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The Roaring Road (1919)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Sport | 27 April 1919 (USA)
A young man pursues a young lady with the same energy he applies to his other obsession in life, auto racing.


James Cruze


Byron Morgan (story), Marion Fairfax (scenario)


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Cast overview:
Wallace Reid ... Walter Thomas 'Toodles' Walden
Ann Little ... Dorothy Ward, the Cub
Theodore Roberts ... J.D. Ward, the Bear
Guy Oliver ... Tom Darby
Clarence Geldart ... Fred Wheeler


A young man pursues a young lady with the same energy he applies to his other obsession in life, auto racing.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Speed, Thrills, Love, Laughs, Action 'n Everything! (original poster) See more »


Comedy | Drama | Sport








Release Date:

27 April 1919 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Batiendo el récord See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Featured in The House That Shadows Built (1931) See more »

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User Reviews

David Jeffers - Wally Reid and the Birth of the Road Racing Film
28 March 2006 | by rdjeffersSee all my reviews

Before Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Tom Cruise there was Wallace Reid, and an all but forgotten genre of road racing films from the dawn of motion pictures. Reid was arguably the original matinée idol. The dashing young action hero with chiseled good looks and a glint in his eye, Wally was the all-American boy. He rocketed to fame after being given the minor role of a blacksmith in D. W. Griffith's "The Birth of A Nation". In a series of increasingly popular roles Reid became a household name alongside the likes of Mary Pickford and Rudolph Valentino. So why does Wallace Reid remain so obscure even among film buffs today? While filming "The Valley of The Giants" in 1919, Reid badly injured his back in an accident and rather than shut down production at considerable cost the studio decided to administer pain killing narcotics, under a doctors care. This was to ensure their star could continue working. Reid eventually became addicted, but as long as he was able to perform the studio looked the other way. Only in 1923 when Reid died did the Hollywood establishment decide to vilify him as an addict. On the heels of the Fatty Arbuckle and William Desmond Taylor scandals the name of Wallace Reid became something of a pariah uttered only in whispers and was soon forgotten altogether. Treatment of addiction was a relatively unknown concept in the twenties so by the time Reid was hooked his fate was sealed. The loving, husband, father and popular actor was allowed to slip off into oblivion. Many of Reid's films are lost, as is far too often the case with silent era stars. There are however, several fine examples that survive. "The Roaring Road" may be the best example of the road-racing genre.

The four hundred-mile Santa Monica road race, known as "The Grand Prize" has never been won three times by any one make of car. President of Darco Motors, J. D. "The Bear" Ward (Theodore Roberts), longs for a third win with his "Darco Ninety". His best salesman, Walter Thomas "Toodles" Walden (Reid) wants to drive in the big race but the Bear won't have an amateur "mussing things up". Introductory shots of these two actors are wonderfully evocative. Roberts morphs from an enormous bear into a man, while Reid is first seen behind the wheel of an open car sitting at a crossroads. Toodles spends his time playing cat and mouse with the local motorcycle cops and sparking with the Bear's motherless Cub, Dorothy Ward (Ann Little). When his sales manager gives notice the Bear decides to give the job to Toodles, but only after testing him. When the test backfires Toodles quits. The three cars arriving for the big race are destroyed in a train wreck and in a twist Toodles buys the junk pile to produce the "Three-In-One" and win the big race to the consternation and then jubilation of the Bear. After the race Toodles proclaims, "This was just a bluff! What I really want is Dorothy!" Animosities between the two continue when the Bear insists the Cub must wait five years to marry and Toodles swears off racing. By now, the Bear has set his sights on the next great prize, winning the speed distance record from Los Angeles to San Francisco. With the help of his mechanic the Bear tricks Toodles into the race, taking the Cub to San Francisco on the evening train with the plan, or so Toodles thinks, of leaving for the east for a year. The climax of the film comes when Toodles overtakes them on a parallel road as the car crosses in front of the train with only inches to spare on its way to breaking the record. Their faces peppered by the engine oil from the open car, Toodles and his mechanic bomb their way to a record finish. He visits a barbershop to freshen up before the train arrives, and then confronts the Bear. The plot is revealed. Toodles gets the girl and everyone gets a happy ending. Directed by one of Paramount's best, James Cruze (The Covered Wagon, Old Ironsides), early in his career, "The Roaring Road" is the archetypal road race film and one of most entertaining from a wonderful and nearly forgotten silent star Wallace Reid.

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