Much of the "pedigree" around this film is pretty impeccable. Screenwriter Garrett Fort had a vertiginous career in Hollywood and ought to be one of the opposing counterweights in Philippe Garnier's narrowly-drawn portrait of screenwriters in Golden Age Hollywood. Fort was in a serious decline when he adapted STREET OF CHANCE due to a lingering spiritual/psychological malaise, and he would die by his own hand a few years later. Fort was much more of a horror specialist, having had a major hand in developing the scripts for both DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN. His work took a turn toward noir after his return from a spiritual retreat in India--first with a dark melodrama for Republic called THE ZERO HOUR (1939), directed by Sidney Salkow just before he jumped to Columbia's B-unit. (There are clearly some Republic films from the late 30s that bear re-examination in addition to what we looked at in our survey of descriptive reviews of their 40s-50s noirs: with any luck, Scorsese and his crew have done some of that work for us already...)
After being teamed with British playwright Reginald Denham to sharpen his play LADIES IN RETIREMENT for Columbia, Fort signed on with Paramount, where he write the screenplay for AMONG THE LIVING (which helps explain some of the "horror" tones that creep into the story) before being assigned to adapt STREET OF CHANCE.
For all his pedigree in Germany and France prior to the rise of Hitler, Theodor Sparkuhl was not treated with much respect upon his arrival in Hollywood. Once at Paramount, he was blocked by the presence of John Seitz, and was relegated to B pictures, where he was only intermittently challenged. With the uptick in movie production after Pearl Harbor, Sparkuhl was more often involved with bigger pictures, but he died right after the war at the early age of 52, just as noir was coming into its own.
Director Jack Hively was a journeyman glad-hander with family connections in the business who worked his way up from film editor to director, parlaying his personality and success with RKO's SAINT series into a more lucrative contract with Paramount. STREET OF CHANCE was Hively's only credit at his new studio, however; once the war hit, the 31-year-old jumped in with both feet, landing an assignment in the Army Signal Corps and making it all the way to major. Injured severely during the war while securing battle footage, he concluded his war service with the documentary ASSIGNMENT: TOKYO, described by one reviewer as "an outright paean to Douglas McArthur." Upon his return to Hollywood, he was eased over to Universal, where he was used mostly in second-unit work. After a long interregnum, he resumed work in TV in areas that we might tactfully term "mid-Americana" (LASSIE, DEATH VALLEY DAYS, THE LIFE & TIMES OF GRIZZLY ADAMS).
So no budding noir auteur at the helm of STREET OF CHANCE. With a screenwriter on the downslide and a B-picture budget and schedule, perhaps it's not too surprising that the film comes up short.