Sunday, February 2, 2020
Romance on the Run (1938)
Private detective Barry Drake has been hired by an insurance company to retrieve the Tsarina's Tear, a priceless diamond necklace before its absence spells doom. He finds it quick as can be, but it turns out to be a fake, and mistrustful Lieutenant Eckhart, already looking for an excuse too pinch Drake, puts out a warrant for his arrest. Now on the run, Drake has to trace shifty nightclub singer Lily Lamont and her criminal boyfriend, all the while dodging the tracks of Eckhart, and a determined insurance assistant trying to get her job back...
Romance on the Run is your typical comedy crime caper from the 1930s. Always a fun genre, and this is no exception. It starts out well, introducing us to everyone and everything, and doing a mostly fine job at it. There might be so teething troubles as you get used to everyone, but that's soon overcome.
The film soon becomes a chase, and it's a really entertaining one. The heroes are chasing the bad guys from here to there, get ahold of the diamond, get chased from there to here, and so on. Add to that the police on everyone's tail, and there's plenty of excitement to be had. There are a few twists and turns, resulting in a very satisfactory ending.
This is a good mix of comedy and crime, never feeling too goofy or serious. There are plenty of funny setpieces too, such as the hotel 'dip', and the amusingly unflattering depiction of hillbillies.
The characters are a high point. With a small cast, it makes the most of them, and each = feels relatively fleshed out sidekick Whitehouse is a fun Dopey but not criminally so, he helps out a lot, and is a surprisingly useful comic relief The villains get less to do however, and never feel like a threat. It is interesting how equal the two parties' footing is, but I kinda wish the bad guys were a little tougher.
Other characters include the dogged police inspector and the family of gun-crazy hillbillies. They're an amusing addition to the climax, And lastly, before I forget too, there's Drake's fiancee! He starts out the movie with an exasperated romantic partner, and after coming and going during their date to complete his case, he tells her not to move, and he'll be right back. She's never seen or heard from again.
The acting in Romance of the Run is all solid. Donald Woods is an amusing lead, nailing a good mix of likeable and rogueish without being obnoxious. Patricia Ellis is nice as Dale, bringing a lot of life to her role. She resembles Marcia Mae Jones, and I thought it was her at first, until I realised the maths didn't add up. Edward Brophy is the heart of the picture as comic relief Whitehouse, and never overstays his welcome.
This is well directed, from the shoot-outs to the car chases, and everything in-between. You can tell there's been care put into how the movie looks, and it never looks dull.
At 53 minutes long, Romance on the Run is a snug little movie, bound to entertain in under an hour!