Archive for August 19th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(USA 1933 68m) DVD1

RIP Leapin’ Lena

p  Robert Presnell  d  William W.Wellman  w  Earl Baldwin  ph  Arthur Todd  ed  Thomas Pratt  md  Leo F.Forbstein  art  Esdras Hartley

Frankie Darro (Eddie Smith), Edwin Philips (Tommy), Dorothy Coonan (Sally), Rochelle Hudson (Grace), Arthur Hohl (Dr Heckel), Claire McDowell (Mrs Smith), Charley Grapewin (Mr Cadmust), Grant Mitchell (Mr Smith), Sterling Holloway (Ollie), Robert Barrat (Judge White), Minna Gombell (Aunt Carrie), Ward Bond (Red the brakeman),

Another of those priceless pre-code pieces from William Wellman worth a dozen of the so-called prestige pictures of the time, Wild Boys of the Road was, like so many films made by Wellman at Warners in the early thirties (see also Night Nurse, Safe in Hell, Heroes for Sale), not only hard-hitting and possessing the social conscience the studio was famous for, but literally opened many people’s eyes to the realities of the depression.  True, 75 years on it does seem a little dated, and yet it still remains a powerful piece all the same. 

            Eddie Smith is a typical teenage boy and proud owner of a knocked out jalopy whose somewhat cosy life comes crashing down when he realises he won’t be able to finish school.  The night he intends to ask his father to help his friend Tommy to find work, he finds out his dad’s been laid off himself and, rather than be a burden to his parents, he leaves with Tommy on a freight train to Chicago to try and find work.  On board they hook up with a young girl called Sally, dressed as a boy and on the way to her aunt’s to find a new home.  However, once they get there, the aunt is arrested for running a house of ill-repute and they are forced to run for it, beginning a life on the road that will ultimately involve them in murder, rape, and a trial in New York.  (more…)

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