HIDING FROM TROUBLE
THE SECOND WOMAN
A film noir, psychological drama, mystery, thriller, romance in the vein of Spellbound and Rebecca comes this 1951 film noir from director James V. Kern. Robert Young stars as Jeff Cohalan, a successful architect who is tormented by the fact that his fiancée was killed in a mysterious car accident on the night before their wedding. Blaming himself for her death, Colahan spends his time alone, lamenting in the cliff-top home he'd designed for his bride to be.
To make matters worse, ever since the accident, Colahan seems to be followed by bad luck. His horse and dog turn up dead without explanation, leading him to wonder if he has been cursed. Enter Ellen Foster (Betsy Drake), an independent and intelligent insurance investigator who just might be able to help Colahan figure out who or what's behind all of his misfortune.
WOMAN ON THE RUN
Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott), a window-dresser and struggling artist, accidentally witnesses a mob-related rub-out of a witness (Thomas P. Dillon), while out walking his dog one night -- after being shot at for his trouble, he's approached by the police, who want to put him into protective custody. But before they can do that, he runs out, and it's up to Inspector Ferris (Robert Keith) to find him before the killer does. He approaches Johnson's wife, Eleanor (Ann Sheridan), only to discover that not only were they the most distant -- nearly estranged -- couple he's ever encountered, but that she doesn't want to help find him, or care if he is found.
Then she learns that he has a potentially serious heart condition that he never told her about, and that he has no medication -- she decides to try and find him to give him help, dodging the police with help from a pushy reporter named Leggett (Dennis O'Keefe), covering his job and all of his old haunts; and in the process, she discovers a man that she never really bothered to know or understand, one who not only wanted to love her but does love her, despite the way their marriage has gone, and discovers that there may still be a marriage worth saving. But to do that she's got to find him to head off not only a potentially fatal heart seizure but also save him from the killer who, unbeknownst to her, is just a step behind her and has already started covering her trail and murdering potential witnesses
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. 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.