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Quick Reviews:

"Delinquent Daughters" (1944)
"Gambling With Souls" (1936)
"Mad Youth" (1940)
"The Pace That Kills" (1935)
"The Road to Ruin" (1934)
"Sex Madness" (1938)
"The Terror of Tiny Town" (1938)

Delinquent Daughters (1944)-  This is one of the worst and corniest movies I've ever seen.  First of all, the movie is called "Delinquent Daughters", but it's not just about girl delinquents; boys play a big part, too.  The title must have been the producers way of giving this sex appeal to horned-up male moviegoers.  There's a few moments of watchability, but for the large part it's dismissible.  Many propaganda/exploitation movies from this time dealt with the evils of drugs, alcohol, prostitution.  I guess this movie deals with the evils of...teenagers.  That's about it.

    A teenage girl's suicide prompts police and reporters to investigate the circumstances of her death.  No, it wasn't a "cover up"; she really did commit suicide.  We couldn't be lucky enough to get a juicy mystery out of this movie.

    Apparently, teenagers are evil if they sit around in swanky nightclubs, with adult supervision, and do...nothing.  This directly causes young people to knock over candy stores, gas stations, and friendly motorists.

    The antagonists of this movie are nightclub owner Nick Gordon and his woman Mimi.  Mimi must be an evil floozy, because she has a French accent and a wild temper.  That's about as deep as anything gets in this movie.  Every actor presents a really over-the-top characterization.  Nick, for some reason, likes to spend his time with young kids and get them in trouble.  Ha, ha!  None of the young guys like Nick, but they follow him because they're a bunch of dopes, making Nick the mastermind of a juvenile crimewave that (Alert! Alert!) catches the attention of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover (according to a briefly flashed newspaper headline).

    The "heroes" of this movie are teens June Thompson (June Carlson) and Rocky Webster (Johnny Duncan) that look to be well in their twenties along with the rest of the "high schoolers" in this movie.  Johnny Duncan (whom I've had the pleasure of e-mailing) had quite a busy acting career, and might be best-known for playing Robin in the 1949 serial, "Batman & Robin".  Duncan is one of the reasons to see this movie, for curiosity's sake if nothing else.  Mary Bovard, as total giggly idiot Betty Smith, is the highlight of the cast.  Extremely stupid, but Betty is the only character in this movie with a pulse.  She's in the movie quite a bit in the first half, then we don't see her at all when the story picks up.  Fortunately, she doesn't get into the kind of deep trouble the other kids do.

    The "baddest kids" are Sally Higgins (Teala Loring) and Jerry Sykes (Jimmy Zahner).  These are the ones that actually like to commit petty crimes, for whopping amounts of $2.38 or $13.00 a hit.  Wow!  Who says it pays to stay in school?  Sally is the tough-talking one of the girls, even when there's nothing to talk tough about, and Jerry envisions himself as a gangster worthy of over-throwing Nick Gordon.  Sally is so bad that she becomes the floozy of Nick Gordon; Nick likes young girls.  Jerry ends up getting shot in a robbery that goes bad.  He's in a coma, but we're not told if he dies.  Nick Gordon and Sally Higgins die in a fantastic car crash during the climax of the film.  All these kids were friends that hung out together, but nobody seems affected by the deaths of Sally or Jerry, especially since they're partying at the newly revamped, sanitized nightclub for kids.  And no one seems to miss Betty Smith, Francine Van Pelt, or some of the other characters we see at the beginning of the movie.  Where did they go, anyway?

    Johnny Duncan and Mary Bovard are two brightspots in the movie.  The third jewel is a funny catfight between Mimi and Sally Higgins over the affections of too studly Nick Gordon.  The catfight ends with Nick knocking Mimi out and running away with Sally.  "That ought to hold her for awhile."  This part is just too entertaining.

    If we take what this movie tells us for gospel, teenagers are inherently evil creatures that CAN be reformed by silly lectures from stuffy old men.  Teenagers, themselves, feel like an oppressed slave class and nobody knows what they feel like because nobody else has ever been a teenager.  Huh?  Everything is better if you work really hard for it and suffer.  Teenagers can only have fun within the guidelines of what adults think they can do for fun.  Most of all, it tells us why most people hate cheap black-and-white movies from the 1940s.


June Carlson as June Thompson [Misunderstood girl hero of the movie and Rocky's girlfriend]
Johnny Duncan as Rocky Webster [Misunderstood boy hero of the movie and June's boyfriend]
Jon Dawson as Nick Gordon [The nightclub owner/gangster leader]
Fifi D'Orsay as Mimi [Nick's woman]
Teala Loring as Sally Higgins [Tragic bad girl that loves crime and advances from Jerry to Nick]
Jimmy Zahner as Jerry Sykes (credited as Jimmy Zaner) [Evil-to-the-core bad boy that loves crime and wants to bump Nick from top spot, but still takes orders from him]
Joe Devlin as Detective Hallahan [Cop that has nothing better to do than spy on teenagers day and night, trying to solve all their problems]
Frank McGlynn, Sr. as Judge Craig (credited as Frank McGlynn) [We see him in only one scene, but he must be close to God status because he fixes almost all the kids with one lecture]
Warren Mills as Roy Ford [The idiot teen boy that's just slightly smarter than Betty]
Mary Bovard as Betty Smith [The idiot teen girl that's put in the movie for comic relief and nothing else, thank goodness]
John Christian as Mr. Thompson [June's abusive father]
Frank Stephens as Mr. Webster [Rocky's drunk father, possibly retarded?]
Floyd Criswell as Detective Joe Miller [Hallahan's partner, shown in some scenes to prove to us that the town's police force consists of more than just one cop]
Margia Dean as Francine Van Pelt [Teen girl, I don't know what she does in this movie]

Director- Albert Herman
Writer- Arthur St. Claire

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Fun Facts:

Gambling With Souls (1936)-  This is pretty decent, and presents one of the more relevant moral messages in exploitation movies of the "Golden Age".  The message?  Gambling is bad.  That's it.  This movie tells the tale of a typical housewife who gambles and ultimately ruins her life.  To me, gambling is wrong, and I always thought it was SUPPOSED to be illegal.  For some reason or another, everybody thinks it's okay to set up casinos everywhere.  Everyone that goes to a casino is throwing away their money, and it's been allowed to continue since the 1990s.  It used to be Las Vegas and Reno were the only real "legal" gambling hotspots.  Whatever happened to that?  "Gambling With Souls" is just as significant today as it was when it was made.  I think it's funny that no one makes anti-gambling movies now.

    As a movie, this was done pretty well for a poverty row exploitation flick.  The movie opens with a police raid, and lots of women running around in their underwear.  The police barge into a room where a blonde woman is holding a gun over the body of criminal kingpin Lucky Wilder.  After being taken into custody, the woman tells her story through flashback.  The woman's name is Mae Miller.  She is the wife of Dr. Don Miller, an up-and-coming physician.  They live comfortably, but can't afford all the nice things that they'd really like to have, that Don's working so hard to earn.  Mae is tricked by a woman named Molly Murdock into attending illegal gambling functions.  The naive housewife falls into the same trap that has ruined so many women.  At first, Mae "wins" a lot of money, which is given to her as an incentive to keep gambling.  Once Mae is hooked, she develops a nasty gambling addiction.  When Mae can't pay her losses, she is forced into prostitution to make up the difference.

    After Lucky Wilder and his operation ruins Mae, and causes the death of her sister Carolyn, Mae exacts revenge by killing Wilder.  Mae's husband finds out about everything that's happened, and we are left to wonder what happens to Mae.  Will she be punished for killing the terrible Wilder, or will she be allowed to return to her formerly happy life?  We don't know.

    I think this movie tells people a lot of things they should know about the underworld of gambling and what goes on.  The same kind of stuff that happened back then is alive and well today.  As a movie lover, I didn't like the ending, because it's not a happy ending.  However, it is memorable, and it IS important to stress that not everyone will get away with killing bad men, no matter how much they deserve it.  Worth watching.


Martha Chapin as Mae Miller
Wheeler Oakman as Lucky Wilder
Vera Steadman as Molly Murdock
Robert Frazer as Dr. Don Miller
Gay Sheridan as Carolyn
Bryant Washburn as Million Dollar Taylor
Edward Keane as Attorney [credited as Ed. Keane]
Gaston Glass as Officer

Director- Elmer Clifton
Writer- J.D. Kendis

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Fun Facts:

Mad Youth (1940)-  This is actually pretty good.  I'm surprised.  Most exploitation movies of the 1930s and 40s were made with a moral.  There's no moral here.  It's basically sin shown for entertainment value.  A divorced mother and her teenage daughter live equally wild lifestyles, ultimately fighting over the same man.  They're both just terrible skeezers.  Mother Lucy is easily the most self-centered.  Her advances toward paid escort Count DeHoven are shot down in flames.  Instead, the sophisticated Count pursues and woos daughter Marian.  The Count reforms the wild young girl, then mysteriously leaves without telling her why or for how long.  Upon her mother's discovery of the juicy affair, Marian leaves home to stay with a friend and her new "husband".  Instead, Marian finds herself trapped in a cathouse where girls are tricked into coming and held against their will.  Count DeHoven comes to Marian's rescue, fights off her kidnappers, and takes her away to get married.  The Count reveals that he went away to earn his U.S. citizenship and find a good, legitimate job.  The Count and Marian both change their ways and become better people by the end of the film.  However, we see Lucy up to her old tricks, calling for yet another escort.

    The title isn't bad, but it's not wholly accurate.  The older people are as wild, if not wilder, than the teenagers.  Lucy Morgan and all her compatriots are really shady.  The kids mostly like to dance and fool around, which is something kids of ANY generation like to do, and it's all pretty harmless.  The reissue title, "Girls of the Underworld", is a lot better as it refers directly to the two female leads and their illicit activities.

    For the time, this movie was edgy.  It's STILL not a G-movie.  However, the content is pretty clean.  There's no bad language or nudity, and violence is limited to fist fights.  But in 1940, the large majority of the film's topic matter was questionable.  Sex was definitely touched on.  As well as drunkenness, gambling, stripping, and prostitution.  Divorce was not a commonly touched theme for the time period.  Escort services are rarely referred to in Hollywood's "Golden Age".  As a matter of fact, this movie throws in every vice short of drug abuse and turns it into a really entertaining little movie.

    The jitterbug dancers are awesome!  They really have talent.  It's too bad this movie was on the "shady" circuit, because these guys and girls deserved a lot more respect.  Betty Atkinson, as Helen Johnson, is one incredible baton twirler!  I've never seen anyone work a baton with as much success as Betty Atkinson.

    This is a fun movie to see, and it lets us know that things weren't all "squeaky clean" back in 1940.


Mary Ainslee as Marian Morgan
Betty Compson as Lucy Morgan
Willy Castello as Count DeHoven
Betty Atkinson as Helen Johnson
Margaret Fealy as Helen's Grandmother
Donald Kerr as Taxi Driver
Monte Collins as Stewart the Singing Bridge Player [credited as Monty Collins]
Florence Dudley as The Madam [uncredited]
Hal Price as Escort Bureau Manager [uncredited]
Ethelreda Leopold as Blonde Secretary for Escort Service [uncredited]
Donald Reed as Club Emcee [uncredited]
Tommy Wonder as Harry
Lorelei Readoux as Beth

Special Mention:
Noel Neill as Teenager [uncredited]
Jitterbugs- Ray Hirsch, Patty Lacey, Eugene Taylor, Aileen Morris, Maxine Taylor, Pearl Tolson, Glen Dennison [uncredited].

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Fun Facts:

The Pace That Kills (1935)-  This is a stupid movie with a story that goes nowhere and guess what:  It's a remake of the movie of the same name from 1928!  This movie does have a handful of things in it, though, that makes it relevant for us today.  First of all, this movie points out that cocaine abuse was a problem even in 1935 and, because of the earlier movie, also as far back as 1928.  And, if they made a movie about cocaine in 1928, it had to be a widespread problem long before then.  So many people think cocaine was something that came out in the 1970s and that couldn't be farther from the truth.

    The subject matter in this movie is pretty edgy, even by today's standards.  They're talking about drug pushers that sell cocaine to school kids, prostitution, suicide...really dark stuff.  An old lady calls a cocaine addict a "hophead", which we don't usually associate with 1930s slang.  Despite all of this, the movie remains pretty "clean" with no bad language, sex, or graphic violence.

    This film starts with, and promises, that Jane Bradford is the main character.  She's a country girl who gets hooked up with a big city drug pusher named Nick.  So Jane goes with Nick to the city and marries him.  The story severely drifts to Jane's brother, Eddie, and his girlfriend, Fanny.  Eddie is working as a carhop in the city, and looks for Jane in his spare time.  Meanwhile, Fanny gets Eddie and herself hooked on cocaine, too.  Then the story jumps to spoiled rich girl Dorothy and her boyfriend, Dan, who become casual acquaintances of Eddie and Fanny.  Then the story jumps to Dorothy and her troubled father.  Dorothy ends up becoming more of a lead character than anyone in this movie, and we don't see Jane Bradford or Nick for a very long time.  The ending leaves you way unsatisfied.  Jane shoots and kills Nick in self defense, but ends up being arrested.  Eddie, whom Jane was trying to get money to send back home, is sick and dying somewhere.  That's as far as the story goes for them.  On the other hand, it turns out Dorothy's father is the major crime boss, and that Dan is really an undercover vice cop.  Dorothy and Dan get engaged.  End of movie.  Dumb as dirt.

    This movie isn't worth seeing beyond the fact that it lets us know that cocaine was, indeed, a problem, even back in the "innocent and wholesome" period of the 1930s.


Lois January as Jane Bradford
Noel Madison as Nick, the Pusher

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The Road to Ruin (1934)
-  What a downer!  A goody-goody high school girl takes the "road to ruin", becoming a chain-smoking, alcoholic, two-timing floozy.  She gets pregnant, and ends up dying after a quack doctor performs an unsafe abortion on her.  I guess the message of this movie is for young girls to NOT hang out with the wrong crowd.

    There are a few cool things in the movie.  Laurel & Hardy mainstay Mae Busch (typically cast as Ollie's wife) plays Mrs. Monroe, the mother of the main character's best friend.  They don't really show enough of her to save this sleazy movie, but she's fun to see.  There is also a brunette in the last party scene who is really built.  We can tell this because she's stripped down to her bra.  I don't know who she is because credits weren't very clear in movies from this period.  Funny character actor Donald Kerr played Little Willy, the Drunk Shooting Dice.  Besides these things, the movie is totally dismissible.

Sex Madness (1938)-  This movie is bad in every conceivable way.  Bad acting, bad filming, bad writing (what writing?)...it's just bad.  The only watchable part was a total goof that any decent editor would have clipped out of the final version.  When Millicent Hamilton (Vivian McGill) talks to her landlady Mrs. Jonas (Ruth Edell) in the early moments of the film, the window slams shut, causing McGill to flub her line.

    It's hard to tell who the major character is supposed to be, because there are two distinct sets of characters.  This movie is all about the dangers of reckless, premarital sex and how it can lead to syphillis and other venereal diseases.  You do have to give this movie credit in one area; it was allowed to say the word "sex" not only in the title, but in the script itself.  It's not a big deal in movies from the 1960s onward, but in 1938, whoa!  Big step, there.

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The Terror of Tiny Town (1938)
-  This is the world's only all-midget Western musical, and for good reason.  It's not anywhere near as cute or funny as I thought it would be.  It's just another Western movie, but with midgets, which is bizarre.  I really didn't see the comedy factor in this movie, despite a few sight gags like midgets riding shetland ponies, and walking under the saloon doors.  And I really don't see how this is a happy movie for kiddies to watch.  Several midgets get killed in this movie, and it's not done in a funny way.  Near the end, the villain punches out his dance hall girl.  The villain, himself, gets blown to pieces in a shack.  This movie might have been okay if it was done in a comedic vein, but it seems too serious.  Weird stuff.  I can't believe so many midget actors and actresses committed to this movie.  Had they no self respect?

    The only funny midget was Otto the cook (played by Charlie Becker).  I'm all about seeing funny midgets.  However, this movie just isn't worth your time.  There's a few amusing visuals, and that's it.


Billy Curtis as The Hero (Buck Lawson)
Yvonne Moray as The Girl (Nancy Preston)
Little Billy Rhodes as The Villain (Bat Haines) [credited as Little Billy]
Billy Platt as The Rich Uncle (Jim "Tex" Preston)
John T. Bambury as The Ranch Owner (Pop Lawson)
Joseph Herbst as The Sheriff
Charlie Becker as The Cook (Otto)
Nita Krebs as The Vampire (Nita, the Dance Hall Girl)
Fern Formica as Diamond Dolly

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