Woman On The Run

WOMAN ON THE RUN is the great Ann Sheridan, who also co-produced this tightly drawn 1950 crime foray, an out-of-left-field winner. It’s a blessing we can even see it: back in 2008 a fire destroyed the only known print. An admirer did some sleuthing, found a surviving 35mm copy in Great Britain: with the good offices of several preservation purveyors an overlooked gem was rescued from oblivion.

Walking his dog one San Franciscan evening, a man witnesses a murder and is almost hit when the killer shoots at him before fleeing. After questioning by the police, ‘Frank Ross’ ducks out himself, leaving his wife ‘Eleanor’ (Sheridan, 35) fending off inquiries, first from ‘Inspector Ferris’ (Robert Keith), then from persistent journalist ‘Daniel Legget’ (Dennis O’Keefe). Her shaky marriage has issues, but knowing the killer will try and get rid of the only witness, she tries to find Frank on her own, eventually accepting the help of the reporter. The truth is harder to uncover when the clock is ticking and you don’t know who to trust.

Partially shot on location in San Francisco (Hal Mohr on camera) with finishing thrills done down in Santa Monica, directed by Norman Foster, the banter-blessed script was written by Foster and Alan Campbell, with Sheridan and O’Keefe providing much of their own cat & mouse dialogue.

As with the principals, every minor character is etched with care, there are surprising reversals that jack up the tension, and the finish packs a neat jolt of excitement. Modern reviewers beat the phrase “roller coaster ride” to purple smithereens, but it’s literal and fitting in this instance. Superior repartee throughout, O’Keefe and Keith bring urgency and bite and, as ever, the smart and sexy Sheridan has ‘real dame’ moxie to spare. *

Grosses reached $900,000.Timed to a just-right 77 minutes. With Ross Elliott (the AWOL hubby), John Qualen (dropping the Swedish act this time), Steven Geray, J. Farrell McDonald, Frank Jenks, Victor Sen Yung, Reiko Sato, Joan Shawlee (a funny bit) and Sammee Tong.

* Toiling for seven years (189 uncredited bits, many in classic films), tall, ruggedly handsome O’Keefe finally got noticed in the late 1930’s and moved into higher bracket work. Adept at projecting likability and toughness, he knocked down another 91 assignments until passing away in 1968 at the age of 60. Nine years younger, Ann Sheridan preceded him, leaving us in 1967. Her personality glows on in her films.

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