Woman on the Run (1950): Intelligent B Thriller

Woman on the Run (1950)

The wife of a man who goes into hiding after witnessing a gangland killing, tries to track him down before the killer does (Fidelity Pictures 1950 Directed by Norman Foster 77 mins)

A great b-thriller from Foster, who had a (disputed) role in the making of Orson Welles’ Journey Into Fear (1943)  and directed Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948).  The  picture moves apace on the streets, tenements, dives, and wharfs of San Fransisco, with a novel climax at a beach-side amusement park.  A nice twist half-way through the movie ramps up the tension to the finale on and around a roller-coaster. Anne Sheridan is great in a role that moves from an indifferent wife in a failing marriage through a street-wise dame with a razor wit to the hysterical woman back in love desperately trying to save her husband’s life. The supporting b-cast performs well by playing stock characters with some considerable vitality and depth.

The movie’s noir credentials come not only from low-key lighting and sharply angled night shots, but from an intelligent screenplay that explores the ennui of a disintegrating marriage and its revival after the protagonists learn more about each other from other people than they can have imagined.   The savage murder of an innocent young cabaret dancer that gets in the way of the killer desperately trying to hide his identity, is off-screen,  but poignantly handled to add a tragic undertone to the story.

A truly engaging film.

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