I don't know exactly how Woman on the Run ended up on my watchlist, especially considering I've never heard of this film before (it is possible though that someone picked it on Thursday Movie Picks, I found it interesting and added on the list). Anyway, if it's there, there must be a reason, I told myself, so I watched it.
In San Francisco, Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott) witnesses a murder while walking his dog at night. When the police get there, he learns that the victim was about to testify in a court case against a gangster so Mr. Johnson feels from the police. The inspector (Robert Keith) in charge of the investigation asks Johnson's wife, Eleanor (Ann Sheridan), for help to find the husband and convince him to testify in court. She is convinced that Frank is only running away from their unsuccessful marriage, and, with the help of a reporter, Danny Leggett (Dennis O'Keefe), she sets out to find her husband. But the killer is also looking for him.
Though it does have a good twist, the plot is quite predictable and gives away the identity of the murderer way too soon which basically kills all the mystery. Also, I found some parts to be too slow paced which took away some of the tension.
That being said, the misleading Woman on the Run --it should have been Man on the Run, like the 1948 short play this film is based on-- still manages to be a captivating film and that's because of the main focus of the film. Manhunt films usually are either shown from the perspective of the police or from the perspective of the wanted man. Not this time. We see the whole story from the wife's point of view and that's the film's greatest strength (the title still doesn't make sense to me).
The unusual point of view is effective because the filmmakers put quite some effort in developing the main character. As the plot moves forward, we learn about her and about the relationship with her husband. She is bitter and cynical but she is not an evil woman and definitely not a femme fatale. Ann Sheridan gives a good performance and carries the film effortlessly.
Though the main focus is Mrs. Johnson, we also learn a lot about Mr. Johnson --thank you, Mrs. Johnson/Ann Sheridan, for that. The standout among the supporting characters though is the reporter, Danny Leggett. As he says, he is a little obnoxious but pleasant, and Dennis O'Keefe's performance is terrific.
Ultimately, Woman on the Run isn't the best noir film out there, but it's different, quite suspenseful and has a fitting sinister cinematography.