Nell O'Day and Paul Page in The Road to Ruin (1934)


(directors: Mrs. Wallace Reid/Melville Shyer; screenwriter: Mrs. Wallace Reid; cinematographer: James Diamond; editor: S. Roy Luby; cast: Helen Foster (Ann Dixon), Nell O’Day (Eve Monroe), Glen Boles (Tommy), Bobby Quirk (Ed), Paul Page (Ralph Bennett), Virginia True Boardman (Mrs. Dixon), Richard Hemingway (Mr. Dixon), Mae Busch (Mrs. Monroe), Dorothy Davenport (Mrs. Merrill), Fern Emmett (nosy neighbor); Runtime: 62; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Willis Kent; Alpha Video Distributors; 1934)

“An early talkie rogue indie melodrama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An early talkie rogue indie melodrama, exploring the public’s appetite for taboo subject matter. In this case, drink, smoking, and teen promiscuity was used by the exploitation film to titillate its Depression-era audience. After delivering the goods and following the drive on the road to ruin of a nice school girl, it delivers its moral lesson against living a decadent life.

It’s co-directed by Mrs. Wallace Reid (Dorothy Davenport) and Melville Shyer, and is written by Mrs. Wallace Reid.

Warning: spoilers throughout.

In the home of fast teenager coed Eve Monroe (Nell O’Day), she makes out with teen boyfriend Ed (Bobby Quirk) while roadster driving teen Tommy (Glen Boles) drinks her parents’ booze. Soon innocent teen Ann Dixon (Helen Foster) is recruited to join the trio as Tommy’s gal.

Tommy mentors Ann in drinking and smoking, and while visiting the lake seduces Ann in the secluded woods. Though crying over her loss of virginity, Ann continues to see Tommy.

One night Ann is drinking at a lodge and meets older playboy Ralph Bennett (Paul Page), who takes her away from the drunken Tommy. Ann begins to date Ralph and spends evenings alone with him. She at a later date joins Ralph, Eve and Ed at a friend’s party, where there’s a strip crap game and a semi-nude dip in the host’s swimming pool. The neighbors call the police and they take Ann and Eve to the station’s juvenile division. A medical examination reveals that Eve has contracted venereal disease and is held for treatment.

Soon after Ann discovers that she is pregnant and, at Ralph’s urging, has an illegal abortion. Ralph then enlists Ann to “entertain” a client of his company. She then has ill-effects from the crudely performed abortion and dies at home in bed asking her grief-stricken parents for forgiveness.