Thursday, April 30, 2009


Ann, the new girl at high school, hangs out with Eve, a pretty blonde who seems friendly and wholesome but who soon drags Ann down a very unwholesome path involving reading racy novels, smoking, drinking, and engaging in heavy petting with boyfriends. Eve's mother is so trampy, she's dating men even though she's not officially divorced; Ann's mom is a dowdy homemaker, but her pop is carrying on an extramarital affair. With such bad role models, who can blame poor Ann for taking a one-way trip down the road to ruin? Tommy seems like a cute kid, but one makeout session on a riverbank ends up with Ann losing her virginity to him. Later, Ralph, a dirty old man, steals Ann away from Tommy. The girls attend a wild pool party, complete with a strip poker game, some midnight skinny-dipping, and a police raid. Eve winds up with syphilis and manages to get medical treatment, but poor Ann winds up pregnant. Ralph insists she get an abortion, but the back-alley doc botches things, and Ann’s road to ruin ends in an untimely death.

Sex gets the Reefer Madness treatment here in a low-budget exploitation film. This doesn't really work as camp because the actors are a bit too sincere. Still, on its own terms, it's not a bad movie. There's a nice feeling of freshness and spontaneity to many of the early scenes. Helen Foster as Ann is OK though she never truly seems down and dirty enough for the trouble she gets in; Nell O'Day is better as Eve, downplaying the trashiness and playing Eve as a smart cookie gone bad. Also fine is Glen Boles as Tommy (pictured), who seems like a nice kid who gets in over his head, not like the usual slimy Lothario type these films usually feature. None of the kids have bad intentions here, though practically all the adults do--in one very funny scene, the pool party neighbors peer voyeuristically out the window before calling the cops, the husband in particular enjoying his eyeful of bad behavior. The movie was co-directed by Dorothy Davenport, or as she's officially billed, "Mrs. Wallace Reid"; Reid was a silent movie star who died at the age of 31 from alcoholism and morphine addiction, and his widow made a number of movies which preached against sinful vices. The preaching here is dated, but it's still a fairly enjoyable trip into B-movie moralizing, spiced with some actual nudity in the pool scene. [TCM]

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

I enjoyed Road to Ruin, but then I'm a big fan of 1930s/1940s exploitation movies.