‘Woman on The Run’ or — Into The Night?
Frank Johnson is walking his dog one night when he witnesses a brutal mob killing. Reluctant to help the police in case he is next on the hit-man’s list Frank disappears into the dark, leaving behind his dog. Seems that’s not all Frank’s left behind as it transpires he had a wife too but when the cops appeal to Frank’s wife, Eleanor, to possibly convince her husband to come out of hiding she tells them she doesn’t think she can help as it’s looking more and more likely that Frank has taken this as an opportunity to get away from her. Oh dear.
It’s not that Eleanor is a horrible person or anything. Sure, she’s got a sassy and flippant way of expressing herself and it certainly appears their marriage was a rocky one but it’s not as though she deliberately drove Frank away. She’s simply a tough woman in a bad situation.
The cops keep watch over the Johnson house in case Frank returns or Eleanor attempts to slip out and pick up her husband’s trail… which she does. Bumping into a rather cute, but obnoxious, reporter who wants in on this juicy story the two team-up and before long Eleanor discovers what seems to be a trail of clues Frank has left behind which only she can decipher.
It now becomes a race against time with Eleanor attempting to find Frank before the police or the hit-man does and as she discovers more clues to her husband’s location so we discover more about their marriage and how it is not quite what it first seemed.
‘Woman on The Run’ (1950) is a really cool little Noir and contains all the elements you’d want from one. All the characters are finely drawn and distinct, the dialogue is smart and funny, there’s some great location shooting on the streets of San Francisco, a pretty nice twist and an exciting climax at a fun-fair. This is also one of those ‘Noir goes to therapy’ flicks with the filmmakers not so much leaning heavily into psychoanalysis for explanations as pushing their backs against it and shoving with all their might. There’s a great, unspoken, gag about a pipe just after some chat about Freud that shows how sly this script is for this film, and there’s many little similar gems scattered throughout.
Indeed, it’s the way the characters all play off each other that’s the real pleasure here with the plot sort of taking a bit of a back seat at times. Ann Sheridan is great as Eleanor, easily shifting gears from dry sarcasm to loving concern and even some physical comedy with ease. She has some nice back and forth with Dennis O’Keefe as the self-confessed obnoxious reporter whom she teams up with as well as some cute scenes with the prying cops.
‘Woman on The Run’ isn’t without a few, pretty forgivable, flaws though with some of the dialogue being a tad under-cooked as opposed to hard-boiled and some of Frank’s clues being somewhat silly and far-fetched but it’s got a brisk running time of 77 minutes so there’s very little hanging about going on here; it’s a story that knows where it is going and it, simply, does so. The directing and cinematography are also quite captivating so all the technical aspects here are professionally handled.
If you’re a Noir fan then ‘Woman on The Run’ is worth checking out. It has a tight, compact story involving interesting characters and has some great lines and zingers peppered throughout. Sure, you might see the twist coming and it does reveal itself a little too early to achieve maximum shock but this is a very enjoyable dash to go on.