Woman on the Run

As Startling as Your OWN Scream in the Night!

Crime Thriller Mystery
77 min     6.769     1950     USA


Frank Johnson, a sole witness to a gangland murder, goes into hiding and is trailed by Police Inspector Ferris, on the theory that Frank is trying to escape from possible retaliation. Frank's wife, Eleanor, suspects he is actually running away from their unsuccessful marriage. Aided by a newspaperman, Danny Leggett, Eleanor sets out to locate her husband. The killer is also looking for him, and keeps close tabs on Eleanor.


Steve wrote:
It's been a long time since Film Noir of the Week first discussed Woman on the Run. At the time the film was just put out on a public domain DVD label. Through the haze and scratchy audio it was clear that the film is just excellent. The highly enjoyable crime film and sometimes travelogue of 40s San Francisco is irresistible. True, most remember Ann Sheridan shedding her glamorous persona or the dogged cop stuck with the dog (Robert Keith). But what I've really grown to appreciate is Dennis O'Keefe. He plays a machine-gun talking reporter rat-tat-tatting his lines as he tails Sheridan. O'Keefe was from a show biz family. His parents were a duo in a vaudeville act that would frequently travel to Los Angeles. By the time O'Keefe was 16 the experienced vaudevillian himself was writing for the "Our Gang" series -- penning scripts or just coming up with gags. When not writing, he was an extra and even a sometimes stunt man in countless films -- including a bit part in The Marx Brothers Duck Soup at the age of 25. But he struggled to make a success of himself. Legend has it, Clark Gable noticed the young extra while making Saratoga and ordered a screen test. By 1938, the bit-part actor was now in credited roles and would enjoy a healthy career in film in front of the camera. But O'Keefe probably would have been just fine as a writer. The 1938 film The Kid Comes Back writer Don Miller in "B" Movies: An Informal Survey of the American Low-Budget Film 1933-1945 called the movie "fast, funny, studiously avoided the formula cliches peculiar to films around prize fights... the story, by the way, is by E.J. Flanagan, who at the time was a struggling bit player. Flanagan hit the jackpot later... when he became Dennis O'Keefe." Just as O'Keefe was making a name as an actor. According to his 1968 obituary in the NY Times, O'Keefe never stopped writing during his acting days. While playing the lead in the great T-Men, he worked on the script with John C. Higgins. It's not surprising that none of his writing for Our Gang, The Kid Comes Back and T-Men are noted on his IMDB page. He, like so many other jack-of-all-trades, did every job in the business but is only really remembered today for his work in front of the camera. His acting was worth remembering, though. His notable films in the film noir world include The Leopard Man, T-Men, Raw Deal, The Company She Keeps and Abandoned. But you'd be crazy to forget his comedic roles in Brewster's Millions, The Affairs of Jimmy Valentine and Topper Returns. I really enjoy him in Woman on the Run. Check out the way O'Keefe pronounces "Po-leece" during a chat in Chinatown, or his crack about a female cop tailing them "Say, did you get a load of that female impersonator following you?" I'm convinced that O'Keefe had a hand in polishing his lines in Woman on the Run. He may be second banana in the film, but he certainly holds his own.
John Chard wrote:
It's more frightening than romantic. It's the way love is when you're young... life is when you're older. Woman on the Run is directed by Norman Foster who also co-adapts the screenplay with Alan Campbell from a story by Sylvia Tate. It stars Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith and Ross Elliott. Music is by Arthur Lange and Emil Newman and cinematography by Hal Mohr. When Frank Johnson (Elliott) witnesses a man being shot and he himself is shot at by the killer, he decides to go on the run rather than trust police protective custody. The police turn to Frank's wife, Eleanor (Sheridan) to help track him down, but she thinks he has other reasons to runaway. Aided by newspaperman Danny Leggett (O'Keefe), who is after the exclusive story, Eleanor follows the trail left by her husband; but nothing is as it first seems... Compact at under 80 minutes, Woman on the Run is something of a little seen film noir offering. Basically a man hunt in essence, picture boasts strong atmosphere around the San Francisco locations and a last 15 minutes of noir excellence. In the narrative is a failing relationship that gets expanded upon as the story moves forward, and of course there's a twist, which thankfully is a genuine surprise. It's also very well performed, especially by the excellent Sheridan. The problem is that for the first hour it is exposition heavy, while the musical score is often too chirpy, a hindrance to the visual atmospherics. However, once we reach the last quarter and the story unfolds at an amusement park (Pacific Ocean Park), the picture hits its stride. Here is where the shadowy photography takes on a sinister edge, the action seemingly in a drug induced state. It's a terrific finale that lifts the film from being ordinary into must see status for the film noir faithful. 7/10
CinemaSerf wrote:
This is a rather superior little crime feature with a good, workmanlike cast delivering quite a suspenseful story without any fuss. "Frank Johnson" witnesses a gangland murder and goes into hiding. Soon enough the police - Robert Keith; his rather disgruntled wife - Ann Sheridan - and her newspaper pal Dennis O'Keefe are all trying to track him down; one because they think he might know more and be in danger from retaliation; the others because they think he might be absconding from an dodgy marriage. It's got quite a few entertaining twists and turns - and you just know that one of them isn't going to be who they claim to be; a secret that holds reasonably fast until quite near the end. It's got some nice looking cinematography - San Francisco looks good, as do the cast and the script is taut and keeps the whole thing moving along apace.