Reviewed by DAVID L. VINEYARD:         

THE RUNAROUND. Universal Pictures, 1946. Ella Raines, Rod Cameron, Broderick Crawford, Frank McHugh, George Cleveland, Joan Fulton, Samuel S. Hinds. Screenplay: Arthur T. Horman & Sam Hillman, based on a story by Arthur T. Horman & Walter Wise. Director: Charles Lamont.


   The Runaround is a mild screwball comedy in the vein of It Happened One Night, lifted above itself by the performances of Ella Raines, Rod Cameron, and Broderick Crawford, and solid direction from frequent Abbott and Costello director, Charles Lamont.

   The plot might have come right out of the pulps or the slicks of the period. Cameron is Eddie Kildane, a private eye who has started his own agency with partner Wally Quayle (Frank McHugh) after one to many run-ins with Louis Prentice (Broderick Crawford), the unscrupulous manager of the Continental Detective Agency, their former boss.

   Kildane quickly gets the upper hand, but Penelope is more than he counted on, and as he races across country with her, outwitting Prentice and dukeing it out with his men, the two unlikely love birds start to fall in love (to the recurring theme of “My Blue Heaven” sung and hummed by Cameron at first to annoy her and later by her to discomfort him, thanks to a canny Frank Skinner score).

   The film follows the usual pattern of the runaway heiress theme with some hard-boiled hi-jinks thrown in, and while only mildly screwball, it still falls into the genre. Cameron and Raines seem to relish the chance to play comedy and their scenes together have real snap, so that it is a shame neither of them got more chances to make these kinds of films.


   I don’t want to oversell this. It is not in the front rank of screwball comedy, but then it is better than many with better pedigrees (Love on the Run comes to mind). Cameron and Raines make an excellent team and the wisecracking script is both inventive and playful within both the screwball and private eye genres.

   On top of that, there is a final twist in the tail that allows for a more realistic happy ending than usual and gives it a touch of the mystery, although no crime is involved, save a few laws Cameron and Crawford break in their double crossing rivalry,

   The unusual cast makes the most of a chance to stretch and play outside their comfort zone. Raines is exceptionally attractive and appealing, Cameron charming and completely at ease, and Crawford ideally cast in the familiar role of a likable rat.

   If you have missed it, and have a taste for screwball, romantic comedy, and screen private eyes this one will both surprise and delight you. Everyone in the film may get the runaround, but not the audience.