Cornell Woolrich

THE CHASE (1946)

The Chase 1946

Aww yeah, another Cornell Woolrich adaptation…The Chase is based on Woolrich’s 1944 “Black Path of Fear,” from his famous “Black” series, which includes Phantom Lady. The adaptation follows closely to the book (minus the opium dens), so viewers familiar with Woolrich won’t be surprised by the breakneck twist that occurs two thirds into this caper. The twist, however, is totally bonkers one and may turn some viewers off. The Chase, starring Robert Cummings, Steve Cochran, and the mighty Peter Lorre is a fantastic noir if you can stomach the twist. While some consider it ballsy, others may consider cheap.

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BLACK ANGEL (1946)

Black Angel 1946

Roy William Neill’s Black Angel barely resembles the Cornell Woolrich novel it’s adapted from. In typical Woolrich fashion, Black Angel is a dark novel about morality and punishment. The film version is a lot more light and whimsical at times (plus there’s like five musical numbers), but at least it maintains the end’s disturbing twist. Aside from some really trippy sequences near the end, Black Angel is a visually drab film. But any shortcomings in the style department are remedied by the solid cast.

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PHANTOM LADY (1944)

Phantom Lady

Awww yeah…another Robert Siodmak joint. I love this dude! It’s also another Cornell Woolrich adaptation. Phantom Lady, based on his 1942 book of the same name, nicely conveys Woolrich’s motif of the passive male and avenging female that subverts the traditional femme fatale. It’s also a fine example of Siodmak’s German expressionistic style bleeding into the visual trademarks of noir. These elements culminate in a tense, tough little ride into fatalism, cover-ups, and good ol’ American psychopathy.

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