In the years during and after World War II, women on the silver screen were forces to be reckoned with—especially in the dark, crime-ridden underworld of film noir.
There, females triumphed as more than mere femme fatales or arm candy for men. They were the dynamic main characters in dozens of noirish “women’s films,” an overlooked back alley of classic film we like to call FEMME NOIR.
These thrilling melodramas were aimed at a war-empowered female audience hungry to see the full spectrum of their experiences on the screen. Femme Noir allowed women to be strong and controlling, weak and vulnerable, sane and psychotic, sexually repressed and wildly promiscuous. And every shade of gray in between.
December 9: Woman on the Run. Film noir/Crime. Directed by Norman Foster. Written
by Alan Campbell and Norman Foster. Based on a story by Sylvia Tate. Produced by
Howard Welsch. From Universal Pictures. (Black-and- white, 1950, USA, 77 minutes, not
rated) Starring Ann Sheridan, Dennis O’Keefe, Robert Keith, John Qualen, Frank Jenks,
Ross Elliott. Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott), sole witness to a gangland murder, goes into
hiding and is trailed by Police Inspector Ferris (Robert Keith), on the theory that Frank is
trying to escape from possible retaliation. Frank's wife, Eleanor (Ann Sheridan), suspects
he is actually running away from their unsuccessful marriage. Aided by a newspaperman,
Danny Leggett (Dennis O'Keefe), Eleanor sets out to locate her husband. The killer is
also looking for him, and keeps close tabs on Eleanor.