Woman on the Run, 1950, Norman Foster

Double Feature

Raw Deal (1948)

Studio: Eagle-Lion Films; Regie: Anthony Mann; Drehbuch: Leopold Atlas, John C. Higgins, Arnold B. Armstrong, Audrey Ashley; Kamera: John Alton; Musik: Paul Sawtell; Darsteller: Dennis O'Keefe, Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt, John Ireland, Raymond Burr, Curt Conway, Chili Williams. 35mm, sw, 79 min*

Woman on the Run (1950)

Studio: Fidelity Pictures Corporation; Regie: Norman Foster; Drehbuch: Alan Campbell, Norman Foster, Sylvia Tate; Kamera: Hal Mohr; Musik: Arthur Lange, Emil Newman; Darsteller: Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith, John Qualen, Frank Jenks, Ross Elliott, Jane Liddell. 35mm, sw, 77 min**
"I want to breathe" flüstert der Held dieses bis zur Neige düsteren Films, mit dem Anthony Mann der Schwarzen Serie einen weiteren dunklen Höhepunkt hinzugesellt. Der Ausbruch aus dem Gefängnis wird Joe aus einer Zelle nur in eine andere klaustrophobische ZeIlen-Abfolge führen. Raw Deal fabuliert das 20. Jahrhundert-Märchen vom Untergang in Bildern mit einem Minimum an Licht und Schattenmustern aus unzähligen Arten von Schwarz. Ein Bösewicht, der mit Feuer spielt und in diesem vergeht. Ein Kampf im Dunkeln, in dessen Chaos die Kombattanten trachten, einander auf die Geweihe ausgestopfter Tiere aufzuspießen. Woman on the Run ist allein schon ein guter Grund für die Neubewertung des talentierten Norman Foster, der einige der besten Filme der Serien um Charlie Chan und Mr. Moto drehte. Ann Sheridan muss ihren Ehemann verstecken, der unschuldig des Mordes bezichtigt wird. Der Film nützt die lokaltypische Atmosphäre der Drehorte in San Francisco und Los Angeles in seinem rasanten Handlungsverlauf, dessen Höhepunkt der Kameramann Hal Mohr am Santa Monica Pier mit expressiven Kamerabewegungen veredelt. (H. T./H. G.)
*Print courtesy of British Film Institute
**35mm print restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Restoration Funding provided by the Film Noir Foundation

Aus dem Katalog zur Retrospektive:

Is Raw Deal the most beautiful "ménage à trois" in all film history? The late João Bénard da Costa, fond of superlatives, would have called it "un-adjectivable". Pat (Claire Trevor) loves Joe (Dennis O'Keefe), who loves Ann (Marsha Hunt), who hates Pat, who envies Ann, who loves Joe, who trusts Pat ... One generally remembers Anthony Mann's noir films for their cinematography and mise-en-scène. John Alton's black and white images are indeed remarkable. The precise and elaborate cutting, always relying on depth of field, shot/counter-shot, surprisingly efficient compositions, marvels us shot after shot. The images are often almost abstract, belonging to and moving away from the plot (Pat and the unstoppable clock inside the ship towards the end of the film), becoming iconic by themselves. But what touches me most is Claire Trevor's deep, whispered voice drawing us into the film and past the prison gate in the tense opening scene (No trespassing – she shouldn't have crossed that gate and the film would have taken another turn, as her rival Ann so desires), catching us inside her mind, as if she was writing the film itself unfolding before us. The maximum effect with the minimun means. The briefest shot has to be part of the overall signification, the smallest gesture has to describe a character. (Anthony Mann to Jean-Claude Missiaen, Cahiers du Cinéma nº 190, May 1967). Isn't this the definition par excellence of B-movies? Or cinema itself? (João Rui Guerra da Mata)

Typically dismissed as a minor director whose best work was as assistant to Orson Welles, the talented Norman Foster had a significant career unto his own that began with his work directing some of the best entries in the Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto series (see Mr. Moto's Last Warning included in this program) but also included a group of accomplished Spanish language genre films made in Mexico. Perhaps the best place to launch a reevaluation of Foster is the rediscovered noir thriller Woman on the Run, starring Ann Sheridan as an estranged wife searching for her embittered artist husband-in-hiding after he is targeted by the mob for accidently witnessing a crime. Joining Sheridan in her rescue mission through the urban underbelly is Dennis O'Keefe's strangely insistent crime reporter who may have alternate motives. Woman on the Run makes stunning use of its San Francisco and Los Angeles locations to inject a vérité energy and palpable danger to its gripping story, including a thrilling roller coaster climax shot on the Santa Monica pier by pioneering cinematographer Hal Mohr who across his long career refined dollies and cranes to make possible a richer kind of expressive camera movement. (Haden Guest)

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