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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS (1943)

This light romantic-comedy, with ‘Screwball’ trimmings, isn’t half bad. The script obviously has NOTHING SACRED/’37 on its mind: Small-town gal makes a splash in Gotham under the impression she’s ill (amnesia in for fatal blood condition), only to find tru-love when she’s revealed as a fraud. Heck, they even toss in the famous bit where the kid bites the leading man; only here, Robert Young gets whacked on the toe by a kid with a hammer. But if the basic situation has been tamed and any satirical edge removed, Wesley Ruggles helms this M-G-M programmer with some of the relaxed comic style he picked up @ Paramount in the ‘30s. Instead of pointing at every joke, M-G-M style, or the karate chop delivery system favored by William Wellman for SACRED, Ruggles lets the dumb jokes drift off while the better stuff lands effectively. Nice. A young Lana Turner gives the va-va-voom stuff a welcome break as the social climbing fake, while Robert Young almost manages to hold to a reasonable manner. In support, Walter Brennan (in a tux!) and Dame May Whitty can’t do much with their roles as rich surrogate father & sweet/wise old nanny, but Eugene Palette brings some real Preston Sturges’ grit to his store owner terrified of lawsuits when Lana gets clobbered by one of his paint buckets. Keep your expectations down and enjoy. (BTW, the title is meaningless, but the Return-of-a-Lost-Child plot had real resonance in '43.)

DOUBLE-BILL: As you might expect, NOTHING SACRED. Decide which film has the weaker wrap-up.

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