Roadhouse Nights

Roadhouse Nights
Directed by Hobart Henley
Produced by Walter Wanger
Written by Ben Hecht (story)
Garret Fort
Starring Helen Morgan
Charles Ruggles
Fred Kohler
Jimmy Durante
Cinematography William O. Steiner
Edited by Helene Turner
Distributed by Paramount Studios
Release dates
February 23, 1930
Running time
68 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Roadhouse Nights is a 1930 American Pre-Code gangster film. A number of sources including Sally Cline in her book Dashiell Hammett Man of Mystery claim it is based on the classic novel Red Harvest written by Dashiell Hammett (author of The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and The Glass Key). However the credits of the film itself say only "An Original Screenplay by Ben Hecht." Hammett receives no mention at all (and the plots are not similar).

The movie, an unusual amalgam of musical comedy and gangster melodrama, was directed by Hobart Henley, stars Helen Morgan, Charles Ruggles, and Fred Kohler, and features a rare screen musical comedy performance by Jimmy Durante, in his screen debut, with his vaudeville partners Lou Clayton and Eddie Jackson ("Clayton, Jackson, and Durante"). Helen Morgan also sings It Can't Go On Like This.


The film's star is Helen Morgan, a nitery chanteuse whose gangster bosses head a murderous bootleg operation. Charlie Ruggles portrays a news reporter pretending to be an inveterate drinker. He frequents Morgan's club, his phony drunkenness a cover for his investigation of the bootleg ring

Filmed at Paramount's Astoria Studios in Astoria, Long Island, Roadhouse Nights is typical pre-Code Prohibition-era entertainment, with a reasonably "straight" performance from comic actor Ruggles and a few songs from Helen Morgan.


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