Lawrence O'Toole
October 23, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Chameleon Street

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
94 minutes
performer
Wendell B. Harris Jr., Angela Leslie
genre
Drama, Documentary

We gave it a B+

Wendell B. Harris’ inventive docudrama, Chameleon Street, about con man William Douglas Street, who illegally posed as a Time reporter and a surgeon, among other professionals, has a loose, home-movie, performance art quality ideally suited to video. And Harris’ performance as Street — arrogant, funny, sarcastic, charming — is a tour de force worthy of its mercurial subject. The Great Impostor, an earlier, more sanitized variation on the same theme, offers a fascinating comparison. It stars Tony Curtis as the real-life Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr., who impersonated a monk, a doctor, a teacher, and a penologist — and even faked his own suicide. Both of these movies’ subjects are brilliant, and neither is on friendly terms with reality. But as cautionary fables these tapes are almost too enjoyable. Chameleon Street: B+ The Great Impostor: B

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