The Chase is a drab title for a film based on a book with a rather better title - The Black Path of Fear. But it's by no means a drab film, even if it is undeniably noir. I read the novel aeons ago when I was going through a real Cornell Woolrich phase, and although I can't recall much about it, I'm pretty sure that the film is very different. And it's certainly unusual.
We begin with Chuck Scott, clearly down on his luck and unable to afford breakfast. He's popping some pills, but it's not clear what's wrong with him. Then he finds a wallet on the ground and it's stuffed with cash. He buys breakfast but then heads off to the mansion which is home to the wallet's owner. This proves to be a rich guy called Roman, who is clearly a psychopath. Roman has a sidekick called Gino, played by Peter Lorre with characteristic sleazy menace. But when Roman offers Chuck a job as a driver, it's an offer too good to refuse.
Roman and Gino cross swords with a businessman who has outsmarted them, and manage to imprison him in the wine cellar, together with a hungry and vicious dog. Meanwhile, Roman's glamorous wife, clearly unhappy, keeps asking Chuck to drive her to a lonely coastline. She wants to escape to Cuba and offers Chuck $1000 to take her there. But then strange things begin to happen....
I don't want to spoil the story, which offers an intriguing take on psychological disturbance. Suffice to say that the narrative takes a very disconcerting course. I'm not sure this is entirely successful, but my attention was held throughout. Some aspects of the film are unsatisfactory - the music, for instance, struck me as over-the-top and occasionally irritating. The censors probably toned the film down to its detriment, but it retains an uncanny appeal.