The Chase (1946) Kino Blu-Ray
Peter Lorre (born László Löwenstein, Rózsahegy, Austria-Hungary, 1904) garners my vote for the greatest supporting actor of all time. Just like Bela Lugosi, he is a presence in just about everything he was in, beginning with international fame in Fritz Lang’s M (1931), as a villain in arguably the first Film Noir Stranger On the Third Floor (1940), with Bogie in Warner Bros’ classics The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), Passage to Marseille (1944) and others, as Conseil in Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), and opposite Steve McQueen in a memorable Roald Dahl penned “Hitchcock Presents” episode Man from the South (1960). Finding Peter Lorre films is an obsession with me because he is that good. He elevates a bland film into something watchable. Try and imagine The Mask of Dimitrios (1944) without Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet.
For a long time I searched for the scarce The Face Behind the Mask (1941), which was worth the wait, Island of Doomed Men (1940) FILM HERE, where Lorre is so despicable he shoots a pet monkey, and, reviewed here, The Chase (1946) FILM HERE, which just received a new transfer to Blu-ray from UCLA/Film Foundation archival 35mm elements. Of the three films, The Chase might be the best. It’s definitely weird and non-linear and it caught me off guard.
The Chase was scripted by Oscar-winning writer Philip Yordan (El Cid, Johnny Guitar, The Day of the Triffids, The Big Combo and several others) and directed by Arthur Ripley (of which there is sparsely written). The film was nominated as [best] feature film at the 1947 Cannes Film Festival losing to René Clément’s The Damned (1946) in the Prix du meilleur film d’aventures et policier Adventure and Crime category.
The Chase stars likeable everyman Robert Cummings as trauma-ridden naval man Chuck Scott who has a mysterious past, who chances upon a billfold full of money. He returns the money to psychopathic millionaire Eddie Roman (actor Steve Cochran)(White Heat, 1949), who hires Scott as a chauffeur. Lorre serves as Roman’s confidant, muse and bodyguard and he is VILE in this film, complaining about the cost of flowers and inflation, and feeding a sap to a bloodthirsty canine. The famous set piece of this film of course is the modified Eddie Roman sedan which features an accelerator pedal (+110 MPH) and brake opposite the rear passenger seat (“…take the wheel Chuck…”). All is well until Chuck meets Eddie’s gorgeous squeeze Lorna (Michèle Morgan)(Passage to Marseille) who dreams of escaping to Havana. That’s where the fun begins. Lorre is a joy to watch in this gem of a film.
Kino’s release has some extras including an audio commentary and two radio adaptations and selected film trailers. I noticed the print is not the best quality and quite grainy. The pops in the audio track (refer to the youtube link above) have largely been eliminated.
Yippee! Peter Lorre rocks.