Mike Anthony (Clark Gable) and Barney Pells (Franchot Tone) are American reporters living and working in the bustling city of London, where the stories are… not too exciting, actually. The men flip a coin to split the responsibility on two very dull assignments — a Prince’s wedding and an interview with a pilot.
Mike gets the wedding story in the coin toss and gets a much more exciting story than he bargained for when, on the way to the wedding, he sees bride Sally Parker (Joan Crawford) fleeing from the church in full wedding regalia.
Mike follows Sally to her hotel, where he hopes to get the scoop on the runaway bride’s runaway motives. He finds the door to her room unlocked, meets the crying bride, and offers to help her get away from the whole mess. Complications ensue as Mike gets to know Sally and attempts to conceal his true identity as a reporter, with Barney on his tail throughout the journey.
Love on the Run was directed by the great W. S. Van Dyke. The screenplay was written by Gladys Hurlbut, John Lee Mahin, and Manuel Seff.
Though its basic premise of “heiress and reporter hit the road” is quite familiar (ahem, It Happened One Night), Love on the Run blends in some spy intrigue and a love triangle to spice things up. There’s drama to be had, but there are laughs as well. A favorite scene: Sally and Mike dressing up in fancy clothes, dancing around and pretending to be a French king and queen, before being joined by a man who seems to think they’re ghosts!
W. S. Van Dyke brings the quick pace quite typical of his films to this tale of romance, mishap, reporters, and espionage. The script brings some pretty snappy dialogue to the table but Van Dyke’s direction makes the film even quicker in both pace and wit.
The film also features a wonderful cast — Gable and Crawford reunited, plus Franchot Tone, and a supporting cast full of talented, familiar faces. There are strong performances across the board which, along with Van Dyke’s efforts, keep Love on the Run from feeling like just another carbon copy of It Happened One Night.
Gable and Crawford are always wonderful to watch together, so I was bound to enjoy this film. (Dancing Lady is a favorite of mine.) Their love-hate relationship is incredibly entertaining, full of banter and chemistry but with a touch of vitriol, too. This was the seventh of eight films they made together for MGM.
Love on the Run is a sometimes-daffy but thoroughly enjoyable flick for fans of the ’30s rom-com. Fine performances make a light and fast-paced script even more entertaining. I’d readily watch this one again. The score: 4/5