The Pace That Kills (1935 film)

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The Pace That Kills
Directed by
  • Norton S. Parker
  • William A. O'Connor (credited as Wm. A. O'Connor)
Produced by Willis Kent
Starring Lois January
Narrated by Willis Kent (credited as presenter)
Cinematography Jack Greenhalgh
Edited by Holbrook N. Todd
Willis Kent Productions
Distributed by "State Rights"
Release date
  • December 1935 (1935-12)
Running time
68 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Pace That Kills (also known as Cocaine Madness and The Cocaine Fiends) is a 1935 American exploitation film directed by William O'Connor. The film, starring Lois January, told the story of a woman called Jane Bradford, who gets involved with a drug dealer and becomes addicted to cocaine. Similar to other movies of the genre, the final film was a reissued work with additional scenes, mostly using footage from the earlier silent The Pace That Kills (1928).[1]


Small-town girl Jane Bradford (Lois January) falls for Nick (Noel Madison), a guy from the big city who offers her the opportunity to get away from her small-town life. He also offers her "headache powder" that she is unaware is really cocaine--and that Nick is a drug dealer. By the time they get to the city, she is hooked on her new medicine. Jane's brother Eddie (Dean Benton) goes to the city to look for her, after he and their mother don't hear from her for over a year.

Eddie gets a job as a drive-in carhop and is befriended by waitress Fanny (Sheila Bromley). Fanny is one of Nick's customers, and Fanny soon gets Eddie hooked on the "headache powder." This vice soon sends Eddie's and Fanny's lives downhill: they're both fired and unable to find new jobs. On the periphery of both Eddie and Jane's lives is Dorothy Farley (Lois Lindsay), a customer at the drive-in. Dorothy, dating Dan, comes from a wealthy family and throws her money around easily, and she is willing to financially assist those in need.


  • Lois January as Jane Bradford aka Lil
  • Noel Madison as Nick - The Pusher
  • Sheila Bromley as Fanny
  • Dean Benton as Eddie Bradford
  • Lois Lindsay as Dorothy Farley
  • Charles Delaney as Dan - the Detective - Dorothy's Boyfriend
  • Eddie Phillips as Manager of Dead Rat Club
  • Frank Shannon as Mr. Farley
  • Fay Holden as Madame / Henchwoman
  • Maury Peck as Himself - Master of Ceremonies
  • Nona Lee as Herself - Vocalist
  • Gay Sheridan as Dorothy's Friend
  • Frank Collins as Himself - Singing Waiter

Preservation status[edit]

  • A copy is preserved in the Library of Congress collection.[2]


Typical of the other films that Willis Kent produced during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s was a string of low-budget westerns and exploitation films, thinly disguised as cautionary tales. The plot also dealt with amorality and prostitution.[3] Production began November 9, 1935.[1]


Nona Lee singing "All I Want Is You"
  • Nona Lee - "All I Want Is You"
  • Frank Collins - "Towsee Mongalay" (Written by Grahame Jones)[4]


The Pace That Kills was released without a Code seal from the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) and distributed via "State Rights" where local sales agents would then sell rights to individual theaters. The theater operators would then play the film as often as they desired in an attempt to make as much profit as possible.[5] The Pace That Kills was re-issued in 1937 as The Cocaine Fiends.[1]

Re-use of footage[edit]

Footage from the film, including the song "All I Want Is You," was re-used in Confessions of a Vice Baron (1943).



  1. ^ a b c "Detail: 'The Pace That Kills'." AFI. Retrieved: May 18, 2016.
  2. ^ Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, (<-book title) p.135 c.1978 by The American Film Institute
  3. ^ Cripps 1996, p. 77.
  4. ^ ""Towsee Mongalay." Charles Templeton Sheet Music Collection, Mississippi State University Libraries. Retrieved: May 18, 2016.
  5. ^ Hall and Neale 2010, p. 24.


  • Cripps, Thomas. Hollywood's High Noon: Moviemaking and Society Before Television. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-8018-5315-9.
  • Hall, Sheldon and Stephen Neale, Epics, Spectacles, and Blockbusters: A Hollywood History. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8143-3008-1.

External links[edit]