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Wild Boys of the Road (1933)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama  |  7 October 1933 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,211 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 19 critic

In the depths of the Depression, two teenage boys strike out on their own in order to help their struggling parents and find life on the road tougher than expected.

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(screenplay), (story) (as Daniel Ahearn)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Edwin Phillips ...
Tommy
Rochelle Hudson ...
Grace
Dorothy Coonan Wellman ...
Sally (as Dorothy Coonan)
...
Ollie
Arthur Hohl ...
Dr. Heckel
Ann Hovey ...
Lola
Minna Gombell ...
Aunt Carrie
...
Mr. James Smith
...
Mrs. Smith
Robert Barrat ...
Judge R.H. White
Willard Robertson ...
Captain of Detectives
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Himself (archive footage)
Guy Kibbee ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

At the bottom of the depression, Tom's mother has been out of work for months when Ed's father loses his job. Not to burden their parents, the two high school sophomore's decide to hop the freights and look for work. Wherever they go, there are many other kids just like them, so Tom, Ed and now Sally stick together. They camp in places like 'Sewer City' as long as they can until the local authorities run them off. They travel all over the mid west and when they get to New York, Ed thinks that they may finally find work. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Girls living like boys! Boys living like savages!

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Approved

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 October 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Az utca vad kölykei  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in December 2013. See more »

Goofs

There are no mountains in Columbus, Ohio. See more »

Quotes

Edward 'Eddie' Smith: Go ahead! Put me in a cell. Lock me up! I'm sick of being hungry and cold. Sick of freight trains. Jail can't be any worse than the street. So give it to me!
See more »

Connections

Features Footlight Parade (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Forty-Second Street
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on harmonica when Tommy and Sally are panhandling in New York
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Kids Also Suffer
19 September 2007 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Mention the Great Depression and most folks draw a blank or nod off. After all, who wants to be reminded of soup kitchens, dour old men, and dust bowls. Seventy years later and it's a closed book, forgotten and unlamented. Now and again, however, that dusty book needs re-opening. Because, in spite of the best efforts of the best of us, the past is not alway past. This edgy little Warner Bros. production provides a brief picture of the youth of that day, a harrowing story of survival amidst economic collapse.

The movie wouldn't work so well without the contrast the first half-hour provides. Darro and friends are typical middle-class teens, fun-loving and care-free. It's a world of proms, necking parties, and harmless pranks. Then without warning things change. Why they change is never really explained which is the way it should be. For most kids knew nothing of stock markets and dis-investment. They only knew that suddenly Dad doesn't go to work anymore and mom cries a lot, bills pile up, and no one gets a job, anywhere. Middle-class privilege plunges into no-income poverty, and Darro and his buddy do like millions of others. They hop a freight, hoping the next town, the next state, the next someplace, will give them a chance to make a living. What they get instead are private armies, battalions of cops, and a forest of billy clubs. They're driven on to the next jurisdiction and the next welcoming committee. Nobody wants the footloose unemployed adding to their own local problems. Maybe the attitude's not charitable, but it makes practical sense.

The battles atop freight cars and in hobo jungles are expertly filmed and dynamically staged, a stark panorama of social desperation. These scenes make up the movie's centerpiece. If anything they're mildly presented compared to the actual blood-letting that surrounded the desperate and up-rooted. Union organizing was especially bloody and bitterly fought-- an explosive topic Hollywood has only timidly touched on over the years. Nonetheless, the nail-biting episode on the train track stands-in for at least some of the actual pain and suffering caused by those crisis years.

Darro may be small, but he's energetic, something of a younger Cagney. His determined spirit to keep going no matter what is convincing, and helps drive the others on. I expect it also had that effect on audiences of the day. I like the way director Wellman suggests the kids can set up their own constructive community, if given half-a-chance. Some reviewers complain about the final scene with the understanding judge. Yes, it is pretty contrived, but it wasn't unrealistic given the package of New Deal reforms then in the works. If those measures didn't exactly solve the economic crisis (only WWII did that), they at least offered hope that the problems would no longer be kicked down the road to the next jurisdiction.

Wild Boys may not be the most honest or best movie on those tumultuous years. Still, it does furnish a provocative and entertaining glimpse. In any event, some books should not remain closed. After all, who knows when the unfortunate history of that era may again repeat itself.


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