"He Ran All the Way" is a black and white hostage drama from 1951, based on Sam Ross' (first) novel of the same name. Hostage films were popular due to the success of "The Petrified Forest" (1936), and include such films as "Heat Lightning" (1934) with Anne Dvorak and Preston Foster, "Highway West" (1941) with Brenda Marshall and William Lundigan, "Escape in the Desert" (1945) with Jean Sullivan and Helmut Dantine, and "Key Largo" (1948) with Humphrey Bogart and Edward G Robinson.
The film stars ruggedly handsome John Garfield (1913-52), the original "method" actor, as a petty thief (turned cop killer) on the run. Garfield made his screen debut in 1938 with the popular "Four Daughters" for which he received his first Best Supporting Actor nomination (he got his second in 1947 for "Body and Soul"), and "They Made me a Criminal" (1949) propelled him into the A list. He's best known for "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946). Blacklisted in the communist scare of the early 50s, his career was cut short, and he died in 1952 at age 39. This was his last film.
FWIW - Garfield had severe heart problems (he died shortly after the film) and was under enormous stress due to the HUAC inquisition. Where possible a double was used for the strenuous scenes. OTOH, Garfield is seen to be chain smoking throughout the film.
Shelley Winters (1920-2006) plays a lonely bakery worker who befriends Garfield only to find that she and her family are taken hostage. Winters was a great actress, nominated 4 times for an Oscar and winning twice ("Diary of Anne Frank", "A Patch of Blue"). She also earned 3 Emmy nominations and 1 win in 1964. She won the Golden Globe for "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972).
Wallace Ford (1898-1966) plays Winters' father. Ford appeared in over 100 films from 1930 to 1965, often as a comic foil. He did 5 films for John Ford including "They Were Expendable" (1945) and "The Last Hurrah" (1958). He was nominated for a Golden Laurel in 1965 for "A Patch of Blue", his last film.
Norman Lloyd (1914) plays Garfield's partner in crime. Lloyd worked with Orson Welles and John Houseman and later with Hitchcock. He was twice nominated for an Emmy and his film credits include "Saboteur" (1942) and "Spellbound" (1945). He also had an active career directing on TV, especially for Hitchcock, and produced dozens of series ("Tales of the Unexpected", "Journey to the Unknown") and TV movies.
John Berry (1917-99) directs. Berry got his start working with Orson Welles and John Houseman and was active in the late 40s. Shortly before making this film he made "Hollywood 10" (1950) about the persecution of actors and directors by HUAC, and this earned him a place on the blacklist and virtually ended his career in the US.
FWIW - Robert de Niro portrayed Berry in the film "Guilty by Suspicion" (1991).
The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo (1905-76), another victim of the Hollywood blacklist. Trumbo won the Oscar twice ("The Brave One", "Roman Holiday") and was nominated a third time ("Kitty Foyle"). He won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes for "Johnny Got His Gun" (1971). He wrote "Spartacus" under an assumed name, and when Kirk Douglas insisted that his real name be used, this broke the black list.
FWIW - The film was actually produced by Garfield since he was blacklisted and unable to get a job with any of the studios. Hence the number of blacklisted people also employed. The film credit goes to his long time friend Bob Roberts.
The cinematography is by James Wong Howe (1899-1976), one of Hollywood's best cameramen. Howe's characteristic use of deep focus and dramatic lighting are well in evidence. Howe was nominated for an Oscar 10 times and won twice ("Hud" and "The Rose Tatoo"), making him one of the most acknowledged cinematographers in film history.
Franz Waxman (1906-67) provides the score. Waxman was nominated for an Oscar 10 times and won twice ("A Place in the Sun" and "Sunset Blvd"). He was a favorite of Hitchcock who used him in 4 films and earned 2 of his Oscar nominations ("Rebecca" and "Suspicion"). Among his other notable films are "Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), "Fury" (1936), and Captains Courageous" (1937). Although Waxman could be great, in this film his music is heavy handed and intrusive.
The NY Times' Bosley Crowther said "a very thin thread of plausibility is stretched exceedingly taut" but nonetheless called the film "a shock-crammed script" and praised Garfield's performance as "full of startling glints from start to end."
1951 was a good year for films. The top grossing films were "Quo Vadis", "Alice in Wonderland", "Show Boat", "A Streetcar Named Desire", and "David and Bathsheba". Oscars went to "The Quiet Man" (Director), "High Noon" (Actor), "Come Back Little Sheba" (Actress), "The Greatest Show on Earth" (Picture), and "Viva Zapata" (Supporting Actor). Other notable releases that year included "The African Queen", "The Day the Earth Stood Still", "Murder Inc", and "A Place in the Sun".
This film is often mistakenly called "noir" but it can more properly be called downbeat. The protagonist is a petty criminal with no redeeming qualities (in the first scene he curses at his mother), and the film chronicles the last day in his life following the killing of a cop during a failed robbery. There are no double nor triple crosses and no femme fatale, and there is no cast of seedy characters as is customary in "film noir". Bottom line - there is almost nothing "noirish" about this film, apart from the fact it's shot in NYC and it concerns a petty criminal.
That being said, it is certainly an entertaining film and the performances are better than average. Fans who enjoy Garfield's "tough guy" persona will find it on display here.