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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Chancer - Series 1'
(Clive Owen, et al / 4-Disc DVD / NR / (1990) 2007 / Acorn Media)

Overview: He’s rude, arrogant, ingenious, unprincipled -- and utterly charming. In the role that led to film stardom in Croupier and an Oscar® nomination in Closer, Clive Owen is simply dazzling as Stephen Crane -- con artist, swindler, and purported savior of a struggling sports car company.

DVD Verdict: 1990's 'Chancer: Series 1,' the thirteen episode series from Britain's Granada Television, is a marvelously involving soaper starring Clive Owen in what the DVD box claims was his breakout role. When this witty, delightfully convoluted drama sticks to the main subplot - the rise, fall, and rise...and then fall (?) of charming, sexy swindler Stephen Crane - it's enormously entertaining.

Handsome, wily, cocky Stephen Crane (Clive Owen), an industrial business analyst for a prestigious London bank, has the world by the tail - or at least he thinks he does. Living in a posh apartment on the Thames, with a gorgeous, beautiful blonde girlfriend, Joanna Franklyn (Susannah Harker), Stephen plays fast and loose with business ethics at the work place. A phone call from a friend, Gavin Nichols (Matthew Marsh), draws Stephen into a failing family business that will profoundly challenge everything Stephen has believed about others and himself.

The strongest element of the series is the Stephen Crane main plot. The deliciously twisty financial backstabbing between Stephen and boss Jimmy Blake (played by one of my favorites, Leslie Phillips, from the Carry On films - "Ding dong!") carry the most weight in the show, and rightfully so. Owen, all youthful cockiness and sex appeal, is totally endearing as the slightly obnoxious, disarmingly crooked scoundrel Stephen Crane; he's the kind of guy that every guy dreads working with, and whom most women can't resist. It's no wonder this role pushed him further into the limelight; what a pity he turned down the chance to be the new 007.

But it's not just a flash role; there's real depth to Owen's approach, as well, with the hustling Stephen growing emotionally throughout the series, until he emerges as a fully developed character with layers of complexity. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the final episode in the series, Love, where Owen matches acting chops with another favorite of mine, veteran character actor Peter Vaughan, in a increasingly perverse game of psychological one-upmanship. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) and comes with the Special Features of:

Production Photo Gallery
Cast Filmographies