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  • 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.
  • Street of Chance is directed by Jack Hively and adapted to screenplay by Garrett Fort from the novel "The Black Curtain" written by Cornell Woolrich. It stars Burgess Meredith, Claire Trevor, Louise Platt, Sheldon Leonard, Frieda Inescort and Jerome Cowan. Music is by David Buttolph and cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl.

    After being felled by falling wreckage from a New York building, Frank Thompson awakes in the street to find he has some sort of amnesia and his life may not be as he thought. As he starts to piece together his life he comes to realise he may have committed a murder and is actually on the run!

    An early entry in the original film noir cycle, Street of Chance takes what would become a familiar film noir theme, amnesia, and seasons it with betrayal and the vagaries of fate. It's also a point of interest to note that it's the first filmic adaptation of one of noir hero Woolrich's literary works, while the visual marker set here by Sparkuhl (Among the Living) signposts the influence of German Expressionism on the noir film making style. The visuals range from low lighted cramped rooms to the various diagonal and vertical shadows that psychologically patternize the spaces inhabited by the lead characters.

    The story itself is not so hot, once the narrative settles into a steady and unspectacular rhythm, as the key ladies in Frank Thompson's life come into play, there's a distinct lack of mystery or suspense. Which is a shame as the acting is of good quality even if the principals aren't asked to stretch their respective thespian skills. Still, with the visuals so strong and the satisfying Woolrich feel to proceedings (though the finale is changed here from that of the novel), it's worth seeking out by noiristas. 6.5/10
  • This noir whodunnit is manned by Burgess Meredith, who gives a textured performance, and an early career appearance of Claire Trevor, who would go to greater things. Even Sheldon Leonard, as a deadpan cop, is mildly amusing. The amnesia plot, however, wears a bit thin on the nerves, as it so cliched. and was done too often in noir.

    For a B film, this is not too bad. It keeps your interest for over an hour and is decently paced by the director, Jack Hively. Initially, one thinks the protagonist is the target of gangsters, but we find out quickly it is just trigger-happy cops. There is no explanation, however, as to why Jack transforms into Naehring for a year, and dumps his loving wife for that same year. Despite that hole in the plot, the film is entertaining.
  • Burgess Meredith does well in this straightforward Noir. It's short sweet and to a good point.

    Not the greatest example of the genre but (did I say short). A couple of good twists and at times eerie and suspenseful.

    It's also interesting to see Sheldon Leonard as a hard boiled cop.

    So, if you are Noir-addicted it is worth the time to watch. It could have been longer, there were some gaps to fill but...

    I liked it. Especially Burgess.
  • Burgess Meredith makes probably his greatest performance and is completely convincing as the man in the awkward position of having lost all memory of the latest year of his life and finds himself hounded by hoodlums and eventually wanted for murder. Claire Trevor is less convincing as the lady involved, who wants to get away with him and help him abscond whatever it is, while the character stirring the tale and bringing it up to excitement is lame old grandma (Adeline De Walt Reynolds), who can only communicate with her eyes but does so the more. As the thriller develops, it grows more exciting and gripping all the way, and as usual the truth is a shocker - everyone is innocent except the least suspected.

    Burgess Meredith's experience of this nightmare situation of a lifetime, like being locked up blind in a cage of wolves or worse, that is killers or the electric chair, couldn't be made more realistic by his acting, as this outrageous strain forces him to extreme rationalism, which is exactly the normal human reaction in such circumstances - you set in a higher gear, and thus he manages to make his way out of the death trap of innocent ignorance caught in hopeless darkness of hopelessness. It's a small great film with plenty of stuff for afterthought.
  • This movie hits all the buttons for Film Noir, and I'm willing to call it so. there are lots of earlier movies with elements that finally fused together to make Film Noir, and many movies that almost hit it around this time (like THE MALTESE FALCON), but Noir was a movement, and it's not leaders that make movements, it's followers, like Jack Hively, the B director of this one.

    Burgess Meredith is walking down the street when he is knocked down by some rubble from a demolition job. When he gets up, he finds a cigarette case and hat with the wrong initials, and when he goes home, wife Louise Platt tells him he has been missing for more than a year. He goes to the office to get his job back, only to find Sheldon Leonard in hot pursuit. When he goes back to the part of town where he regained his memory, there Claire Trevor is, telling him to get off the street. He's her man and he's wanted for murder.

    It's based on one of Cornell Woolrich's overwrought crime novels and, as usual, Burgess Meredith plays a nice, amiable fellow, rather wasted. Claire Trevor has all the good lines, and Sheldon Leonard is fine in a straight role. Despite that voice, meant for Runyonesque hoods, he was a good actor.

    If the answer to the mystery is milked a bit to make the movie last a few minutes longer, the answer still came as a surprise to me. I expect you'll enjoy it, not only for its early, pure Noir, but for a fairly played, if mildly hysterical, mystery.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film has no connection whatever with a film of the same title released in 1930, and starring William Powell. This film is about a man, played by Burgess Meredith, who at the beginning of the film is shown being hit on the head in the street by a collapsing builder's rig. He is apparently uninjured, but in fact he is concussed and believes he is named Frank Thompson. He pulls a cigarette case out of his pocket and he is puzzled that it bears the initials D.N. He notices that those same initials are inside his hat. He rushes 'home' only to discover that the apartment is empty. He discovers that his wife has moved away, and his 'return' to the building is greeted with surprise. He traces his wife and she welcomes him enthusiastically, but when he starts talking about how she reminded him not to forget his muffler on the way to work that morning she points out that it is summer, not winter, and that she has not seen him for a year, since he left her without explanation. These amnesia stories are always very intriguing, since loss of awareness of one's own identity is a kind of metaphor for the existential condition. As Paul Gauguin said: 'Who are we …?' In fact, the true nature of identity is one of the deepest of all mysteries. That is why I have a particular fondness for amnesia films. The central weakness of this film is that Burgess Meredith, however good he is at looking confused because of his amnesia, lacks romantic appeal entirely. Thus, when the lovely Lousie Platt as his wife professes her undying and passionate love for him, and is ecstatic at his return, I stirred uneasily. Burgess Meredith just is not the kind of guy that women slobber over. Then Meredith discovers what the initials D.N. stand for: he has for the past year been living a different life under the name of Danny Nearing. And as Danny, he has been then object of the hysterical affection of film noir glamour gal Claire Trevor. Now, come on! What is the casting gag here? Did somebody with a really wicked sense of humour decide to pair these two? It's like throwing a cold, wet, and limp dishrag into the arms of hottie Claire. Burgess Meredith has about as much erotic intensity as a clam. And he is also the object of the apparent violent hatred of a man who seems to be a gangster, played by the ever-ominous Sheldon Leonard, who shoots at him as he scurries up a fire escape with Claire. The fact that Leonard turns out to be a policeman rather than a hood is only small comfort, since, as we soon discover, 'it's complicated'. The film is based on a story by Cornell Woolrich, one of Hollywood's major mystery writers, known for instance for NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES (1948, see my review). The director was Jack Hively, who did three 'Saint' films. This film would have been so much better with a more appropriate leading man. I hate to be so critical of Burgess Meredith, who was such a fine actor in so many films, but here the error in casting is simply disastrous. Otherwise, putting that central calamity aside, the film is entertaining and of interest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This early film noir starts off intriguing, bogs down into the slow processing of information, and turns the tables in a surprising way. Back when he was a leading man and not a grumpy old one, Burgess Meredith was quite unique. Here, he is both a quiet accountant and a mystery man being sought for murder. It appears that he had amnesia once before, snapping into his alleged real identity when a construction site briefly knocks him unconscious. A forgotten wife and career interrupts his determination to find out if he's guilty of this murder or not. The sudden return to his old neighborhood reunites him with old girlfriend Claire Trevor and brings him to the scene of the murder where the only one willing to help is a bedridden mute old woman (Adeline De Witt Reynolds) who blinks in certain ways to answer his questions.

    Intriguing but perplexing, this is unrelated to the 1930 Paramount drama with William Powell and Kay Francis. Meredith is of course excellent, and Trevor also very good, playing several sides to her mysterious femme fatale. Sheldon Leonard is the obsessive detective on Meredith's case, with Jerome Cowan and Frieda Inescort as De Witt's greedy son and daughter-in- law. This is the type of film to try to remain patient with because the denouncement is pretty surprising. While Manhattan seems to be the setting, obviously fictional cross streets off of the main drag adds to the conclusion. Technically superior as well, this starts off high, sags briefly, but concludes way up in outer space with twists that add a true wallop and leave you with a sense of pity for the guilty party.
  • "Street of Chance" is an old movie that was meant as a B-movie. In other words, a shorter and cheaper film to accompany the main feature. So, even though the story is filled with some silly cliches, I could look past this because the movie wasn't intended to be perfect...or anything close to it!

    Frank (Burgess Meredith) is walking down a city street when debris from a building falls on him. He's mostly okay...mostly. Although he hasn't broken any bones, he has broken his brain. In other words, he has amnesia and can't remember who he is and has trouble remembering recent details of his life. Eventually, he learns that he's wanted for murder....and he's determined to prove his innocence. To help him with this is a woman (Claire Trevor) who tells Frank she's his girlfriend. But can he trust her or anyone else??

    The notion of getting bonked on the head and developing an all new personality is popular--particularly in 1950s and 60s TV shows. In reality, such accidents and reactions are rare. Again, I wasn't trying to say it was believable...just mildly interesting and mildly entertaining.
  • Prolific writer Cornell Woolrich, who wrote Rear Window, No Man of Her Own, and many other mysteries, is the author of "Street of Chance" from 1942. The movie stars Burgess Meredith, Claire Trevor, Frieda Inescort, Jerome Cowan, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, Louise Platt, and Sheldon Leonard.

    Frank Thompson (Meredith) is hit by part of a building at E. 22nd and Third Avenue, and when he comes to, has a lighter and a hat with the initials DN. He returns home to his wife (Platt), only to find out she moved away a year earlier. When he catches up with her, she's shocked to see him but welcomes him back. It doesn't take long for him to realize someone (Sheldon Leonard) is after him.

    Desperate, he sends Virginia to her mother's and returns to 22nd St., hoping to find someone who knows him under this other name. Turns out his name is Danny Nearing, and police are searching for him, suspecting him of murder.

    Though Danny's girlfriend (Trevor), who works for the man whose brother was murdered, tries everything she can to keep him hidden, Frank/Danny knows he didn't kill anyone and wants the truth.

    This is a pretty good film, thanks to the performances of Meredith and Trevor. It was easy to figure out, but after you've seen as many of these as I have, they usually are.

    Of interest was the old woman who can only communicate with one blink for yes and two for no, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, who began her career at the age of 78, in 1941. She graduated from college at the age of 64. I guess I'd call her a late bloomer. She lived to 99.
  • This film begins with a man named "Frank Thompson" (Burgess Meredith) walking on the street and being hit on the head with some falling objects from a construction site. Although he isn't seriously hurt he suddenly realizes that he has no memory of why he was on that particular street. Neither does he know why his hat and cigarette case have the initials of "D.N." on them. In any case, he eventually goes home only to find that his wife "Virginia Thompson" (Louise Platt) hasn't lived there for several months-even though he supposedly left her there early that morning. When he does finally find her he discovers that he has been gone for about a year and then realizes that he suffers from amnesia and can't remember anything during that time. To make matters even worse, he soon discovers that men with guns are chasing him and he doesn't know why. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was an interesting film noir which captured the time period rather well and had a decent twist at the very end. Admittedly, the plot was somewhat clichéd and the actors weren't exactly top-notch but it was still worth the time spent to watch it and for that reason I have rated it accordingly. Average.
  • mrdonleone25 December 2019
    Many movies are worth totally nothing, but this crime gem here is the worstin town. From the acting to the story to the music, all elements in it are on turd-level. Just dump this pool of nachos!