While walking his dog one night, Frank Johnson (Ross Elliot) sees a man get shot and killed. Noticing that he has an audience, the killer shoots at Frank twice, but misses.
Realizing that his life is in danger if the man tracks him down, Frank nearly agrees to go into protective custody, but decides it’s better to go into hiding on his own since the victim was a star witness in the police’s case against the killer, a notorious gangster.
Frank’s wife Eleanor (Ann Sheridan) is asleep when this all happens, but the police wake her to let her know that her husband will be leaving. Eleanor assumes that Frank is using the crime as an excuse to run away from their marriage, which has been an unhappy one.
And so, not realizing that it could lead to her husband’s death, Eleanor reluctantly teams up with a newspaperman named Dan (Dennis O’Keefe) to track down her husband’s hiding place.
The killer is after Eleanor in hopes that she’ll lead him to Frank.
Norman Foster directs 1950’s Woman on the Run, which he also co-wrote with Alan Campbell from a story by Sylvia Tate. This noir comes from Fidelity Pictures — the same folks behind one of my favorite discoveries of 2012, House by the River.
This public domain film appears in Mill Creek’s 50 Dark Crimes boxed set. The visual quality of the print is quite fuzzy, though the audio is clear. Not too bad, but also not the best quality I’ve seen in a Mill Creek set.
After learning that Woman on the Run shared a production company with House by the River, my expectations for it increased by a sizable margin. And I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint!
Ann Sheridan’s performance in this film is great. Her character of Eleanor is a cold, straight-talking dame who doesn’t take crap from anyone. Her banter with Dennis O’Keefe as the fast-talking, sneaky, sleuthing reporter is great. Their scenes together sometimes add a bit of humor to the film, which is good since throughout most of its runtime the film’s tone is quite serious.
While I would argue that Sheridan’s solid performance is the driving force of this noir, the story is interesting as well. So many people are looking for Frank — his wife, the police, the media, criminals. All of these people, as well as the viewer, are left in the dark as to Frank’s whereabouts, and not many hints are dropped throughout the film as to where he may be. On top of that, Eleanor learns that Frank has a medical condition and worries that gangsters might not be the only thing that can kill him in this stressful situation. And there’s a pretty great plot twist in the final ten minutes or so of the film!
The film is also very nicely shot, with lots of shadowy scenes (in true noir fashion) and interesting camera angles, plus some great on-location shooting in San Francisco and a couple of really cool amusement park scenes.
I enjoyed Woman on the Run a lot. I’d recommend this one for fans of the crime drama genre, or those interested in seeing more of Ann Sheridan’s talent. This isn’t one of her best-known films, but her performance in it is great. The score: 4/5