The governor is worried about a rash of murders and disappearances involving hitchhiking girls. (The newspaper headlines read: HOBO GIRL STRANGLED!) His daughter (who also doubles as his secretary) takes the issue to heart and decides to go out on the road the see how the girls live first hand. Her first night on the road, she gets picked up by the cops for vagrancy and is sent to prison. In jail, there’s a riot and the sheriff turns the hose on the girls. After being released from jail, the girls take to the road again. When the destitute debs find an abandoned house, they turn it into a commune for lost girls. Naturally, jealousy and greed leads to catfights, mud wrestling, and death.
Directed by Nick Grinde, Girls of the Road isn’t nearly as exploitative as you may think. It’s a solid pulpy melodrama that’s acted and directed with conviction and probably wowed audiences back in 1940. Today though, Girls of the Road is nothing more than an entertaining albeit forgettable piece of fluff masquerading as a “message” film. I’m sure female vagrancy was topical at the time (it was an election year, so I’m guessing that was one of the hot button issues) but really the flick is only good for a couple of unintentional laughs a la Reefer Madness. I’m not saying it’s as good as that camp classic, although it certainly does have it’s moments.
Grinde also directed two Boris Karloff chillers, Before I Hang and The Man with Nine Lives the same year.