Stuyguy: It sounds very much like a scene from Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Maltese Falcon. At one point in the novel, Sam Spade told Brigid O’Shaugnessy (sp?) about a businessman who nearly died when a falling I-beam nearly hit him. He got to thinking about the incident (a critical essay I read said the incident got the guy to thinking about the randomness of modern industrial life); abandoned his business, wife and kids in northern California; and took up a new life in Tacoma, Wash.
In the book, Spade tells Brigid that the man ended up in a similar line of business, married a woman who was similar to his first wife, and still played golf. Space concluded: “He adjusted to a world where beams are falling. Then he adjusted to them not falling. That was the part of the story I always liked.”
I’m not sure if this made it into the third movie versionof The Maltese Falcon, the one with Humphrey Bogart. However, it may have as the director, John Huston (?), had the rare good sense to take most of the dialogue from the book, one of the finest American novels, IMO. Peter Lorre played the role of Joel Cairo in that movie. I’ve seen that movie, but that was about 20 years ago, and I cannot remember if Huston incorporated the bit about the businessman and the falling beams.
Don’t know about the two earlier movie versions of the Maltese Falcon as I have not seen them.
You might want to consider asking Eve for help. She’s seen more old movies than I know exist.