Borden Chase

Borden Chase (January 11, 1900 March 8, 1971) was an American writer.


Born Frank Fowler, he went through an assortment of jobs, including driving for gangster Frankie Yale and working as a sandhog on the construction of New York's Holland Tunnel, before turning to writing, first short stories and novels, and later, screenplays.

When 20th Century Fox produced Under Pressure (1935), his screen adaptation of his novel, Sandhog (based on his Holland Tunnel experience), he moved to Hollywood and changed his name to Borden Chase, allegedly getting his nominal inspiration from Borden Milk and Chase Manhattan Bank.

Chase provided the story for Anthony Mann's first film, Dr. Broadway (1942), but his screenplays for the director's 1950s westerns, Winchester '73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952) and The Far Country (1954), along with his Academy Award nomination for Howard Hawks' seminal Red River (1948), were his crowning achievements.

According to one film critic, the films that "typify the characters and conflicts associated with Chase's work" were Winchester 73, Bend of the River and The Far Country:

First of all, two strong men are involved in an arduous journey across the western terrain, with units of society either contained within the journey itself (as a wagon train) or as various stops along the way (western towns, mining towns, etc.). The primary involvement of the movie is the conflict between two men, who tend to be deeply linked by some common bond... In some cases the conflict is internal, the hero against the evil inside himself. Although Chase created strong females in films... most Chase stories are male conflicts. Chase once said "That I believe is the greatest love story in all of the world. I don't mean sexual. I have always believed that a man can actually love and respect another man more so than he can a woman."... Straightforward dialogue, and absence of pretentious philosophizing, and clearly delineated action mark the story progressions, which culminate in unambiguous resolutions. Any ambiguities lie in the maturity of the characterizations, in which the two men are neither totally good nor totally bad. In this regard, Chase made a major contribution to what is thought of as the "adult" or "psychological" Westerns of the 1950s.[1]

The critic elaborated:

The Chase Western story is presented in a physical progression across a larger-than-life landscape, an epic journey west which allows forces of good and evil to interact... The issue of the Chase Western script is not whether man will settle the West and live in it. It is assumed he will, or that he already has. The question is more universal and appropriate to modern life: Will the uncivilized forces within man create a Wild West in perpetuity by winning out over his better instincts?[1]

Personal life

Borden Chase and wife Lee Keith had two children: a daughter, Barrie Chase, a now retired actress and dancer, and a son Frank, a screenwriter.

Chase was an active member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, an anti-Communist group which was active in Hollywood during the years of the Hollywood blacklist.

The Borden Chase cocktail is named after him.[2]

Select Filmography


Non Fiction


External links and sources

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