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Menace at the Casino

Chance at the Wheel

Short Story (2,825 words)

Max Lustrier, an unscrupulous thief, after extensive planning dresses up as a woman, enters the Casino de Rocville, steals the day's takings and escapes by car. He suffers a tyre blowout and is knocked unconsious in the crash. He wakes up to find himself being helped by a man who introduces himself as M. Charnot. Max sees that his suitcase containing his woman's disguise has broken open. He decides he will have to kill Charnot who would otherwise tell the police who would then know that the casino robbery was the work of a man, not a woman. He does not yet know that it would be unnecessary since Charnot, though he moves confidently around his familiar territory, is blind.

Canning also uses the motif of blindness in the story "Lady in the Dark" and in the script he wrote for the episode "Blind Spot" in the TV series Man in a Suitcase.

This Week 24 October, 1954.
Reprinted in The World's News (Sydney NSW), 19 February 1955.
Reprinted as "Chance at the Wheel" in Argosy, June 1955.

Included in Crime and Detection, ed. John Higgins.

The story was used for a short film, A Man on the Beach, made in 1955, the first film directing credit for Joseph Losey after his HUAC blacklisting and exile from Hollywood. The script by Jimmy Sangster introduces an extra character, Max's chauffeur/co-conspirator played by Michael Ripper, murdered by Max as he gleefully starts to count the money they have stolen. Max himself is played by Michael Medwin, best known for his role as the radio station chief in the BBC detective series Shoestring which ran for 21 episodes. Charnot has been turned into an alcoholic English doctor called Carter, played by Sir Donald Wolfit. The implausibility of Max failing to realise that Carter is blind is more convincingly handled in the film than in the story, since there are no outdoor scenes involving the two of them.

title screen
scene from movie