Excuse the absence, these past two weeks have been long for Miss Fierce. They also encompassed a birthday. . .and what better way to celebrate nearing my dotage than to watch a pre-code film about teenaged hobos!
Wild Boys of the Road, was directed by William Wellman in 1933. If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because he helmed the first film to win an Oscar for Best Picture, “Wings,” back in 1927. Interestingly, it was also the only silent film to ever be credited with the award. But I digress!
Eddie (Frankie Darro) and Tommy (Edwin Phillips) are best friends, growing up amidst the pitfalls of normal middle-class adolescence (dating, cars, school dances) until both their families experience financial destitution. Hitherto blissfully unaware of the Depression’s realities, the pair is thrown into an entirely different world over night when they decide to run away, so as not to further burden their parents.
On their travels, they meet up with a host of other young people, all pushed out onto the road by the Depression. Most notable amongst these wayward youngsters is Sally (Dorothy Coonan Wellman, the director’s future wife), a freckle-faced girl disguised as a boy, whom they encounter whilst riding the rails. The trio forms an unlikely familial unit, with Eddie assuming the “fatherly” role of leader, as they navigate an unforgiving territory in search of respite from crushing poverty.