Directed by Wendell B. Harris Jr. • 1989 • United States
Starring Wendell B. Harris Jr., Angela Leslie, Amina Fakir
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival—yet criminally underseen for over three decades—CHAMELEON STREET recounts the improbable but true story of Michigan con man Douglas Street, the titular “chameleon” who successfully impersonated his way up the socioeconomic ladder by posing as a magazine reporter, an Ivy League student, a respected surgeon, and a corporate lawyer. Distinguished by a dexterous performance and daring direction from actor-writer-director Wendell B. Harris Jr., this audacious dark comedy trains an incisive lens on the roles that race, class, and performance play in the formation of American identity. Piercingly funny and aesthetically mischievous, CHAMELEON STREET is a newly restored landmark of independent filmmaking.
In the following introduction recorded in 2022, Criterion curatorial director Ashley Clark explores the sly social critique and dizzying cinematic experimentation of writer-director-actor Wendell B. Harris Jr.’s lone feature to date, a sui generis masterpiece of American independent cinema.