The Chase, released in 1946, follows the familiar pattern seen in many a film of the down-on-his-luck, war-torn veteran, yet still honest to a fault, fall in with the wrong crowd. Here, said veteran named Chuck Scott is played by Robert Cummings who returns a wallet to a gangster named Eddie Roman. Liking what he sees, Roman hires Scott on to be his driver and hard up as he is; Scott is not in a position to say no. Eventually the truth about Roman comes to light and Scott falls in love with Lorna, wife of Roman. They decide to run away together to Cuba, she gets killed as does he and in a clichéd twist, it all turns out to be a dream, at least as far as he can remember. The truth is soon revealed, Lorna is rescued and Roman meets his fate.
For the most part, there is little remarkable to be found in The Chase other than the performances. The script by Philip Yordan which was adapted from the book The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich is one that avid movie-goers will recognize and that in itself is not such a bad thing. What is lacking about the entire affair is that little was done to differentiate itself from others of its ilk and falling back upon the ‘it was all a dream’ plot device is a bit lazy. The one thing that the dream sequence does do, is explain to the audience that Scott is a mess and one that has to pop a lot of pills to get by. What is a little hard to digest is that before that very bad dream, nothing about the pills or his sickness is ever touched upon. Scott is almost two characters – the one before the nightmare and the one after and yet, when all is over and done with, he is that man that was first introduced once again. Despite any negatives mentioned, the film does end up being quite suspenseful and it is entertaining thanks to the great performances from the cast. Cummings is quite good as the lead protagonist – the man lost and adrift in his own life and Steve Cochran is the perfect heavy as the villainous Eddie Roman. Playing the damsel in distress would be Michèle Morgan and as lead henchman, none other than Peter Lorre would take the reins and play the same dastardly character he had perfected in many a film before this. Though it would have been nice to see Lorre take on a bigger role, Cochran more than pulled it off as the big bad and the two worked well in tandem against the damaged Scott.
Out of everything that happened in this film, the dream sequence revelation was probably the weakest bit to be found, but it was a perfect bit of noir and was incredibly suspenseful to boot. If the story had just continued from there, it might have made for a far more interesting movie, but as it stands, The Chase turned out to be quite good in and of itself, even though it was somewhat routine overall.
3 out of 5