Half a Sinner


A prim school teacher (Heather Angel) has a secret desire to kick up her heels and leave her small town behind her. She does the next best thing - buys some silk stockings, a new hat and goes on a spree for the day. She gets some unwanted attention from a hood, "Handsome" (Henry Brandon), and in her haste to escape, pushes him over and steals his car. Unbeknownst to her, there is a dead body in the back. She picks up a hitch-hiker (John King), whose car has broken down, and a romance begins.

Half a Sinner is a 1940 American film directed by Al Christie. It stars Heather Angel (actress) as a schoolteacher who in one day becomes Public enemy in Pennsylvania. The film is based on Dalton Trumbo's short story "Lady Takes a Chance". The working titles of this film were Everything Happens to Ann and The Lady Takes a Chance.

Plot summary

On the last day of school for the year, 25 year old schoolteacher Miss Anne Gladden has one of her students writing Lines (punishment) reading I WILL TRY TO BE GOOD on the blackboard. After the class is dismissed, she releases the boy from his punishment where she tells him that not everyone can do what they want to do in their life so they might as well make the best of what they have. She is overheard by an older teacher who remarks to Miss Gladden that she pers the troublemaking students as they are the ones who can think for themselves. Anne is surprised at what she says with the older teacher replying that she has just turned 40 that day and has had regrets about not doing wild things when she was young. She advises Anne to do what she never did as one day she too will be old before she expects to be.
Returning to her home Anne decides to have one day of excitement in her life. She spends her savings on an expensive dress and hosiery and releases her pet canary Delilah in the open air for a taste of freedom. Sitting in a public park she is bothered by rude man who propositions her. When Anne sees he is carrying a concealed revolver she knocks him down and drives off with his car. The man she has pushed down is a gangster, the car she has driven off with is one that he stole, and on the floor of the back seat is the body of a man that he just murdered. The dead man is covered by the overcoat of the murderer's employer; a powerful crime boss. Unaware of her back seat passenger and that she is being pursued by the police and murderous criminals, Ann picks up a handsome hitchhiker...


  • Heather Angel (actress) as Anne Gladden
  • John "Dusty" King as Larry Cameron
  • Constance Collier as Mrs. Jefferson Breckenridge
  • Walter Catlett as Turnpike Gas Station Attendant
  • Tom Dugan as Red Egan
  • Robert Elliott (actor) as Officer Kelly
  • Clem Bevans as Snuffy
  • Emma Dunn as Granny Gladden
  • Henry Brandon (actor) as Handsome, Red's Sidekick
  • William B. Davidson as Slick Kopesco
  • Fern Emmett as Margaret Reed
  • Sonny Bupp as Willy
  • Wilbur Mack as Chauffeur Mason
  • Joe Devlin (actor) as Steve, Kopesco Goon


The film is Dalton Trumbo's second screen credit and the last of Jack Skirball's Arcadia Pictures. Skirball, an ordained Rabbi later produced Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt.
Heather Angel had played Phyllis Clavering opposite John Howard (American actor) in five Bulldog Drummond films. A Universal contract star, John King had played Ace Drummond in a Ace Drummond (serial). This film was the last on his Universal Pictures contract that led him to finish his motion picture career playing a singing cowboy in Mongram's Range Busters B Western series.


Category:1940 films
Category:American films
Category:1940s comedy films
Category:American mystery films
Category:1940s adventure films
Category:English-language films
Category:Black-and-white films
Category:Universal Pictures films
Category:Films based on short fiction
Al Christie, Jack H. Skirball

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