A nerd discovers he's wanted for murder, after escaping death from wreckage plummeting from a skyscraper. Passerby Frank Thompson wakes up in the street, believing it's his lucky day, then ...
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A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by "Mother" Gin Sling, a dragon-lady who worked herself up from poverty to buy the casino. Sir Guy ... See full summary »
A nerd discovers he's wanted for murder, after escaping death from wreckage plummeting from a skyscraper. Passerby Frank Thompson wakes up in the street, believing it's his lucky day, then rushes home to be told that he left his wife a year ago, with no explanation. Raven-haired Virginia is thrilled to have her sexy geek back in one piece. But as fearsome Danny Nearing, the amnesiac's the target of a city-wide manhunt. Thompson's forced onto a black path of fear, delving for the truth about his lost year, and his sudden amnesia which almost caused his bride to wear black. For the past year, as Nearing, he's carried on a torrid affair with a phantom lady, sexy blonde Ruth Dillon, who has no intention of letting him go back to the wife he claims he has. Is he the brutal killer ? The meek Thompson can't believe that, but how can he counter overwhelming evidence, when he's a small man lost behind a black curtain ? Written by
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Paramount's "Street of Chance" is an early, and certainly not full-fledged, entry in the film noir canon. It qualifies mainly for being based on a work by that master of paranoia and cruel fate, Cornell Woolrich -- using the familiar amnesia premise to trigger the protagonist's alienation -- and by its oppressively moody low-key lighting. The first few reels offer a true noir milieu of urban angst and displacement -- the hero, injured by falling construction material, discovers a year-long lapse in his life -- and worse, he's suspected of murder and has a completely unremembered lover in addition to his puzzled wife. As the film progresses and he narrows in on the truth, it resolves itself into something closer to Gothic melodrama, with a more traditional view of human transgression and frailty. The blending of the two genres is reminiscent of the studio's "Among the Living" from the previous year rather than the out-and-out noirs "This Gun For Hire" and "The Glass Key" of its own release year.
Paramount's B-picture unit offered a higher degree of professionalism than most, reflected by the fine level of performance and technical achievement here. Burgess Meredith's lead character is far too benign to be a true Woolrichian anti-hero, but Claire Trevor shows underlying tinges of femme-fatalité which would serve her well later in her career. Lower-rank director Jack Hively contributes a few visual cachets, particularly the unexpected discovery of a pivotal character lurking in the background, and an over-the-transom tracking shot to end the picture that is almost Antonioniesque. Unfortunately, he doesn't milk the character conflict for much intensity, and the denouement is disappointingly soft.
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