This week’s mystery movie was the 1930 First National Pictures film “Road to Paradise,” with Loretta Young, Jack Mulhall, Raymond Hatton, George Barraud, Kathlyn Williams, Fred Kelsey, Purnell Pratt, Ben Hendricks Jr., Dot Farley, Winter Hall and Georgette Rhodes.
Adaptation and additional dialogue by F. Hugh Herbert. Photographed by John Seitz. Edited by Edward Schroeder. Art direction by John J. Hughes. Vitaphone Orchestra conducted by Leo F. Forbstein.
Directed by William Beaudine.
“Road to Paradise” is available on DVD from Warner Archive, paired with “Week-End Marriage.”
I chose “Road to Paradise based on a review in Film Daily (Sept. 28, 1930) and because it stars Jack Mulhall in his last film under contract to Warner Bros.
Film Daily said:
Suspensful drama with a mystery angle and underworld background. Loretta Young good in dual role of rich girl and crooks’ accomplice.
Based on the stage play “Cornered.” Story chiefly concerns a feminine raffles who invades the home of a rich girl, for whom she is a dead ringer in looks, and poses as the latter in order to lift a flock of jewelry under orders from her male accomplices. Loretta Young doubles as the two girls and makes a good job of it….
The incredible aspects of the story are nicely submerged, while the stupidity of the detectives makes for occasional comedy. Satisfactory entertainment.
Today, “Road to Paradise” is mostly a curio – an oddball remake of a mediocre film based on a mediocre play.
“Road to Paradise” was a remake of the 1924 silent “Cornered,” also directed by William Beaudine, with Marie Prevost as the two sisters and Raymond Hatton again the two-bit crook Nick. “Cornered” received only a few reviews in the trades, and was generally considered a mediocre film, so it’s a question why the studio remade it as a talkie. I was able to find exactly one still from “Cornered” and that was without Marie Prevost.
“Cornered,” by Dodson L. Mitchell, ran on Broadway for 143 performances from December 1920 to April 1921 with Madge Kennedy in the dual roles.
Writing in the New York Times (Dec. 9, 1920), Alexander Woollcott said of “Cornered”:
Madge Kennedy, the beguiling young farceuse, who vanished into the movies some three years ago, leaving behind her nothing but deep regrets and a scattering of unsatisfactory imitations, reappeared on Broadway last evening in the leading role or roles of an intricate and implausible melodrama called “Cornered.” For many months there had been a persistent but delusive rumor that for her return to the stage she was only waiting for a good play.
The piece she has chosen, or perhaps merely fallen back upon, is one of those trick plays like “One” and “Smilin’ Through,” where in the actress is required to embody two roles, differing chiefly in raiment, and must needs spend a large part of the performance sprinting to and fro behind the backdrop and breathlessly shifting her costumes. Aside from the genuine and hearty welcome which greeted Miss Kennedy’s first appearance last evening, there was quite a lot of applause seemingly intended as an appreciation of the speed with which she could change her clothes.
For Monday, we have a mysterious maid. And as incredible as it may seem, she does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Georgette Rhodes.
For Tuesday, we have two mystery gents. Such goings-on are not approved by them.
Update: This is Winter Hall and perpetual celluloid policeman Fred Kelsey.
For “Hm Wednesday,” we have this nattily attired mystery gent.
Update: This is Raymond Hatton, who starred in the original “Cornered” and the remake.
And we also have this mystery woman. She is perplexed by the leading lady’s goings-on.
Update: This is Dot Farley, whom you may remember as one of the disapproving ladies in “Fighting Father Dunne.”
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and all mystery guests) and the returning Mike Hawks (Tuesday’s mystery policeman).
For “Aha Thursday,” we have this mystery couple. Our mystery woman appears to disapprove of such goings-on.
Update: This is Ben Hendricks Jr. and Kathlyn Williams.
We also have this caddish mystery gent.
Update: This is George Barraud.
And finally, a disapproving mystery gent in a Homburg. Also Back of the Head Woman, who will appear Friday.
Update: This is Purnell Pratt and Loretta Young as Back of the Head Woman.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks, (mystery movie and all mystery guests) and Sheila (mystery movie and all mystery guests). Half-credit to David Inman: He’s in the movie, but this isn’t him.
For Friday, we have our mysterious leading lady and mystery leading man, who does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Loretta Young and Jack Mulhall.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), David Inman (mystery movie and mystery police inspector), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests and peering into the future to see Friday’s mystery leading man), Black Wing Jenny (mystery movie and Back of the Head Woman — and half-credit for identifying Thursday’s mystery rogue as our mystery leading man) and Lorenzo (Thursday’s Back of the Head Woman)