Wet Parade, The (1932): Victor Fleming’s Version of Upton Sinclair’s Novel

Victor Fleming directed The Wet Parade, a pre-Code drama, starring Robert Young, Myrna Loy, Walter Huston, Lewis Stone and Jimmy Durante.

Based on Upton Sinclair’s 1931 novel, it depicts how two families are devastated by the effects of alcohol and Prohibition.

The story covers a wide range of figures, from the hotel resident who breakfasts on beer to the New York cabbies who carry guns as protection from bootleggers.

When the movie was released in March 1932, Prohibition had been law for 13 years and would not end until December 5, 1933, with the passage of the 21st Amendment.

When the tale begins, in 1916, the men of the elite circles of the Chilcotes of Louisiana are drunk after an elegant dinner.

Maggie May looks after her father, retrieving him when he makes a spectacle of himself in public. “I’m just a low down cowardly drunkard,” he tells her.

After going on a drinking and gambling spree, in which he loses the family’s money, he kills himself. After the funeral, his friends toast him.

In the end, Maggie smashes the whiskey decanter, while raging: “I hope I live to see the day that every bit that was ever made was poured into the cesspool where it belongs.”