The Big Chase (1954) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
5 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
The big chase of "The Big Chase" was shot in 3-D and released as a short.
Leslie Howard Adams15 February 2005
And that 3-D version, called BANDIT ISLAND, does not survive in that format but it is all here in THE BIG CHASE. And it is flatter than a flitter. On Movie Connections we learn that BANDIT ISLAND was edited into THE BIG CHASE. No, we learn wrong, as it was the other way around, although the short was released prior to THE BIG CHASE film. A second unit shot the 3-D footage for the express purpose of editing it from the overall film. No way, Lippert Pictures would have shot a 3-D short, and then gather most of that cast again a year later to film a different feature movie with a story framing the footage from the 3-D short. BANDIT ISLAND was all second-unit work done by Gilbert Warrenton on camera; Robert L. Lippert Jr. as the director, assisted by Stanley Newfield and Ernie Johnson was the Prop Master for that sequence, which means he came up with the dummy that gang-leader Brad Bellows (Jim Davis)pot-shotted out of the helicopter.

Plot for THE BIG CHASE has Korean-War vet Grayson returning from that Police Action and joining the L.A. Police Academy, which we learn in a flashback told by Police Lt. Ned Daggert (Douglas Kennedy) to story-hunting reporter Milton Graves (Joe Flynn as Joseph Flynn.) We also learn that Pete's wife Doris is in a family way and eight months or so along, and she is worried because her doctor (Wheaton Chambers) has told her she is anemic---and this must be an internal condition, because Adele Jergens was never anemic---but this doesn't keep her from lighting up a cigarette and downing her anemic pills with a shot of bourbon. No, this was a 50's thing and was not intended as some kind of PSA about the dos-and-donts of being pregnant.

Meanwhile, over to the state pen, where Brad Bellows (played by Davis and not named Brad Meggs as shown on site) and Jim Meggs (played by Jay Lawrence and not named Jim Bellows, as shown on site) are planning a big heist as soon as Brad gets out of prison and has six months to plan this caper. As executed, the caper appears to have been planned in six seconds. Meanwhile, Doris frets over the safety of her husband on his appointed rounds and worries about her anemia and smokes some more cigarettes to help her bridge her current problems, although the chances she may give birth to a pea head if she doesn't lay off the nicotine doesn't occur to her, since the Surgeon General hasn't yet got around to screwing up the beautiful cigarette-package labels with those unsightly warning labels that came later.

Okay, enough plot set-up. Bellows and Miggs and Kitty, who is Bellows wife but wimpy motel-owner Phil Arnold thinks she is his wife and space does not allow the telling of this segment of the story as it is the one highlight of the total film, or films if you insist. And, riding in the back seat of the stolen convertible is none other than Lon Chaney Jr., who, despite the fact he is third-billed, has only about ten minutes of footage to go with his zero lines of dialogue, unless a grunt or two counts as dialogue. They rob a payroll-truck and take off in their stolen car, and wheel down the Hollywood Freeway and are soon spotted by Grayson and his Car-22 partner, and the big chase part of THE BIG CHASE now commences. Kitty, the designated driver, is shot during this pursuit, although Chaney is directly between her and Grayson's line of fire, and the curved path this bullet takes is akin to the path of the 1963 Magic Bullet in Dallas and should disarm those conspiracy nuts who think a bullet can't dart and dodge here and there.

Davis, from the passenger side, guides the car to a halt down at the S.P. yards, and there is a lot of running around, over, between and under some S.P. box cars and even a shot of a slow-moving train engine about to run over the 3-D audience even it does lose a bit when Warrenton's camera is jerked sideways. Chaney gets his at the RR yard, and while he is getting his, Bellows and Miggs hotfoot it over to some other L.A. neighborhood and steal another car and it is about this point that one begins to question just how much time Bellows really put into planning this caper. And they get clean away or would have if the motel owner who thought he was married to Kitty hadn't gotten P.O'ed when he learned that Bellows had dumped the body of his ex-non wife into the La Brea tar pits, and tells all. So Daggert radio's Grayson and tells him the plan and he needs to get over to some park somewhere where a helicopter is waiting for him. The next shot shows the two pursue-es slogging across a beach to get to a rowboat. Yes, a rowboat. They row this boat out about fifty miles to where there is a motor boat moored to a buoy. They board the motor boat and head for an island---which it appears is why they called the 3-D short BANDIT ISLAND---and it is never revealed just what mode of transportation Bellows had chartered to escape from the island on, as Grayson, now really mad about Bellows shooting his prop-dummy sidekick, supplied by Props Master Ernie Johnson, has landed. And, soon after some more 3-D scuffling and camera-ducking, the 3-D part that isn't in 3-D anymore, ends and we get back to the hospital where Adele Jergens has delivered a bouncing, healthy---one can hope---baby girl and is frettin' because she hasn't provided her husband with a bouncing baby boy, but he tells her it is okay, as one of the next 15 is bound to be a boy...and she reaches for her pack of Camels.

12 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Maybe It Should Have Been Called THE MISSING WEREWOLF
joe-pearce-14 August 2017
There is only one thing wrong with reviewing films on IMDb, and that is that there is no negative rating facility - i.e., rating a film below 1 (or preferably below zero). This is a film that deserves that rating, and I can't believe that the average of the four prior reviews comes to 5.1. I mean, the old joke about a film that wasn't so much released as simply escaped could have been invented for this film, which is absolutely the worst movie I've seen in about 5 years. Oy! Yet it is peopled by some pretty good actors. Did they read the script? Was there a script? The scenes between Langan and Jergens could have been written by a 10-year-old romantically-inclined little girl, except that would be insulting to 10-year-old romantically-inclined little girls. Kennedy's role is similarly ill-suited to anything approaching the dramatic arts, but at least it's better than Lon Chaney's dialogue. Oh, Lon Chaney doesn't have any dialogue? Then maybe Chaney's role is a better fit for this abortion of a movie. Jergens is the only one in the film who gives what sounds like solid readings, and here is Hollywood's ultimate late-1940s-early 1950s combination bad girl, gun moll, peroxide blonde, floozy (you name it) and she's playing a role that was tailor-made for Shirley Jones! What really annoyed me most about this film, other than its purely amateurish acting, photography, dialogue, presentation, etc. was that I bought it for Lon Chaney, and Lon is suddenly introduced into the film two-thirds of the way through it, sitting in the back seat of a speeding car, and we never even find out who he is (oh, we can infer such things, but golly gee, fellas, that's what a screenplay is for), and except for his hitting a guard over the head, and then running away from the cops through a railroad yard, that is pretty much where he remains. He has not a single line of dialogue, no interplay of any kind with the other characters in the car, etc., etc. And the woman who is somewhat pivotal to the story (well, if you can consider it a story), and who is the getaway driver for these miscreants, also has not a single word of dialogue, and gets shot in the back and thrown into a tar pit without so much as emitting a scream. She, too, must have liked the script. And Jim Davis, only 6 years after playing a leading man to Bette Davis, is stuck in this, too. His dialogue comes mostly in an early prison scene, and is delivered almost like it matters, which may be why he's the only one of these people who ended up with a decent post-BIG CHASE career (but only on TV, certainly not in films). I go back far enough to remember being originally introduced to Glenn Langan on the radio; this and THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN convince me that he should have remained on the radio. No doubt Mrs. Langan (the gorgeous Adele) took the expectant mother role in this film to support his career. No wonder she opted for retirement within another two or three years, but at least she provides something to look at when the film veers away from its chase scenes. (As for her smoking and drinking a bit heavily in the eighth month of her pregnancy, this was years before the Attorney General's report, and maybe Lippert was hoping for a sequel like THE INCREDIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT. Stranger anticipations have been noted in Hollywood.) And maybe I've been spoiled by THE FRENCH CONNECTION, but the big chase scene for which this film is named is pretty cheesy at best. Everything here looks like an Ed Wood product, except not half as professional and not a tenth as entertaining.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Crime doesn't payroll.
mark.waltz18 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Some pretty malevolent activities take place during this formulatic but often gripping thriller about payroll thieves leading L.A. cops on a tense stand-off. Cop Glenn Lagdan already has his hands full dealing with his pregnant wife (Adele Jergens) who keeps having labor pains and is going through false labor when he finds himself on the call chasing thieves Jim Davis and silent Lon Chaney Jr. When the driver (Davis's wife, played by an unbilled starlet) gets shot, the fang simply throws her dying body off of a cliff so they can be on their merry way which culminates with the obviously psychotic Chaney going bonkers with an ax. Trains, boats and helicopters result in the surviving two crooks ending up in Mexico. Gritty and tense, it's a bit far fetched and obviously unnecessarily overly melodramatic. Great location footage however and jaw dropping action throws it up a notch, and you will never be bored. Interesting to see Davis playing such a despicable bad guy. Chaney, obviously desperate for work here, is photographed to look like a monster in his one close-up. Veteran Disney actor Joe Flynn is instantly recognizable as the reporter whom the story is told to. Jergens, a veteran femme fatal, seems a bit too old to be a new mother, with Langdan also seemingly too young for her as well.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
If you like chases you'll love The Big Chase
bkoganbing2 October 2014
Usually the label Lippert Pictures on anything makes it suspect to quality. But I found this one to be an excellent crime drama. As for the title The Big Chase it certainly lives up to that as about the last third is nothing but chase scenes.

This film had its origins in a short subject that Lippert did the year before. The Last Bandit was the short subject and it was virtually a silent film concentrating on nothing but the crime aspect of this story. For The Big Chase the heist that is planned by Jim Davis is blended nicely with the story of Glenn Langan the police officer in pursuit of the robbers.

Douglas Kennedy who is an LAPD police lieutenant and who looks upon Langan as sort of a protégé narrates both the Langan and the heist stories to reporter Joe Flynn. While Korean war veteran Langan is learning the ropes as a rookie cop, Davis is working out a heist while still in prison. The story of Langan who with wife Adele Jergens is expecting their first runs parallel with the heist until the final confrontation.

If you like action and chase scenes, The Big Chase is definitely your kind of film.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3-D short "Bandit Island" provides the few thrills of this Lippert feature
kevin olzak27 September 2014
Robert L. Lippert's June 1954 release of "The Big Chase" was hardly an auspicious event, but coming one year after the original 3-D short "Bandit Island" from March 1953, serves as the only glimpse of what is now a lost film. Robert L. Lippert Jr. directed "Bandit Island" in color without a script or dialogue, a total of four days of shooting, with Lon Chaney contributing ideas on how the story should be told, and supplying stuntmen he knew from years past to perform their usual thing (Lou Roberson takes the fall from the helicopter, while Gil Perkins plays the robbed payroll clerk). Less than 20 minutes of "Bandit Island" is used however, beginning at the 35 minute mark of a 59 minute programmer, with nearly 40 minutes of dull exposition bringing back Glenn Langan, Jim Davis, and Jay Lawrence to repeat their roles from the year before (only Lon Chaney remains absent from the newly shot scenes). While "Bandit" was filmed in gorgeous 3-D color, the 2-D "Chase" is strictly routine black and white, as Langan is joined by real-life wife Adele Jergens to play on screen wife, pregnant with child, endlessly fretting over his dangerous job while hubby does all the cooking (I kid you not!). Meanwhile, the new character of Police Lt. Ned Daggert (Douglas Kennedy) practically narrates the entire film to a newshound played by Youngstown's own Joe Flynn (McHALE'S NAVY), here billed as 'Joseph Flynn' in virtually his feature film debut (he later appears opposite Lon Chaney in Allied Artists' "Indestructible Man"). We see Jim Davis and Jay Lawrence in newly shot prison footage, spending six months to plot a payroll robbery that looks as though they cooked it all up during a 5 minute coffee break! Glenn Langan cooks, Adele Jergens boozes and smokes, Douglas Kennedy narrates at tortoise level speed, making the 'big chase' seem more impressive than it really is. The director was longtime film editor Arthur David Hilton, whose only other credits in that capacity were "The Return of Jesse James" and "Cat-Women of the Moon." It's nice to see Lon Chaney in anything, but like everyone else from "Bandit Island," his characterization is mute and nonexistent, henchman Kip biting the dust at the railway yard, in what amounts to little more than three minutes-plus screen time (his demise is accompanied by the musical theme from Bela Lugosi's 1940 "The Devil Bat"). Even Chaney fans will feel let down by this one, the actor's first effort for Lippert Pictures, followed by two more, "The Black Pirates" and "The Silver Star." Producer Robert L. Lippert Jr. fondly recalled Chaney as a real pro who knew his business, half drunk half the time, yet always reliable and never holding up production.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews