According to the title cards a primrose path is a path that someone takes towards temptation. I can tell you that there is nothing very tempting in The Primrose Path that makes it really worth watching.
A young man named Bruce Armstrong comes from what seems to be a wealthy family. He wastes his life gambling, drinking and partying. He apparently got so drunk one time that he seriously hurt his young brother Jimmy to the point where the kid has to walk with a leg brace. Despite that injury Bruce’s mother and brother love him and the family has become even closer because of the injury. As much as Bruce is a jerk Jimmy sticks up and covers for his brother after he trips him for no apparent reason. Bruce feels terrible and confesses to his mother that he has no idea why Jimmy sticks up for him (*great guy I would want him for an older brother let me tell you*).
A phone call comes in for Bruce from a girl named Marilyn Merrill (Clara Bow). Marilyn dances at a popular club and she tells him not to come to the show that night. He ignores her request and replies that he will be there no matter what. Before he leaves his mother pleads with him not to stay out too late.
Bruce gambles with Tom, the owner of the club, and a guy called Big Joe Snead. Tom owes Tom and Snead a lot of money. Bruce constantly passes bad checks and he has no other way to pay them. Tom comes up with a plan to have Bruce meet a man named Talbot at a dock. At the dock Bruce with exchange canes with Talbot. The canes are full of smuggled diamonds. If Bruce takes this job all his debts will be forgiven. He struggles with the idea he does not want to be a part of their smuggling operation but he does not have the money to pay them off. He decides to take the job. Marilyn hears what is happening and she is afraid Bruce will get hurt.
Things happen that I cannot remember even though I somewhat wrote them down. A guy named Parker (I think that is who it is) intercedes the transfer and takes the diamonds back to Tom himself instead of Bruce getting them. Parker wants a cut but Tom lets him know that his cut will be Marilyn. Parker gets pissed and punches Tom sending him landing on a fireplace. Tom dies. Parker climbs out of the window and passes Snead. He tells Snead that Bruce has the diamonds. Bruce was in the room when everything happened. He is in such shock that he cannot move himself out of the room. Marilyn’s dressing room is on the other side of a second door in the room. She opens it and pulls Bruce into her room just before two other guys (possibly detectives I don’t know) come in to find the murderer.
Snead wants the diamonds. Thinking that Bruce has them Snead goes to Bruce’s house. The two men get into a fight that winds up outside on the sidewalk. Snead was about to bash Bruce against the sidewalk when Bruce takes out a gun and fires. Snead is killed. Jimmy sees everything and goes to the mother to tell him everything he saw. Bruce is arrested for Snead’s murder. At the trial Bruce’s lawyer tells him that he will not go to jail because there are too many versions of the story and no witnesses. Well, the dumb lawyer was wrong there was a witness in the form of a cab driver that pulled up just as Brue shot Snead. The cab driver also blows everything to pieces when he tells the court that Jimmy was at the door an saw everything. The lawyers argue about having Jimmy come up to testify but they get the kid to come up. Jimmy is a boy scout and promises to swear an oath. Before he can even tell his story Jimmy becomes upset about what he will be made to say about his older brother whom he adores. Bruce will not let his brother carry the guilt of sending him to the electric chair for the rest of his life so he confesses himself that he killed Snead.
In a nice lovely twist of fate the guy Talbot is picked up and he tells the District Attorney everything that happened with the diamonds. And because of Talbot’s story Bruce is let out of jail and back to his family.
Blah how boring. I had no idea what The Primrose Path was about. I do not think it would have even mattered because it sounded interesting when I read the little summary of it on IMDB. But the story is so boring and typical. You know that by the end of the film Bruce is going to reform and be home with Marilyn and family. You know that Bruce is truly innocent in the whole scheme of things. I watched this film to see Clara Bow. I have yet to see her in a role that makes people believe she is such an icon. From her films I have seen I do not understand why she is such an icon both as a 1920s woman and in film. I will confess though that I have quite a few of Bow’s films to sit through and I do not know that much about her. I like Bow I will watch more of her films in the future. The Primrose Path is only worth watching if you really like Clara Bow otherwise skip it.