Slightly Honorable

95. SLIGHTLY HONORABLE (1940-usa). With pat oÕbrien, edward Arnold, broderick CRAWFORD, RUTH terry, eve arden, douglas dumbrule, ernest truex, evelyn keyes, Produced and directed by tay garnett. A walter wanger presentation. This film is an expert blending Of comedy, mystery and social melodrama. It starts out as a Capraesque crusade against corruption, with lawyer Pal O’Brien and his tough-g partner Broderick Crawford battling the head Of the state’s political machine {Edward Arnold-who else?). Actually, this lawyer’s no white knight Mr. Deeds: he’s much more interested in his clients’ fat retainers than in clean government. Being compared with all the liars, grafters, racketeers and killers around him, he’s at least “slightly honorable.” The movie shifts gears into light screwball comedy as O’Brien becomes involved with a daffy young woman who sounds a little Shirley Temple but who has a habit Of removing her dress every now and then. When O’Brien’s former girlfriend and Arnold’s mistress-is murdered, the film turns into a dandy whodunit, with practically everyone having a good motive O’Brien becomes the police’s prime suspect, and he sets out to untangle the mystery-which is complicated by yet another murder, and by a strange knife that keeps appearing and vanishing. Through clever scriptwriting and Tay Garnett’s deft direction, all Of this works, and you’ll find yourself simultaneously laughing and sitting on the edge Of your seat in suspense. Take a look at the cast credits. It’s a virtual “Who’s Who” Of Hollywood’s great character actors. The kind we just don’t have around anymore. Recommended. 85 minutes. Comedy-Mystery