Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Second Chance (1953)

SECOND CHANCE is a chase thriller which finds Linda Darnell and Robert Mitchum on the run in Mexico from creepy Jack Palance. Darnell has run out on her mobster boyfriend, whose goon (Palance) wants to kill her -- or have her for himself. While trying to escape Palance, Darnell meets and quickly falls in love with Mitchum. Mitchum is also on the run, from memories of a bad experience in the boxing ring -- a theme which, as a side note, echoes a plot point in the previous year's THE QUIET MAN.

The movie is a bit slow out of the starting gate, but interest picks up considerably once Mitchum and Darnell meet. Mitchum and Darnell are great, as always, and Jack Palance is always scary in this type of role.

The tense climax of the movie takes place in an aerial cable car which malfunctions midway through its journey, threatening to send everyone smashing into the rocks below. Can Robert Mitchum save the day?

Much of the film was shot on location in Mexico, including Taxco, a lovely town I visited during my high school years. (In all honesty I didn't care for much else in Mexico, although I enjoyed seeing the Shrine of Guadalupe and Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City...) The film combines effective location shots with some pretty awful background projections.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is that it was shot in 3-D. The style of the opening credits hints at this, and there are other moments, such as a gun being fired straight at the camera, where the 3-D must have been quite effective. It would be interesting to see how the final cable car sequence looks in 3-D; there was one shot in particular that I suspect was quite startling.

Last September the movie was screened in its original 3-D at the World 3-D Festival at the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. I wish I'd been able to see it! More about the festival can be read in an article at TCM.

SECOND CHANCE runs 82 minutes and was filmed in Technicolor. It was directed by Rudolph Mate who also worked on many classic films as a cinematographer.

The movie is not yet available on DVD or video, but hopefully it will turn up in a Robert Mitchum DVD set at some point. In the meantime, it can be seen on cable on Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer is available at the TCM website.

September 2013 Update: I had a chance to see the movie in 3-D when the World 3-D Expo returned to the Egyptian Theatre this month! It was a great experience, and the film was even more enjoyable when seen in its original 3-D.

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