EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD (director: William Wellman; screenwriters: story by Daniel Ahern/Earl Baldwin; cinematographer: Arthur L. Todd; editor: Thomas Pratt; music: Bernhard Kaun; cast: Frankie Darro (Edward "Eddie" Smith), Edwin Phillips (Tommy Gordon), Rochelle Hudson (Grace), Shirley Dunstead (Harriet), Dorothy Coonan (Sally), Sterling Holloway (Ollie), Arthur Howl (Dr. Henry A. Heckel), Minna Gombell (Aunt Carrie), Grant Mitchell (Mr. James Smith), Claire McDowell (Mrs. Smith), Robert Barrat (Judge White); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Presnell Sr.; Warner Bros.; 1933)|
the energy of this heartfelt Depression-era social-conscious road
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Loved the energy of this heartfelt Depression-era social-conscious road film.
dated, this William Wellman ("Roxie Hart"/"Night
film acts as a vivid time capsule
capturing the fever pitch of the time that had
thousands of homeless
children bumming rides on freight trains, joining a
growing army of
young hobos, and
hobo camps. It's
a film that
mixes realism with social drama, never avoiding the
harsh realities of
life for its moviegoers but leaving them with an
that President Franklin D.
Roosevelt's New Deal will bring relief. The film did a poor
box office, as
many critics thought the rosy ending was not
believable and the
hard-pressed public preferred escapism for their
based on a story by Daniel Ahern, and is
written by Earl
Two middle-class high
students from a small-town in the Midwest, Eddie Smith
(Frankie Darro) and Tommy Gordon (Edwin Phillips), decide to drop-out of
school and hit the
road to get work because their parents are unemployed.
Eddie's dad (Grant
laid-off on his job at the cement
factory, while Tommy's widowed mom can't find work.
The boys ride east
on a freight train where they hook up with a gritty
female waif named
is dressed as a boy in self-defense.
She's going to see her aunt (Minna Gombell)
in Chicago, as she
comes from a large
family and wishes to give mom one less mouth to feed.
In Chicago, her
aunt is arrested for running a bordello and the trio
flee the city to
ride the trains again.
Chased off the trains by railroad dicks, the young army of hobos band together to fight them off. In one incident, Sally is raped by a vile train worker. After chased off the train in Ohio, Tommy loses his leg as an oncoming train runs over him. The trio stick together and form a "sewer pipe city" near Cleveland, but are eventually chased from there by the city police. They end up living in a NYC dump yard. But things even get worse when Eddie is arrested, as two con men ask him to deliver a note to a movie theater cashier and they'll give him $5. The note contains a demand for money, and the cashier screams for the police. The trio are arrested and appear before a sympathetic judge (Robert Barrat), but refuse to give them their parents' addresses. Nevertheless the judge has the court find them temporary jobs and dismisses the charges against them. He only asks them to promise the court to soon rejoin their families.
Coonan was working as a dancer in the Busby Berkeley musical Gold Diggers of 1933, when spotted on the studio back-lot and hired by Wellman. During the shoot he became smitten with Dorothy and soon after she became Wellman's fourth and final wife.
REVIEWED ON 6/16/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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