Slightly Dangerous (1943)

Peggy Evans (Lana Turner) lives a dull life in Hotchkiss Falls, New York — one of the dullest towns in America. She works at a soda counter, where one day she bets her co-worker Mitzi (Pamela Blake) that she can serve the customers while wearing a blindfold — a testament to the monotony of her life.

When store manager Bob (Robert Young) catches Peggy doing her job blindfolded, he’s angry, and an argument ensues between the two. Returning to her boarding house, Peggy decides to do something drastic — leave town, and leave a note on the table, though giving no hint as to where she has gone.

(Image via Movie Poster Shop)
(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

The folks of Hotchkiss Falls interpret the note as a suicide letter and lift their pitchforks at Bob, who they believe is responsible for the ordeal. Meanwhile, Peggy is actually alive and has made her way to New York City, where she hopes to begin an exciting, brand new life.

Slightly Dangerous was directed by Wesley Ruggles, written for the screen by Charles Lederer and George Oppenheimer. According to TCM’s introduction for the film (airing as one of “Bob’s Picks” last month), this was Lana Turner’s first “A”-budget movie, and the first for which she received top billing.

Slightly Dangerous is a misleading title for this film. There’s nothing dangerous about it. The plot boils down to two threads: a case of mistaken identity when Peggy reaches New York, and Bob’s comic journey to find Peggy when all of Hotchkiss Falls assumes she’s dead. The mood is light throughout the film, and there are a lot of laughs that come with all of the complications that arise for both Peggy and Bob.

Lana Turner gives a great performance here. Peggy is spunky, outspoken, and determined to change her own life for the better. Her disdain for her small-town life in Hotchkiss Falls seems a little over-dramatic — she at least has a job and a place to live, after all — but you can’t blame a girl for wanting more out of life than countless hours spent serving sundaes and soda to shoppers.

Lana is very believable in the role, and the charm she delivers in her early scenes despite her character’s less-than-optimistic outlook on life endears the viewer to her from the start. Peggy’s methods for achieving a new life become a little far-fetched and leave her in over her head, but she readily acknowledges her mistakes, and the viewer continues to wish the best for her.

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Robert Young was also a good choice for his role, store manager Bob, desperate to clear his name after Peggy disappears from Hotchkiss Falls. He does well in the role but doesn’t take any shine away from his leading lady, who was getting her first break as a top-billed star. Young is always good at playing the mishap-prone, guilty-conscience fella, so his performance here seems quite effortless.

The title of Slightly Dangerous and its premise involving a potential suicide may make it seem like a somewhat dark film, but fear not, fellow rom-com fans! It’s a sweet watch, led very capably by Lana Turner. The score: 4/5

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