Woman on the Run

Woman on the Run (1950)

Genres - Mystery, Drama, Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Nov 29, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 77 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Norman Foster is best remembered for his directorial credit on a string of Mr. Moto movies in the late '30s; for Journey Into Fear (1942), a film prepared and designed by Orson Welles, on which Foster merely had to (and did) follow all of Welles' detailed instructions to bring off properly; and for a bunch of Disney-produced TV projects in the 1950s. But Woman on the Run (1950) is Foster's masterpiece, a stylish, sometimes funny, always ominous and often unsettling work that has as much to say about marriage and unhappiness as it offers thrills and suspense; and in the bargain, it offers Ann Sheridan in perhaps the best role of her career, as a hardened, disillusioned woman who discovers that at least half of the problems in her life lay within herself, and that she still loves the man she thought had ruined her life. It also us gives some of the best location shooting around San Francisco (albeit in black-and-white) that audiences were to get prior to Hitchcock's Vertigo and Don Siegel's Dirty Harry (not to mention Siegel's The Lineup). Foster and his cast perform a beautiful balancing act throughout, offering scenes laced with irony and biting humor (often at the expense of Sheridan's character) while never losing sight of the notion that we're following the trail of someone who is not only in danger from a killer, but who may also be a dying man, if he doesn't stop running. The moments of humor, sly, sardonic, and understated, relieve the tension at strategic points, which helps make the overall tone of suspense that much more effective and compelling. In all, it's some of the best work ever done by most of the people involved, and that rare thriller peopled by characters that one feels good about having learned to know better from the beginning to the end.