Monday, August 18, 2008

Sometimes a cable car is just a cable car

The cable cars of San Francisco may not have any special meaning, but those aren't the only cable cars out there. You can see the other kind in Second Chance, airing at 6:30 PM ET on August 18 on TCM.

Robert Mitchum stars as a boxer trying to rehabilitate his career in Mexico. That's not much of a movie plot, so of course there's got to be a woman with a past involved. That woman is played by Linda Darnell. Her past is that she's a gangster's moll, who's escaped to Mexico partly so that she doesn't have to testify against her boyfriend, and partly because she wants to get away from that boyfriend. This being a Hollywood movie, you know that the man and woman are going to fall in love, and that things aren't going to go smoothly. In this case, that means that the moll is being chased by the gangster, in the form of his hired gun, played by Jack Palance. Our two heroes escape to a mountain resort, only to find that they haven't really escaped; the gunman has found them. So they try to escape back down to the valley below by taking the cable car.

Of course, once they're in a hanging cable car, you know what happens next. Sadly, this makes the last 20 minutes or so of the movie even more predictable than it otherwise would be. The fact that the movie was billed as being in 3D makes what happens next even more predictable. (Think about it: why would they want the capability of 3D?) That's really too bad, because the movie really deserves a better fate than it gets. There are a few nice scenes, such as a slow chase through the hilly and stairwell-laden streets of town, and scenery that ought to look nice. But even here, the Technicolor they used just doesn't look so brilliant, taking away from the beauty of the Mexican locatoin shots.

I've commented on other movies that they're great for watching on a rainy day when there's nothing better to do, sitting back with a bowl of popcorn. Second Chance fits that bill, although it also means it's just a mediocre movie. Despite having Robert Mitchum as the male lead, Second Chance has never been released to DVD, meaning that if you want to see it, you're going to have to catch the TCM airing.

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