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Roads of Destiny (1921)

Roads of Destiny (1921) Goldwyn Pictures Corp. Director: Frank Lloyd. Scenario: J. E. Nash. Camera: J.D. Jennings. Cast: Pauline Frederick, John Bowers, Richard Tucker, Jane Novak, Willard Louis, Maude George, Maurice B. Flynn. In real life and three dream sequences in different locales, betrayed woman cannot escape her fate. 5-6 reels. LOST

This film appears to be lost.

A poster for Roads of Destiny
(Thanks to David Menefee)
Roads of Destiny poster
Roads of Destiny picture A picture of Frederic in costume
(Thanks to Jane from the Historical Ziegfeld site)
Click on thumbnail for larger view

A pressbook, courtesy of Derek Boothroyd. There is some water damage. I also put up a PDF copy in the Internet Archive

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World
Photoplay review

Review from Variety, April 1, 1921

Rose Merritt Pauline Frederick
David Marsh John Bowers
Lewis Marsh Richard Tucker
Ann Hardy Jane Novak
Mr. Hardy Hardee Kirkland
McPherson Willard Louis
Fate Maude George
Colby M.B. Flynn

"Roads of Destiny," a Goldwyn production, directed by Frank Lloyd, from a scenario by Channing Pollock, was suggested by the story of that name written by O. Henry. Instead of making the central character a man, as in the short story, Mr. Pollock has made the chief figure a woman. This was probably because of the fact that it presents a woman star, in Pauline Frederick.

In brief, the gist of the story is that "what is to be will be." The fatalistic idea has been the basis of many pictures in the past, but as presented in "Roads of Destiny" it reveals hitherto unrealized possibilities. The dramatic element has been splendidly brought out in this production, due to the presence of an excellent cast as well as a scenario that possesses something deeper than regulation type of scenarios.

In a production way the film has many outstanding features, such as the scenes laid in Alaska, depicting life in the rough and ready days of the gold rush, with its dance halls, gambling houses, etc. Another part of the film has the Long Island suburban cottage section for its background, with its wealth of picturesque scenery, furnishing atmosphere of the convincing sort.

The thousands who have read the O. Henry story will find in the film a splendid variation of the theme. A striking interpretation is given by John Bowers, who incidentally bears a considerable resemblance to William Farnum. Richard Tucker also shines in a role that permits of dramatic expression of the higher order. Jane Novak plays with her customary ease, and artistic portrayals are offered by Hardee Kirkland, Willard Louis, and Maude George.

Miss Frederick gets everything possible out of a role that calls for repressed emotion. The picture pleased when shown initially at the Capitol last Sunday afternoon. It should give equal satisfaction in any of the better picture houses.


Review from Moving Picture World

April 9, 1921

"Roads of Destiny"
Pauline Frederick is Dramatically Effective in Goldwyn Production of O. Henry Material.
Reviewed by Edward Weitzel.

The outstanding feature of "Roads of Destiny" is the opportunity it gives Pauline Frederick to do some dramatically effective acting. The production is excellent and the star is ably supported by John Bowers, Jane Novak and the other members of the cast. Founded on the stage play made by Channing Pollock from O. Henry's story, the screen version seems old-fashioned in form and contrary to the spirit of modern film material. The story is in four episodes, the author having resorted to the dream method in order to permit his heroine to assume several characters. As all of these episodes end with a tragedy there is repetition of situations that does not make for strength.

Pauline Frederick, as the betrayed woman who cannot escape her destiny, goes a long way toward making the story acceptable, even when it is found impossible to agree with the O. Henry belief in fatalism and the damnable theory it implies.

Rose Merritt Pauline Frederick
David Marsh John Bowers
Lewis Marsh Richard Tucker
Ann Hardy Jane Novak
Mr. Hardy Hardee Kirkland
McPherson Willard Louis
Fate Maude George
Colby M.B. Flynn

Story by O. Henry.
Adapted by Channing Pollack as a Stage Play.
Directed by Frank Lloyd.
About 4,955 feet.

The Story:
David and Lewis Marsh are brothers. Lewis betrays Rose Merritt. When she follows him to his home he refuses to marry her. He is in love with Ann Hardy, who is also loved by his brother David. Ann cared for David but Lewis pleads with this brother not to take Ann from him. While David is undecided what to do he falls asleep and dreams three different dreams, in which the characters in his own domestic tragedy act out the same finish to each episode. The first episode takes place in Alaska, where Ann is the companion of a gambling house keeper and is killed by him for falling honestly in love with a young inventor who loves another woman. The second episode is in the East among a number of society people. The third episode introduces the betrayed woman as a Mexican girl who loves honestly but cannot escape her fate. At the finish David wakes up and decided to marry Ann himself.

Program and Exploitation Catchlines: "Roads of Destiny" Pauline Frederick Plays a Society Woman, a Gambler's Assistant in a Western Dance Hall, and a Mexican Girl.
As the Heroine of "Roads of Destiny" Pauline Frederick is Seen in Four Different Characters.

Exploitation Angles: Play up the star and link her name with O. Henry's, then feature the three dramas and the opportunities it affords Miss Frederick. You can use the street sign stunt for exploitation, telling that this road of destiny leads to your theatre with arrows pointing the right direction.

Review from Photoplay

July 1921

Pauline Frederick in plaid shirt

Photo caption: Pauline Frederick is excellent in her four roles in "Roads of Destiny," a photoplay adapted from Channing Pollock's stage play, which was based on the original story by O. Henry


The success of the multi-story photoplay has never been marked, though this elaboration of the O. Henry story which Channing Pollock adapted to the stage, is unusually well presented. Pauline Frederick is excellent in her four different roles, and the scenery varies from the dance halls of Alaska to the drawaing rooms of Long Island. The theory advanced is that it is impossible to avoid of escape one's fate, whhich was decided at the beginning of TIme. John Bowers in Miss Frederick's support.

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Last revised, December 25, 2014