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Wendell B. Harris Jr.
Wendell B. Harris wrote, directed, and stars in Chameleon Street, a sly comedy based loosely on the real-life exploits of conman William Douglas Street, who demonstrates a gift for becoming what people want him to be. The film opens with Street (Harris) being interviewed by a prison psychiatrist. In this scene, he expresses what is basically his mantra, "I think, therefore I scam." The film then flashes back to Street's earlier days, living with his parents, and working for his taciturn father installing burglar alarms. Street eventually marries a beautiful, intelligent woman, Gabrielle (Angela Leslie), who sends him off each day with the same message -- "Make some money." Overcome by boredom and desperate for cash, Street concocts a shakedown scheme that completely backfires when his accomplice, Curtis (Anthony Ennis), signs Street's name to the extortion note, and sends it to the local papers. Ironically, no charges are pressed, and the scam turns Street, briefly, into a media darling. He finds he enjoys the spotlight. Gabrielle is less pleased. Street next tries to pass himself off as a writer from Time Magazine in order to interview a women's basketball player (Paula McGee, who plays herself). "She had the four 'B's," he exults, "Black, Beauty, Brains, and Basketball." As his relationship with his now pregnant wife disintegrates, Street engages in his most ambitious scheme yet -- posing as an Harvard-educated intern at a local hospital. Everything is going smoothly until he's called upon to perform a hysterectomy. Harris' low-budget film won the grand prize at the Sundance Film Festival, but only received limited theatrical distribution. Harris disappeared from national view until his memorable supporting role in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight in 1998. He also had a small part in the 2000 teen comedy Road Trip.
Theatrical Release: September 13th, 1989
DVD Review: Homevision - Region 0 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Homevision - Region 0 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.74 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
by Armond White and Michael Reiter
• Arbiter Roswell trailer
notes - essay by Armond White
References to Woody Allen's Zelig are appropriate but Wendell B. Harris Jr.'s Chameleon Street has a stronger bent of realism and sardonic humor. Very cool!
The DVD transfer is far better than I was expecting from such a clandestine Indie creation. Dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic - it has good detail and limited noise. Colors are strong and there are optional English subtitles supporting the 2.0 channel audio.
Image Entertainment (owners of HomeVision) have included some exceptional extras including a witty and informative commentary by Armond White and Michael Reiter. Colette Vignette - Grand Prize winner at Cannes - Sony US Visions Contest featuring Colette Hollywood, a 'Making Of...'Documentary entitled The Process featuring some early interviews of the performers, a few deleted scenes and some production activity. There is also some Pre-production footage - 'You Know Leadbelly?' - unexpurgated acting footage from Chameleon Street with Tony Ennis as a disingenuous TV host interviewing Maurice Givens as fatuous Rock-n-Roll roadie "Kelvin". There are also some trailers and a Photo gallery. Included are some liner notes with an essay by Armond White.
I was blown away by this work and strongly recommend it. Lots of fun in a dour 'dark-comedy' modus. The DVD is of very good quality.