“Say, are you the house dick, or am I?”
No, this is not a 1930’s porn!!! Filthy mind! I just liked the quote I thought it was funny. A woman who works as a salesclerk is asking a house detective if he is supposed to be the detective or is she.
So anyway… Woman Wanted is about a young woman named Ann Gray (Maureen O’Sullivan). She has just been convicted of killing her boyfriend when she was not the one who killed him but all the evidence is against her. Her boyfriend was mixed up with a mobster named Smiley Gordon (Louis Calhern). Smiley and his crew believe Ann knows where her boyfriend kept $250,000. Ann has no idea that her boyfriend was keeping $250,000 anywhere.
On the way to the jail the car Ann was in is hit by a truck. Smiley has planned a car accident so they can get Ann and get the information they think she knows. Ann gets away unharmed and gets into any car she can. The car she jumps is being driven by a man named Tony Baxter (Joel McCrea). Tony had been making eyes at her at the courthouse between windows. He takes her back to his place which unfortunately has a house detective on duty in the lobby. The detective sees something familiar about Ann but he cannot figure out why.
As Ann is washing up Tony’s fiancé Betty comes over. Now with the help of his awesome butler Peedles he has to hide Ann. Downstairs in the lobby the newspapers come with Ann’s face splashed across the front page. The detective calls the police and they come over right away. Now Tony is in a really tight spot with trying to hide Ann from the cops as well. Peedles once again saves the day by hiding Ann.
That night Ann tells Tony her whole ordeal and why she was convicted. He believes she did not kill her boyfriend. One of Smiley’s men and someone Ann trusts calls Tony’s place looking for her. The man says that if she comes out to him he can clear her name. The call is a trick designed to get Ann alone so get her to tell them where their money is.
Tony takes her out to the country where the man said to meet them. The plan backfires and now both fugitive and lawyer are running not just from the police but also the mob.
Maureen O’Sullivan and Joel McCrea worked very well together and both were just excellent. I have only ever seen O’Sullivan in The Thin Man and in a few scenes of that film she overacts. I was a bit worried she would do the same here but she did not she was very good and she handled the drama nicely. I love McCrea he was the perfect amount of seriousness and the perfect amount of funny. Most of the time I could not get over how big McCrea was he was so broad he almost completely dwarfed O’Sullivan. Robert Creig as Peedles was also perfect he added some well delivered comedy to the film. The first time I had ever seen Louis Calhern in a film was in Asphalt Jungle so I was not surprised to see him play a gangster and make the character seem real and calm.
Woman Wanted often feels like it does not know if it wants to be a flat out comedy or a flat out drama it is somewhere in the middle. Sometimes the comedy felt a bit misplaced and weird. Besides that aspect the film is really good. The story is good it is not boring at. Woman Wanted is unfortunately not available on DVD I recorded this off of TCM a few months ago (and I just finally got around to it). If the film is ever airing on TCM again give it a try.