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The Pace That Kills (1935)

PG | | Crime, Drama | December 1935 (USA)
Drug dealer on the run from the law meets an innocent young girl and her brother, and turns them into "cocaine fiends."


William A. O'Connor (as Wm. A. O'Connor)




Complete credited cast:
Lois January ... Jane Bradford aka Lil
Noel Madison ... Nick - The Pusher
Sheila Bromley ... Fanny (as Sheila Manners)
Dean Benton Dean Benton ... Eddie Bradford
Lois Lindsay ... Dorothy Farley
Charles Delaney ... Dan - the Detective - Dorothy's Boyfriend (as Chas. Delaney)
Eddie Phillips ... Manager of Dead Rat Club
Frank Shannon ... Mr. Farley
Fay Holden ... Madame / Henchwoman (as Gaby Fay)
Maury Peck Maury Peck ... Master of Ceremonies
Nona Lee Nona Lee ... Band Vocalist
Gay Sheridan Gay Sheridan ... Dorothy's Friend
Frank Collins Frank Collins ... Singing Waiter


Small town girl Jane Bradford falls for Nick, a guy from the big city who offers her the opportunity to get away from her small town life. He also offers her "headache powder", she not knowing that it's cocaine and that Nick is a drug pusher. By the time they get to the city, she's hooked on her new medicine. Jane's brother, Eddie, goes to the city to look for his sister, who has not kept in touch with her family. Eddie gets a job as a carhop at a drive-in and is befriended by a drive-in's waitress named Fanny. Fanny is one of Nick's customers, and Fanny soon gets Eddie hooked on the headache powder. Due to this vice, Eddie and Fanny's life soon goes downhill. They're both fired from their jobs and are unable to find other work in their drugged out state. On the periphery of both Eddie and Jane's life is Dorothy Farley, a customer at the drive-in. Dorothy, dating Dan, comes from a wealthy family and she throws her money around easily. She's willing to assist financially those in need.... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Protect Your Children from the Creeping Menace! (print ad - Lubbock Evening Journal - Texan Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - Feb. 16, 1938) See more »


Crime | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


When Fanny and Eddie go to the club, Fanny points out "Shirley Claire, the famous actress" and the shot is followed by two stock footage inserts from another film, showing a young man talking to a pretty young woman while seated at a table. This footage is actually from the original The Pace That Kills (1928), and the actress shown was the one who played the original Fanny. So essentially, in this scene, Fanny points to herself. See more »


Even though the original title was "The Cocaine Fiends" , and cocaine is the main plot point, no one is ever actually shown doing the drug on screen (every time someone goes for a line, the film cuts to a shot of the dealer watching with glee that he has a new customer/victim). See more »


Fanny: Tonight I'm gonna take you on a sleigh ride with some snow birds.
Eddie: Sleigh ride? Snow birds? In summer?
Fanny: Gee, you ARE dumb!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening statement: Among the many evils against which society struggles, one of the most vicious is the traffic in dope . . in every community where the menace developes all the forces which society can mobilize, including social agencies, doctors, law enforcement officials and government band together to stamp it out . . . . . . Without such activity the dope evil would run rampant. Yet it has long been recognized that one other powerful force is necessary before the struggle can be completely successful. That force is an aroused and educated public awareness. It is in the hope of aiding in developing such awareness that this picture has been produced. What happens to Jane Bradford may happen to anyone. There will always be "Jane Bradfords" until you, Mr. Citizen, co-operate with the forces now fighting the dope evil to forever stamp it out in our land. --The Management. See more »


Edited into Confessions of a Vice Baron (1943) See more »


Towsee Mongalay
(1915) (uncredited)
Words and Music by Grahame Jones
Performed by Frank Collins
See more »

User Reviews

This is much better than other drug addiction tales of its time...
21 July 2016 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

... and I think people are too quick to look at a camp classic like "Reefer Madness" that shows people smoking one joint and becoming, simultaneously, great piano players, sex fiends, and trigger happy, all while maniacally laughing and think that this film is like that one. You'd be wrong.

Alternatively titled "Cocaine Fiends", this is pretty realistic in showing the effects of cocaine on people and how the addiction is slow and subtle, creeping up on you until you are hooked. The bad guy is Nick, who, on the run from the police, ends up in a diner and gives the girl running it some "headache powders" for her headaches. He woos her with promises of marriage, and gets her to come to the big city with him. Today this all looks pretty obvious, but pre WWII, most people lived in rural environments and trusted one another. Needless to say, the girl gets none of her promises kept once she gets to the city, and is so addicted to cocaine she simply just can't leave.

In the meantime her brother is looking for her after she basically disappears with no letters back home, but he runs into a partying crowd and ends up addicted too.

There are the cheap rented rooms, women being driven to the oldest profession to survive, the flop houses where addicts get their fix and then recover, implied kidnapping and forced prostitution, and strangely enough a rich girl who keeps turning up in scenes who winds up having to do with a bigger story - the search for a "Mister Big" who is directing Nick and head of the drug and prostitution rackets. The story unwinds in an interesting and even pretty well acted way given I had never heard of any of the players. It must have been pretty hard dodging the censors and yet having a realistic story. Maybe that's why a rather contrived happy ending is tacked on to the end, although it seems out of place in the midst of all of the tragedy.

I'd recommend it. Just realize that I don't know of any good quality copies in circulation and the film "skips" so at times pieces of conversation are lost.

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Release Date:

December 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Cocaine Fiends See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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