Half A Sinner (April 5, 1940)
Released on April 5, 1940: It is spring break, and shy schoolteacher Anne decides to dress sexy and go into the big city to find adventure.
Directed by Al Christie
Written by Frederick J. Jackson and Dalton Trumbo.
The Actors: Heather Angel (Anne Gladden), John 'Dusty' King (Larry Cameron), Constance Collier (Mrs. Jefferson Breckenridge), Walter Catlett (turnpike gas station attendant), Tom Dugan (Red Egan), Robert Elliott (Officer Kelly), Clem Bevans (Snuffy), Emma Dunn (Granny Gladden), Henry Brandon (Handsome, Red's sidekick), William B. Davidson (Slick Kopesco), Fern Emmett (Margaret Reed), Sonny Bupp (Willy), Wilbur Mack (Chauffeur Mason), Joe Devlin (Steve, a Kopesco goon), Richard Cramer (Mugg), Eddie Hall (man in Country Club dining room), Fred Kohler Jr. (garage owner), Antonia Oland (Sally), Jason Robards Sr. (country club garage man).
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Do you know a lady that is prim and proper and never had a really exciting day in her life? Are you such a gal? If so, this is a movie that can break you free for an hour, and enjoy the 'wild life.' Pop a big bowl of popcorn, grab a soda and enjoy an hour of gangsters, police chases, excitement, dead bodies, and love on the run.
Anne Gladden is a young school teacher that has never had an exciting day in her life. While talking with an older teacher after class, she decides that it is time for her to step out and have some fun. She lives with her grandmother who moved in with her after her grandfather died. Telling granny that she wanted to break free for a day and find some excitement in the city, her granny disapprovingly warns her against it. But Anne is determined. She goes to the store and buys some modern clothes (well, for 1940 they were modern clothes) and decides to hit the big city and see what fun she can find. While sitting on a park bench reading a paper, a gangster sits next to her and puts the moves on her. She tries talking her way out of his attention to her, but he will have nothing of it. He is determined to flirt with her until she gives in. In desperation, she gets up and walks to the street, where his 1940 limousine is sitting, and jumps into it and drives off.
As she is going out of the city, she sees a man at the side of the road with his car that is waving her down, and she stops to see if she can help. The handsome young man claims that his car is broken down, and would she give him a lift to a garage? When he gets in the limo, he spots the name of the limo owner on the dash, and smiles knowingly. As he is sitting on the seat next to her, he puts his arm over the seat, and accidentally feels the hand of a man in the back seat. When he looks back to see who it is, he discovers that there is a dead man laying in the back. She is shocked, but does not tell him the truth about how she got the car, and he believes that she is part of the gang that killed the man. He is not deterred though, and seems to be quite taken with Anne, and helps her avoid the police. It turns out that the limo was stolen by the gangsters, who killed one of their enemies, and before they could ditch the body, she took the car. So now the police are after them because it is a stolen car, and the gangsters are after them to recover and dispose of the body, and they stay on the run trying to avoid both.
When they stop at a gas station for gas, well, they don't actually stop there, they coast there. You see, the police have shot a hole in the gas tank, and although they escaped the copper, they quickly ran out of gas and needed to push the limo to the station. The attendant spots the bullet hole, and the license plate, and tries to call the cops, but the man ties him up so he can't call the cops. When the man goes back outside, another limo has pulled up, and an old lady full of spunk is in the back seat. The young man lures the chauffeur into walking up the road to find the station attendant, and he tells Anne to take the old gal into the station and make her some tea to keep her busy, and then swaps license plates with the old gal. So the police now chase the old gal instead of them, and things get really messy.
There are more twists and turns to this romantic comedy, but I'll leave them for you to discover and enjoy on your own. Just know that the wonderful ending is a scene with Anne and her man walking into Anne's apartment, and greeting her grandmother with a hearty, "Granny, Granny I'm home. Come and see the man I've brought back with me!"