Monday, June 14, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Woman Wanted (1935)

WOMAN WANTED is an entertaining little MGM film about an attorney (Joel McCrea) helping an escaped convict (Maureen O'Sullivan) who was framed for murder. It's a brisk, well-paced 67 minutes which is quite enjoyable.

The film bears a distinct resemblance to then-recent films such as IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) and FUGITIVE LOVERS (1934), where a guy and a girl on the run fall in love. The movie is distinguished by its charming cast and some imaginative directing and cinematography.

The film opens with a terrific shot with the camera zooming up the exterior of a criminal courts building. There's a very good sequence where the camera looks in the window at Ann (O'Sullivan), waiting for the jury's return, and then spins over to the jury room window, then back to Ann looking through another window at Tony (McCrea), who pantomimes a lunch invitation. This sequence is visually interesting and neatly sets up the characters and Ann's crisis. The film's cinematography was by Charles Clarke.

Another sequence with Tony's loyal butler (played by wonderful Robert Grieg) helping him hide Ann from Tony's would-be fiancee (Adrienne Ames) and the police is nicely choreographed, climaxing with a Fibber McGee-like broom closet spilling all over a policeman.

For a short little movie, it delivers good entertainment value. McCrea and O'Sullivan are perfect for the parts and charming as always. Grieg, one of the great movie butlers, has a substantial role and is quite amusing. Lewis Stone is also on hand as a cagey district attorney, while Louis Calhern has a few scenes as a slimy mobster kingpin. Be on the lookout for familiar faces such as Charles Lane and Sam McDaniel.

WOMAN WANTED was directed by George B. Seitz. Seitz directed numerous MGM movies of the '30s, including TIMES SQUARE LADY (1935), SOCIETY DOCTOR (1935), YELLOW JACK (1938), and countless entries in the ANDY HARDY series. Seitz died in 1944, at the age of 56.

Maureen O'Sullivan fans may enjoy visiting this profile at Classic Images. The author, David Fury, wrote a book on O'Sullivan which I enjoyed very much.

WOMAN WANTED has not had a video or DVD release, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. The trailer is available on the TCM website. (December 2018 Update: This film is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive. My review of the DVD is here.)

WOMAN WANTED creatively tells a familiar tale and provides a pleasant hour-plus of '30s entertainment.


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