A lengthy drama based on an Upton Sinclair novel, which shows the evils both of drinking and of the Prohibition law. Divided into two parts--"The Parade in the South" and "The Parade in the North"--the film centers on two families. The Northern family is the Tarletons, headed by Huston,
a hard drinker who spends his time in New York bars. The Southern clan, the Chilcotes, is headed by the gentlemanly Stone, who drinks as much as Huston and runs a bootlegging operation. Stone is Married to Dunn and is the father of two: Hamilton, who plans to go to New York and become a writer,
and Jordan, a beautiful and decent daughter. Stone downs some bad hootch, is sent into a maddening depression, and slits his throat while in a pigsty. Meanwhile, up North, Huston has been tipping the bottle too often. When is wife, Blandick, angrily breaks a bottle of expensive liquor, Huston
kills her and is sent to prison for life. His son, Young, later joins the FBI and, with partner Durante, tracks down a gang of bootleggers. Before long Young and Jordan have fallen in love and married. Jordan's brother Hamilton has become a successful playwright in New York and married Loy. Booze
takes its toll on Hamilton who, like his father, pays no attention to Prohibition. After downing an excess of rotgut liquor, Hamilton goes blind and loses the less-than-faithful Loy. Young and Durante continue their pursuit of the lawbreakers and the illegal stills. They get close, but before they
can foil the operation, Young is kidnaped. Durante locates his partner and in the ensuing battle is killed trying to save Young's life. THE WET PARADE never really takes a stand. It shows the evils of drinking--Huston and Stone both suffer, as do their families--but it also proves the
ineffectiveness of Prohibition. At one point, the agents complain that the law is counter-productive, but they must do their job and continue their crackdown. The film is not exceptionally well done, but some fine performances (Durante is a standout who, with his humor, adds some much-needed life
to the production) and its honest treatment of an explosive issue make it worthwhile. Beginning in 1916, the film devotes much of its screen time to the historical issues of the day, including footage of the presidential contest between Woodrow Wilson and Charles Evans Hughes and coverage of WW1.
Even more time, however, is spent on the process of making bootleg mash--from the cleaning and labeling of the bottles to shipping.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A lengthy drama based on an Upton Sinclair novel, which shows the evils both of drinking and of the Prohibition law. Divided into two parts--"The Parade in the South" and "The Parade in the North"--the film centers on two families. The Northern family is t… (more)