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Woman on the Run has some wonderful scenes. Ann Sheridan plays a
disenchanted wife whose husband was a witness to a gangland killing (while
walking his little dog). Realising that he is in great danger the man goes
into hiding (without the dog). Right from the beginning the noirish drama is
mixed with hilarious humor. The police officers who come to the Sheridan
character's house after the incident are cheeky and mean to the extreme. The
woman who for some reason is treated like a suspect even has to open all her
kitchen cupboards (I won't tell you what's in it, it's very telling and
absolutely funny). Many aspects of the script do not stand up to logic. But,
well, it is "only a movie" and therefore it does not matter at all quite
on the contrary in fact.
Alfred Hitchcock must have run this one in his screening room more than once. The finale in a funfair has a strong resemblance with the one in his Strangers on a Train, released one year later. It has an astonishingly well done nightly rollercoaster scene. Furthermore there is some very good location shooting on the streets of San Francisco. I can highly recommend this well fotographed and directed movie with good performances, especially by Ann Sheridan.
Shown for theatrically for the first time in 40 years at the 2003 San
Francisco Noir Festival, this rediscovered gem has some of
the classic elements that make the genre so appealing; here an innocent bystander to a murder is on the run with a wife who is
desperately trying to find him before the cops or the killer can get to him.
A wisecracking Ann Sheridan careens around San Francisco with reporter Dennis OÕKeefe who may or may not be an ally.
One of the delights of this film is that the city is portrayed realistically with picturesque 1950 settings in North Beach,
Chinatown, Telegraph Hill and the long gone Playland at the Beach.
One interesting bit of trivia: Norman Foster later ditched the noir formula and became a successful director of Disney hits such as Zorro and Davy Crockett and eventually went on to direct episodes of the Batman and Green Hornet television series..
WOMAN ON THE RUN is an infinitely better and more rewarding movie experience now than when it was released in 1950. Saw it back then when I was a child and the only thing I remembered was the terrifically-exciting roller coaster sequence. Seeing it again on DVD makes me appreciate everything about it, a film noir classic. To make such a no-nonsense, concise and plausible crime thriller with a sensational finale today certainly seems to be asking for the impossible. Ann Sheridan, of a certain age, never sexier and looking like a million dollars, dominates the screen, as usual. She can do anything, but overact. She's the real thing. Scenes in this movie bear comparison to Orson Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL and Alfred Hitchcock'S STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. This is a gem - hard-boiled, splendidly-acted, written and photographed.
There's LOTS of snappy dialog in this film, all of it involving Ann Sheriden, & much of it involving Dennis O'Keefe as Danny Leggett or Robert Keith as Inspector Ferris. There are very few Film Noirs with a female lead, & this is one of them. Sheriden does a terrific job as the wife of a man on the run from the police & the mob. Is Ann faithful or faithless? Where's her husband? Does she care? These are some of the questions raised in the film. Lots of shadows, much of it filmed at night, but there are some sunny scenes. Look for #2 Son as one of the Chinese dancers. The dialog was so tart that it reminded me of `The Big Sleep,' & that's saying a lot. One big difference between that film & this, is that this film is a lot more easy to comprehend. I actually knew who they were talking about when they referred to `Susie' or `Ferris,' maybe because the number of characters in this movie were few, & their roles were very well defined. Exciting, suspenseful, good sense of humor, very well acted & directed. Too bad it's hard to find on video & it's never shown on TV. I rate it 9/10.
It is difficult to find fault with any part of "Woman on the Run." It
is an excellent film noir thriller. The identity of the killer is given
away much too soon, changing the film from a suspenseful mystery to one
of just suspense. The title is misleading, since the one on the run is
not the woman, Eleanor Johnson (Ann Sheridan at her best), but her
husband, Frank (Ross Elliott). The director/writer, Norman Foster,
purposely did this to indicate that Eleanor was in a sense running too,
not just to find her husband and save him from possible death, but to
find the lost love they once shared.
Frank witnessed a mob hit, telling the police that he could easily identify the hit-man. Before the police have a chance to place him and his wife in protective custody, he "takes a powder." Once the wife is interrogated it becomes obvious that the two were in the midst of a breakup. Frank is a starving artist who has a temporary job making and displaying mannequins. Eleanor has grown tired of their precarious existence. She indicates to Inspector Martin Ferris (Robert Keith) that she is glad her husband is gone and refuses to assist in finding him. Then she takes a powder with the help of an inquiring reporter, Danny Leggett (Dennis O'Keefe), who convinces her that he wants to scoop the story. The two surreptitiously team up to find Frank. Also involved in the manhunt is the fugitive couple's dog, Rembrandt. "It's the nearest we could get to owning one," Eleanor quips. There are important clues given near the beginning when Eleanor is being questioned; so listen carefully.
Norman Foster, who cut his teeth on Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto films, deserves most of the credit for the success of this picture. The script he helped write is filled with witty, clever dialog. The story with an ending reminiscent of Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train," not released until the following year, beams with excitement and adventure, especially in the amusement park wrap-up. Foster as director keeps the movie moving at a fast pace with the talky parts worked in with the action; so the viewer never becomes bored.
Foster's cinematographer, Hal Mohr, makes the most of the San Francisco locale, with delicious black and white photography of the Bay area. Hopefully a pristine print will surface on DVD. This picture deserves better treatment than it has thus far received.
This neat little thriller from 1950 is all the more interesting since Ann Sheridan is the woman in the title. Miss Sheridan is most convincing as she searches for her husband who witnessed a gangland murder and must find him before the underworld does. There are many tense moments along the way especially when she ends up riding on a roller coaster. Good support from Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith and Ross Elliott plus a good screenplay help this film rise above B status.
Had a chance to watch WOMAN ON THE RUN the other night and found it an odd, but at times enjoyable noir. Ann Sheridan plays the title role and the first thing you notice about this movie is that it is chock full of the snappy, sassy dialogue that films like this are all about. Much of that great dialogue provided by Sheridan. She plays the wife of an innocent bystander(Ross Elliott) who witnesses a murder while out walking the dog but rather then help the cops and become a possible target for the killer, he flees. This backfires of course, because not only do the cops want him but also, the killer. Sheridan teams with reporter Danny Leggett, the always terrific Dennis O'Keefe, to try and find her husband before the killer and the cops do. To make matters worse, Sheridan finds out, because she was never told, that her husband suffers from a heart condition that requires medication, which he is out of. The film builds to a bizarre climax with an interesting plot twist that for me, saved the film. I say saved because even though the plot sounds pretty interesting and the characters and performers are excellent, the film is a bit too talky and slow paced at times but it does pick up towards the conclusion. Director Norman Foster does a pretty good job using San Francisco locales and creating the right amount of darkness and shadows for the night scenes. The climax at an amusement park is quite bizarre and put me in mind of an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE entitled PERCHANCE TO DREAM. I think I should mention the fine performance also of Robert Keith as the police Inspector who heads the case. An interesting, if at times slow film that comes through at the end.
I knew it. I knew if I keep watching films from my Film Noir gift box I
would come up with some good titles. This is one of them. Solid
performances by Ann Sheridan and the dependable Dennis O'Keefe, and
written and directed by Norman Foster. The pacing is good and I even
went along with the plot contrivance which serves as the climax of the
picture. Annie was coming to the end of her glamour period in Hollywood
films and she turns in a hard-boiled performance as a wife in search of
her missing husband. Always thought Dennis O'Keefe was meant for better
things than B programmers but he gets a good role here in an 'almost A'
picture. Our current rating of 7.6 may be a little gaudy, but it's a
good addition to my Film Noir collection.
Nice, isn't it, to come across a good movie when you weren't expecting one?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm not prone to exaggeration and yes, I am an avid Ann Sheridan fan.
Saying that, I thought this movie to be a real delight. It wasn't long and
it kept my attention from beginning to end. Ms. Sheridan gives a memorable
portrayal of the wife of a man that's hiding out because he's witnessed a
murder and the murderer tried to take a shot a him. Ms. Sheridan is
desperate to find her husband before the police and she teams with a
reporter that claims he wants the scoop on the story and is willing to pay
the couple that have been down on their luck. She and the reporter are
on the scent of her ailing husband, but not until the last few nerve
wrecking moments does Ms. Sheridan discover that her side-kick/reporter is
in fact the man that's looking to bump her husband off. There's a fabulous
and memorable roller coaster scene. I highly recommend this film and most
Ann Sheridan's work.
While out late one night walking his dog, Frank Johnson finds himself
in the unwanted situation of being a witness to a murder, the killer
sees Frank and fires two shots but misses. The police arrive and inform
Frank that as he can identify the killer he has to be taken in
protective custody, as the man killed was also a witness in a case
against a big mob boss and he will surely be the next target. However,
fearful for his life Frank goes on the run. His wife Eleanor (Ann
Sheridan) soon finds out that he husband is not the person she had been
bored with, but an intelligent, talented and witty man that many people
like for many reasons, believing her marriage was in permanent decline,
she suddenly remembers why she loved him in the first place and sets
out to find him with the help of a a very eager local reporter Danny
Leggett (Dennis O'Keeffe) intent on a big story that might just save
his own career. The search is made all the more frantic when Eleanor
discovers Frank had been hiding a heart defect from her and that the
police have ordered all pharmacies not to give out his required drug
without their say so.
Woman on the Run completes my viewing of Antonius Block's Top 100 Noir list and its a good one to finish with, it starts quite slowly but ups the tension with each passing minute,as the police and the killer also join the chase. O'Keeffe and Sheridan are both excellent in their respective roles and for such a low budget film, there is some very fine camera-work, in particular the scenes in the amusement park at the finish. The only thing that irked me just a little was the identity of the killer was given away too soon, albeit a nice twist, but then at a brisk 77 mins, I can't really have too much to complain about. I watched the Alpha Video disc and being a fan of Foster's work I would certainly be interested in seeing a better print of this film.
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