Woman Wanted (1935)

(Image via cinemaocd.blogspot)

Ann Grey (Maureen O’Sullivan) is a wrongly convicted woman. She’s being sent to jail for a murder that she didn’t commit. During transport to the jail, a car accident allows her to escape, but even though she’s no longer headed to jail, her troubles are just beginning.

Young lawyer Tony Baxter (Joel McCrea) meets and decides to help Ann, hiding her from the police with the help of his butler, Peedles (Robert Grieg). He must also hide her from his suspicious fiance and a group of angry mobsters who are out to kidnap Ann for information.

Directed by George B. Seltz and based on the story by Wilson Collison, this film – frequently billed as a crime drama – clocks in at about 67 minutes.

Joel McCrea and Maureen O’Sullivan on set (Image via ebay.com)

Though listed as a crime drama, there is a subtle comedy to Woman Wanted. While this makes for some certainly amusing moments, the film feels too calm compared to other crime films. Combine that with an all-too-happy ending, and you’ve got the makings of a somewhat confusing picture.

The plot is intriguing and could have made for a very exciting “fugitive-dame-on-the-run” film, but it doesn’t meet that potential. The pacing is good and the energy is fairly high, but the suspense and surprises are few and far between.

There is some redemption here. The performances, both lead and support, are good. They don’t tumble off of the corny cliff or go too over-the-top.

The film works in the sense that the audience does root for the two leads, but it doesn’t suit the genre that it’s frequently labeled with. I’d call it more of a mix of comedy and romance with a little bit of crime-based suspense thrown in as an afterthought. As a fan of crime dramas who was hoping for something much more thrilling and suspenseful*, this one missed the mark for me. The score: 2/5

*I do plan on re-watching this at some point, with the knowledge that it isn’t a straight crime drama, in order to see if I enjoy it more with that mindset. I will add an update to this post when I get around to that second viewing!

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