Surprise Looking Backward: A Slight Case of Murder (1938)

11 Jun

slightcaseI am still of the unshakeable opinion that there are too few movies based on the work of Damon Runyon. I see on a list that there are twenty. That is not half enough. But A Slight Case of Murder is a heck of a one. Like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but in a legal instead of a racial context.

These little flicks are not just for fun, you know. They provide an education. Here is an example:

Mrs. Marco (Ruth Donnelly) upbraids her husband’s employees when they do not talk genteel-like. One of them keeps saying “O.K.” Which is still, along with words like “job” and “kidding,”  low-end slang circa 1938.

Which is why it still grinds my gears when people (especially of the high-end sort) say “O.K.” in more recent period scripts and novels. The thing is called “research,” writer-types. Do some.

I know, I know; no one else is bothered by this. But as I say, it still grinds my gears.

PS – I was reassured to find that Margaret Hamilton’s character name is spelled “Cagle.” I am not equipped to think of her as “Mrs. Kegel.”

edward-brophy-02A Sonnet for Edward Brophy


Your squeaky voice spoke fluent Comic Foils

For gangsters’ pals, wisecracking bubble-bursters –

In Cover Girl your line “I don’t think poils

[spoken by Joe the barkeep] come from ersters,”

Still looms large in my brain’s repository

Of great words said by history’s great men,

And incomplete for me is any story

Without your shining pate and double chin.

Slugs, Lefty, Torso, Rollo, Joe Morelli

(Leave us neglect not  Timothy Q. Mouse)

Were made well-rounded roles by your round belly.

He who agrees not is a dirty louse.

Thank goodness Buster dragged you out of props

That you could give us years of yeggs and cops.

I thank you.

6 Responses to “Surprise Looking Backward: A Slight Case of Murder (1938)”

  1. Movies, Silently June 12, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    I love this movie. And we all need more Damon Runyon in our lives! Thanks for the post!

    • baldmanwithacowlick June 12, 2013 at 3:14 am #

      Thanks! A pleasure – I’m about to try & coerce some folks I’ve been reading aloud with to undertake some Runyon…which is almost impossible NOT to read aloud.


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