Based on a story by Dalton "Johnny Got His Gun" Trumbo, Half a Sinner (1940) should've been better than it is. It stars Heather Angel as Anne Gladden, a young school marm who suddenly realizes she's a great beauty if she takes her glasses off.
She decides that rather than go quietly into spinsterhood as have other old maid teachers, she will take a vacation from her plain-jane life & attitude. She blows a lot of money on a gussy outfit & make-over & sets out to be bold & daring in the world, if only for one day, so that she need have no regrets later in life for never having adventured.
The first effect of her glamor-girl day is that a masher in the park won't leave her alone, & gets quite threatening. She sees his limousine has its keys in it, so she steals it, finding her own daring exciting indeed, with no thought that grand theft auto might not be the best choice of personal amusement.
In the stolen limousine she picks up a handsome chap whose car has broken down on the side of the road. He's a romantic lead type so presumedly not going to be as instantly dangerous as the masher had been. He notices what she has failed to observe, that there is a corpse under a coat in the back seat.
Soon they realize she's being pursued by the mob, who had already stolen the car she stole to use it to get rid of a body. The guy she picked up, Larry (John King), is the real owner of the car she's driving, though she doesn't know that the whole story hinges on impossible coincidences. He's eager to help her out of a jam.
The story goes on & on very lightheartedly. The dead guy's story is left untold since his being dead doesn't very well support the film's overall whimsicality.
No character acts rationally. The humor largely fails. And a murder treated as comedy isn't exactly gripping. A happy ending is trumped up without regard for the dead guy's family or anyone but our leading lady & leading man falling in love. This foolishness is blessedly over with in less than an hour, by which time we know that the guy she picked up on the side of the road is a millionaire who'll inevitably marry her.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl