Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wild Boys of The Road (1933)

Be it consciously or unconsciously, director William Wellman frequently puts tracking shots of maps to show his characters' journeys in his pre-Code Hollywood films. By some coincidence, these maps tend to highlight Pennsylvania, with Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Honesdale identified in big, bold print. He did it in 1933's Heroes for Sale, and he does it again in 1933's Wild Boys of the Road.

Wild Boys of the Road stars Frankie Darro, Edwin Phillips and Dorothy Coonan (who would marry director William Wellman after filming was completed) as everyday middle class teenagers hit with the realities of the Great Depression. As their parents lose their jobs, the teens no longer want to put financial burdens on their families. So they hop aboard a train and journey east to look for work. Along the way, they meet large groups of teens also facing the burdens of the Depression, and they set up makeshift communities at various stops, at the ire of local police and authority figures who run them off at every stop.

As the three make their way to New York and their dream of securing honest jobs, a map charts their journey---and, sure enough, there in big bold print on the screen, are the cities of Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and Honesdale.

Unfortunately the Lackawanna County Library System does not have Wild Boys of the Road on DVD; if you'd like to see it, feel free to make a purchase request for Forbidden Hollywood: Volume 3 (which includes 5 other pre-Code films directed by William Wellman, including 1933's Heroes for Sale, which also references Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Honesdale in a "map panning shot") by clicking here. However, the library does have the first volume of Forbidden Hollywood (featuring Jean Harlow in Red-Headed Woman, Mae Clarke in Waterloo Bridge, and Barbara Stanwyck in the shocking-even-by-today's-standards Baby Face); to place a hold, click here.

To purchase Forbidden Hollywood: Volume Three, click here.

On an interesting side note, William Wellman also directed 1945's Lady of Burlesque, which also features a reference to Wilkes-Barre.

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