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The Road to Ruin (May 15, 1934)

Nell O'Day and Helen Foster

Released on May 15, 1934: A Coming of Age drama about a good girl gone wrong with men, booze and sex, designed to scare the bee-jeebers out of young ladies.

Directed by Dorothy Davenport

The Actors: Helen Foster (Ann Dixon), Nell O'Day (Eve Monroe), Glen Boles (Tommy), Robert Quirk (Ed), Paul Page (Ralph Bennett), Richard Hemingway (Brad), Virginia True Boardman (Martha Dixon), Richard Tucker (Mr. Dixon), Donald Kerr (drunk shooting dice), Eleanor Thatcher (dancer), Neal Pratt (Evans), Jimmy Tolson (Jimmy, club singer), Edward Biby (party guest), Mae Busch (Mrs. Monroe), Jack Cheatham (detective), Dorothy Davenport (Mrs. Merrill), Fern Emmett (neighbor Homer's wife), Adolph Faylauer (party guest), J.C. Fowler (Homer, the alarmed neighbor), J. Frank Glendon (Ann's doctor), Lew Hicks (detective), Jack Holmes (party guest), Walter James (headwaiter), Theodore Lorch (abortion doctor), Stanley Mack (bartender), Merrill McCormick (party guest), Field Norton (party guest), Arthur Vinton (detective).

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Do you remember your first kiss? Now, I'm not talking about when Aunt Martha visits and plants a sloppy wet one on your forehead and pinches your cheeks till they hurt . . . I mean a real kiss between a boy and a girl. For me it was in high school. I can still remember the spot I was standing on in the school hallway. I was spending the time as a 'hall monitor' - standing guard to see that no students tried to escape, or go anywhere during classes without a properly signed note from the teacher. I have no memory of why Patty was in the empty hallway that afternoon, or where she was headed for, but there she was. With long blonde hair and a smile like a rainbow, Patty was in the hallway headed for somewhere, and she stopped to talk to me. All memories of what was said have been erased from my old mind . . . in truth, I think that a minute after she kissed me I lost all memory of the event . . . except for that kiss. For some reason, she gave me a quick but marvelous kiss and then quickly turned away and went wherever she was headed for. Sometime later, when I got my senses back, all I could do was grin from ear to ear. Of course, in those days I was much too shy and naive to do anything about it . . . boy, was I dumb. I don't remember ever talking to her again about anything but the most innocent high school things, but I will never forget that kiss.

Dorothy Davenport grew up in a family of actors. She had an aunt that was one of the greatest Broadway actresses of her time, and her father was also a Broadway star. When movies were created, her father got into motion pictures, and daughter Dorothy followed, acting in 140 pictures from 1910 to 1934. Dorothy not only acted in this, her final motion picture, but also wrote and directed it, at the age of 39. At first blush it seems to be a warning to all young girls about the dangers that await them in the wild and wonderful world they are entering as they become adults. But it is actually a message picture for parents like her, warning them to pay attention to their children as they grow up and give them the one tool that will help them make adult decisions as they leave the nest. Her well-written script deftly tells parents that they need to give their children that 'sex talk' before they start dating. Did you get that talk from your parents when you were growing up? Me neither. Thank goodness most of us somehow survive and find our way in this big, beautiful but sometimes dangerous world.

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