SECOND CHANCE. RKO Radio Pictures, 1953. Robert Mitchum, Linda Darnell, Jack Palance, Sandro Giglio, Roy Roberts, Dan Seymour, Mlburn Stone. Director: Rudolph Maté.

   A classic case of a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be. The opening scene, as gangster hit man Jack Palance offs Milburn Stone in his hotel room suggests that this is the beginning of a fine film solidly in the noir category. But the bulk of the middle of the film is both a travelogue filmed in at fiesta time in beautiful downtown Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, and a romantic drama that’s as dull as dishwater.

   Linda Darnell is, as it turns out, a mobster’s ex-girl friend on the run from the aforementioned Palance. As fate would have it, she finds a soulmate in all-but-burned-out boxer Robert Mitchum, and the cure for her run-away-from-it all blues. The ending, though, eventually, especially for those with their 3-D glasses on, as they did during the film’s initial release, is a spectacular thriller set on a stranded cable car stranded hundreds of feet above a rockier terrain than you can ever imagine.

   You have to wait a long time before the ending, though, or at least so it seemed that way. Mitchum is Mitchum, as always, and that’s all to the good, but Linda Darnell, who was only 30 when she made this film, looks 10 years older, and believe it or not, utterly matronly. But I also hasten to add that even going up cobbled streets in high heels, she’s a better runner than Jack Palance is, and no, I didn’t believe it either.