‘Slightly dangerous’ and snappy

I’m sure an archives librarian would have been helpful in this scenario

The 1943 comedy, Slightly Dangerous, stars Lana Turner as Peggy Evans, a small-town “soda squirt” who leaves town to find adventure, leaving behind a note that makes it seem like she has committed suicide (!). Her former boss (Robert Young) finds her posing as an heiress in New York. The title hints at something risqué, but it’s more in the screwball comedy vein. I know, it’s a strange thing to write that this film is a comedy that starts off with a fake suicide, but there it is.

Searching for a new name (she’s an orphan with no family), Peggy tries out different names on store signs and billboards. After she spots a billboard for the New York Star‘s classified advertising department, she visits the newspaper and accidentally gets knocked out cold. Circumstances lead her to feign amnesia, and to search newspaper archives for articles about missing heiresses.

There’s no official librarian in this Class V film, but about a half-hour in, there is a short, minute-long scene set in the New York Public Library newspaper archives.

New York Public Library sign in Slightly Dangeorus
New York Public Library sign in Slightly Dangeorus

After an establishing close-up of the “New York Public Library” sign, the camera then cuts to a shot of Peggy walking down aisles of bound volumes, in a library setting that feels very Art Deco. Although no librarian in sight, a library ladder does get featured! 🙂 Atop the conveniently placed library ladder, Peggy counts the bound volumes of newspaper archives and hauls one down.

New York Star newspaper archives
New York Star newspaper archives

A brief montage of dates and headlines flashes by, punctuated by Peggy’s facial expressions of frustration. I’m sure an archives librarian would have been helpful in this scenario, just saying… 😉 Peggy eventually lands upon her missing heiress, Carol Burden, and gathers the clues of “Baba” (the nickname of the child’s nanny) and “circus” (where Carol disappeared).

Peggy/Carol then begins the charade back at the New York Star headquarters, and the news editors waste no time with the “Baba” clue. They call down to Hillyer in the newspaper archives, pictured below, for anything on “Baba.”

Newspaper clerk in Slightly Dangerous
Newspaper clerk in Slightly Dangerous
Newspaper clerk in Slightly Dangerous
Make it snappy!

Hillyer (Harry Tyler, in an uncredited role), and his assistant Andy (another uncredited role), look up “Baba” in the newspaper archives — and they sure do make it snappy! In the movie timeline, it takes them about 10 seconds to locate 3 news clippings related to that particular keyword.

Although they’re not quite fast enough to supplant this guy as the fastest librarian in the West, that’s still amazingly quick. 10 seconds! Like I said,  no official librarians in this movie, but these two newspaper men fulfill a lot of the same cinematic role and purpose as an Information Provider.

Snaps to you, uncredited newspaper men!

Sources used:

  • Slightly Dangerous. Dir. Wesley Ruggles. Perf. Lana Turner, Robert Young, Walter Brennan, Dame May Whitty. MGM, 1943.

Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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