The Wrong Road

Director: James Cruze

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

The Wrong Road (1937) opens with a young engaged couple conspiring to rob the bank at which clean-cut Jimmy (Richard Cromwell) will soon be laid off. He'd thought he'd get out of college & go straight into a well-paying job, but after three years as a poorly paid bank teller, he's now facing being out a job entirely, & fairly bitter about having achieved none of his ambitions.

Youthfully fresh-faced Ruth (Helen Mack), too, is disappointed with life. Her once wealthy father lost everything, & her intended future as a socialite was ruined. She & Jimmy are a good match, since both grew up believing success should be handed to them, but have struggled like the common hordes, & they're sick of it.

They've decided that if they can get away with a hundred thousand dollars, that's worth serving two or three years in prison, as they can get out & live well. A detective (Lionel Atwill) attempts to talk sense into them when they are caught, pointing out that among other things the money's numbers are known, & they'll have to have the money laundered, so they'll be lucky to keep sixty thousand of the hundred thousand, which divided between them for ten years for their mutual prison senseses, it won't be much of a salary.

They were shocked to get ten years but even so stick to their guns hoping for early parole, which they could easily get if they'd return the money, but they remain committed to their plan.

To their surprise they get parolled in two years after all. But it's only so they can be trailed by the law to recover the money. And until the full ten years have passed, they will not have civil rights, including a right to get married, & could be thrown back in jail at any time if they break the restrictive conditions of their release.

They'd hidden the money in a music box left with Ruth's uncle, who died a little before their paroles. During their comedy-of-errors pursuit of the music box from one place to another, the detective is always nearby smiling & recommending they return they money so they can be pardoned & finally get married.

More dangerously, they're also being pursued by a gangster who had been Jimmy's cell mate. Blackie (Horace McMahon) is willing to kill to get the dough for himself.

It's quite a short feature & well before you're halfway through it, it is clearly a moralistic piece of twaddle. It wants to tell a good story much less than it wants to deliver a lame lecture. It becomes almost unwatchable as it works its way through the most obvious development, with Ruth & Jimmy at long last realizing their pursuit of the stolen money is driving a wedge between them.

At last they make the decision they're supposed to & the sappy-happy ending is just about as mawkish as saving a kitten from the well, only less satisfying.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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