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Slightly Dangerous

Slightly Dangerous(1943)

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teaser Slightly Dangerous (1943)

Soda fountain clerk Peggy Evans (Lana Turner) is bored and looking for some excitement in her life. So she quits her job and leaves her small town after a fight with her boss, Bob Stuart (Robert Young). The note Peggy leaves behind is taken for a suicide note and Young's character is blamed. Meanwhile, Peggy takes flight to the big city and convinces a tycoon she's his long lost daughter. Stuart eventually follows, hoping to prove Peggy's alive and clear his name.

Slightly Dangerous (1943) allowed frequent MGM love interest Lana Turner a chance at a lead role without the box office aid of a Clark Gable or Spencer Tracy. In fact, the script, which was acquired by MGM as an original screenplay, was built around Turner and tailored to her strengths. Her character initiated all the film's plot points. And her co-star (Robert Young) simply served as a romantic sidekick. It was a nice twist for Turner, who had won first billing in predominately female cast movies like Two Girls on Broadway (1940) but had rarely landed the top spot opposite a leading man.

For Turner and Young Slightly Dangerous was a return engagement. The actors had co-starred in Rich Man, Poor Girl five years earlier in 1938 with Young getting top billing. Turner had also worked previously with Wesley Ruggles, the director of Slightly Dangerous, on Somewhere I'll Find You (1942). Ruggles, who had worked in silents with Buster Keaton, was himself a former Keystone Kop. This comedic background is evident in Slightly Dangerous. The movie features several slapstick scenes, including one that involved Robert Young taking a fall over a concert hall balcony. But all the comedy may not be Ruggles' touch. Buster Keaton is said to have worked as an uncredited gag consultant on the film. Rounding out the cast in Slightly Dangerous are Walter Brennan (as Cornelius Burden, Peggy's rich "father), Dame May Whitty, Alan Mowbray and Ward Bond. There's also a nine-year old Robert Blake (credited as Boy on Porch).

For Turner personally, Slightly Dangerous was at the intersection of a whirlwind phase of her life - one that spun from bliss to chaos practically overnight. Turner married second husband Steve Crane a few months before filming Slightly Dangerous and discovered she was pregnant just before production began. She waited until Slightly Dangerous wrapped in December 1942 to tell the studio about her condition. And as Turner puts it in her autobiography, Lana: The Lady, the Legend, the Truth, "the publicity department went to work recasting me as a glamorous wartime mother-to-be." Unfortunately, the elation would be short-lived. Shortly thereafter, Crane discovered that he wasn't legally divorced from his first wife. The settlement required a year waiting period for remarriage; a few months remained so a pregnant Turner was forced to file for an annulment to avoid bigamy charges. And the studio was left with a PR nightmare on its hands. Turner and Crane did remarry a few months later on Valentine's Day 1943, when he was legally free to do so.

A few other interesting notes on Slightly Dangerous: working titles for the movie were Nothing Ventured and Careless Cinderella, and Turner appears as both a blonde and a brunette in the film. Also, the ad campaign for Slightly Dangerous had a life beyond pure promotional use. It featured Turner in a black sequined gown from one of her most provocative photo shoots. It was these alluring shots from Slightly Dangerous that many World War II G.I.s requested for personal pin-ups.

Producer: Pandro S. Berman
Director: Wesley Ruggles
Screenplay: Aileen Hamilton (story), Ian McLellan Hunter (story), Charles Lederer, George Oppenheimer
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Film Editing: Frank E. Hull
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: Bronislau Kaper, Eric Zeisl, Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cast: Lana Turner (Peggy Evans), Robert Young (Bob Stuart), Walter Brennan (Cornelius Burden), Dame May Whitty (Baba), Eugene Pallette (Durstin), Alan Mowbray (English Gentleman).

by Stephanie Thames

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