Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 21st, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1950
Director: Norman Foster
Writers: Alan Campbell, Norman Foster
Cast: Ann Sheridan, Dennis O’Keefe, Robert Keith, John Qualen, Frank Jenks, Ross Elliott, Jane Liddell, Joan Shawlee
BluRay released: June 13th, 2016
Approximate running time: 78 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 aspect ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region A,B / Region 1,2 NTSC (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Woman on the Run was co-written and directed by Norman Foster whose other notable films include, Journey into Fear, Rachel and the Stranger and Father the Bachelor. Key collaborators on Woman on the Run include, screenwriter Alan Campbell (A Star is Born – 1937 version, The Little Foxes), cinematographer Hal Mohr (The Wild One) and composer Emil Newman (Laura, Fallen Angel).
One of Film Noir’s greatest assets is that unlike other genres it is not bound by the same rules. And though the majority of Film Noir’s are rooted in mystery / crime drama’s. It is not bound exclusively too these two types of films. Since its inception in the early 1940’s Film Noir and elements associated with it have found their way into just about every genre, Sci-Fi, Horror and Western have all had films influenced by the Film Noir aesthetic.
As mentioned before when it comes to Film Noir’s there are key elements that define this type of film. With visual style being at the forefront of these things and nowhere is this more evident than in how the image is framed and when it comes to lighting. Also when discussing Film Noir one cannot deny the influence of German Expressionism.
Content wise, Woman on the Run has all the ingredients one would want or expect from a Film Noir. The well-constructed narrative is filled with an ample amount of twists and turns and pacing is never an issues as things are always moving forward at a brisk momentum. And though this genre tends to focus more towards its male characters. With the majority of its female characters falling into the Femme Fatale role or the obligatory wife / girlfriend character that is not much more then window dressing. Fortunately, this not the case with Woman on the Run as it is one of those rare instances where a female character is the protagonist.
From a production stand point there is not an area where this film does not deliver the goods. The film’s visuals are consistently strong throughout. With the film’s standout moment visually being the finale, most notably the moments where the protagonist is trapped on a roller-coaster and she is unable to warn her husband of the impending danger he is walking into. Another chilling moment is when the killer realizes that there is a drawing of him and he has to backtrack to retrieve it and kill the young woman who possesses it.
Performance wise the secondary cast members are good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performances coming from its two leads, Ann Sheridan (They Drive by Night) in the role of Eleanor Johnson, the protagonist and Dennis O’Keefe (The Leopard Man) in the role Dan Legget, a reporter who helps Eleanor find her missing husband. Another performance of note is Ross Elliott (Woman in the Dark) in the role of the missing husband who witnessed a murder at the beginning of the film.
Woman on the Run comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Considering how difficult it was to find usable elements and this brand new 2k transfer from a restoration source looks amazing. Print debris is minimal and never intrusive, details look crisp, black and contrast levels look very good throughout. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. Though rather limited range wise, this never becomes too much of issues since this is dialog driven film and dialog always comes through clearly and everything sounds balanced. Also the source is good shape as there are no issues with background noise or distortion.
Extras for this release include, a short documentary Noir City (9 minutes 51 seconds) directed by Joe Talbot about the annual Noir City Film Festival presented by the Film Noir Foundation at San Francisco’s historic Castro Theater, a featurette titled Woman on the Run: Then and Now (6 minutes 57 seconds), a restoration featurette tilted A Wild Ride: Restoring Woman on the Run (5 minutes 5 seconds), a featurette titled Love is a Rollercoaster: Woman on the Run Revisited (16 minutes and 48 seconds) and an audio commentary with author, historian, and “noirchaeologist” Eddie Muller.
Topics discussed in the extra titled Rollercoaster: Woman on the Run Revisited include, its star Ann Sheridan and how this film project came about, how she bought out her contract with Warner brothers to gain more freedom in choosing what films she wanted to make, how the screenplay often imitated real life as the bulk of it was improvised, Norman Fosters direction, the cast and information about them, locations featured in the film and the lack of availability of this film over the years, due to its lackluster theatrical run and the fact that company that made it no longer existed.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, Howard Welsch and Fidelity Pictures Corporation who produced the film, the cast and information about the film, the original story and how it differs from the film, locations featured in the film, Ann Sheridan, her performance and her role as a producer on this film, the screenplay and cast contributions to it, Norman Foster’s direction and other information about him.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Woman on the Run: Rescued from the Ashes written by Eddie Muller and information about the restoration. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Woman on the Run gets a solid release from Arrow Academy, highly recommended.