Saturday, July 6, 2019

Noir Watch: Woman on the Run (1950)

Watched:  06/30/2019
Format:  BluRay
Viewing: First
Decade:  1950's

First - this poster is doing Ann Sheridan no favors.  She's a gorgeous woman, and here she looks like a wax museum figurine that's been set too close to a lamp.  Second - like many-a-noir, this title isn't actually accurate.  The movie is about a woman seeking out her husband, who is a dude "on the run".  Unless this is when I find out "on the run" in this era meant "she's just moving about quickly", which I don't think it did.

Ann Sheridan's husband, a guy she's long since fallen out of love with and is about to divorce, it seems, witnesses a murder.  Rather than be a sitting duck as a witness - the murderer is a cold-blooded sort of fellow like to take revenge if he testifies - he legs it from the cops.  But the cops want his testimony, so he's hiding out from the cops AND the killer.  BUT... Ann Sheridan learns he's in failing health and needs a heart-pill to stay healthy, so she has to track him down.  A newspaperman joins her and the cops stay on her tail as she makes her way around 1950-ish San Francisco.

Along the way, she's pursued by the wolfish reporter, but also learns that maybe she needs to reconsider the why's and wherefore's of her failed romance - as she tracks down the husband, she sees him through the eyes of others for the first time.

The film was a tremendous final act, worth the price of admission, taking place at an old-school California boardwalk amusement park, and - as in most of the film - the photography (Hal Mohr) is something else, really using the streets of San Francisco and turning the amusement park into a a sort of nightmare-scape.  Director Norman Foster doesn't have many gems in his filmography, but I think did well here.  He'd wind up in TV within a few years, working on shows like Batman and Zorro.

In general, I liked the film - it's not going to rise to the top of my list, but I'd certainly watch it over to see what I missed and would enjoy seeing how it unfolds once you know all the details in advance.  Sheridan is terrific - the antithesis of the 50's housewife here, and a good example of what was far more possible in movie of the time than I think Jon Q Public tends to consider when making sweeping generalizations of the post-War era.

This aired on TCM a few weeks back, and I missed it, but I'd picked up the BluRay from the Film Noir Foundation a while back, so I put that in to catch up.   This was one of the films that was restored by the FNF, and the presentation is outstanding.  The story behind the preservation, included on the disk, tells you what can happen and what preservationists face.  The film's only known copy at Universal was lost in that fire that's been making the news again, and, anyway...

Well worth finding the disk to get some more insight on the movie.

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