Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adults Only Double Feature! - The Pace That Kills (1935) / Assassin of Youth (1937)

The Pace That Kills aka Cocaine Fiends (1935)

Question for you:  if the person giving you "headache powders" insists they must be snorted to work, wouldn't that raise, I don't know, RED FLAGS?!

Lois January (whose claim to fame these days is as Dorothy's manicurist, turning her frown into a smile) plays Jane Bradford, a naive small-town girl lured into the downward spiral of cocaine by a smooth-talking man (Noel Madison); her big-city brother Eddie (Dean Benton) is suffering the same fate at the hands of a beautiful girl (Sheila Manners).  The picture gets weird, with a protracted nightclub scene featuring some dubious "talent":

Frank Collins, the Singing Waiter.  Surprisingly, this was his only film credit.

It all goes to hell in a handbasket at the end, with the nogoodniks getting their due and Jane sacrificing her future in order for Eddie to have one again.  There was one scene that made me sit up: a complete ripoff of Tallulah Bankhead's touching "leaving for the drugstore" from Faithless.  Nice attempt to lend a bit of pathos to the story, but it just didn't work.

Scorecard:  crime, drug use, violence, prostitution, sex, unwed pregnancy, suicide, bad nightclub acts

Six Degrees of Ten Nights in a Barroom:  Sheila Manners 

Assassin of Youth aka The Marihuana Menace aka Miss Gulch's Doppleganger (1937)

I was impressed by this one - it actually had a plot!  Not a feasible one, mind you, but it's the thought that counts.  Joan Barry (Luana Walters, who found work in mostly unbilled parts until she drank herself to death at age 50) plays a girl who must stay "good" in order to inherit her grandmother's fortune; she's faced at every turn by the dangers of her fast-living cohorts, namely Linda Clayton (Fay McKenzie), who is actively trying to knock Joan off her pedestal.  Why?  You'll have to watch the picture.  Undercover pedophile reporter Art Brighton strives to steer her out of their clutches before it's too late. 

The most fascinating part of the picture for me was discovering Fern Emmett.  How in the world can there be another person that looks, sounds, and laughs exactly like Margaret Hamilton?!  According to her page at Allmovie.com the resemblance was so close that even historians mistakenly lump their film credits together.  It didn't help that Ms Emmett spent quite a few scenes putting around on a scooter, reminiscent of another Wizard of Oz moment:

Mommy, please leave the light on...

Scorecard:  drug use, nudity, alcohol, violence, sex

Six Degrees of Ten Nights in a Barroom: Fern Emmett and Henry Roquemore, Emmett's real life husband

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