The 1989 film Chameleon Street, written, directed by, and starring Wendell B. Harris Jr. won the grand jury prize for a dramatic film at Sundance Film Festival in 1990. But that honor didn’t lead to the accolades and long directing career that it should have. This quirky masterwork tells the true crime story of William Douglas Street, Jr., a con artist from Detroit who has successfully impersonated athletes, lawyers, reporters, and doctors over a long career of scamming. He is currently in prison for identity theft. I spoke with Cinema Detroit co-founder Paula Guthat about this fascinating film, the wild story behind it, and how Harris molded this tale of the con into a reflection of life, society, and the performance of being human.
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