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A young girl falls in with a gang of criminals. One of their capers is robbing the house of a wealthy socialite who happens to look just like her. In the process of cleaning out the house, the young girl discovers that the socialite is actually her long-lost twin sister. Complications ensue. Written by
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Please make an effort to view this early talkie drama even if you're not a Loretta Young fan. Here is a fluidly filmed thriller showing an overlooked director at the height of his great powers.
Before you glance back at the top of the page and go "William Beaudine? No way!", I know this is the guy whose name appeared in big, cursive letters before the Bowery Boys did their stuff. Yes, this IS the director of "Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla", "Green Hornet" TV shows, and finished his career with the unforgettable "Billy The Kid vs. Dracula". I couldn't believe it either, but after watching 1925's "Little Annie Rooney", I was so impressed that I checked his biography. Not only was the same man, his numbers were amazing. Beaudine directed over 250 feature films in 51 years, numerous TV shows (including 70 "Lassie" episodes), and at the time of his death was recognized as Hollywood's oldest active director. I then purchased and viewed Mary Pickford in "Sparrows". The performances he coaxed from these children was only surpassed by the splendid visuals he arranged. And on the strength of this, I chose to view "The Road To Paradise".
The film concerns itself with two crooks [one high-line, one common] who have raised an orphan girl. While discussing their next caper, she ARRIVES. A perfectly composed frame fills with a face both radiant and smiling as though she's surprised by a best friend. I've seen Loretta Young all my life, but NEVER have I seen her look so natural and personal. George Barraud and Jack Mulhall as her crook 'parents' comport agreeably and soon draw their ward, Mary (Young) into their latest scheme. While discussing the crime, Mary reveals one of her para-normal talents to be that of mind reading (made possible by her highly empathetic nature). I won't discuss the plot further, but should point out Loretta has a dual role which is handled flawlessly. Don't waste your time trying to catch a split screen or double because you won't. I still framed sequences and can assure you, the director has gotten away with it.
The film creates unrelenting tension throughout. Unlike other early talkies, "drawing room" scenes are broken into many different set-ups with the viewers' perspective constantly changing. These shifts are small and you never get lost in the room. Another plus is a very nice rooftop sequence with many different set-ups.
Mr. Beaudine filmed this as "Cornered", a 1920 silent. Write me if you know where I can see it.
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