Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Ann Dvorak as Myra
Cast: Aline MacMahon, Preston Foster, Lyle Talbot, Glenda Farrell, Ruth Donnelly, Frank McHugh.
I love Los Angeles. It’s been home my entire life and as a fan and researcher of classic Hollywood, there probably isn’t a better place to be. However, there is one great deficiency in my years of living in the City of Angels – I have never seen an Ann Dvorak film at a theater in L.A. The closest I came was around 10 years ago when the American Cinematheque, who programs at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, scheduled a screening of Howard Hawks’ The Crowd Roars from 1932 with Ann, James Cagney, and Joan Blondell. Unfortunately, the theater received a print of the 1938 The Crows Roars with Robert Taylor which we did not find out about until the film rolled and the MGM lion mightily roared, to my extreme disappointment.
Now, this horrible wrong is going to be righted in the best possible way with a screening of Heat Lightning, one of my favorite Ann Dvorak films. This fabulous flick is part of a quadruple “proto-noir” marathon which is closing out the annual Noir City festival presented by the American Cinematheque in collaboration with the Film Noir Foundation at the Egyptian. Also on the bill are The Ninth Guest, Let Us Live, and Safe in Hell, three films I have never seen. All in 35mm!
What could be better than spending an evening watching a favorite Ann Dvorak film in a historic theater full of people? Why, introducing that film of course! That’s right, I’ll be joining Eddie Mueller and Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation in giving an introduction of my beloved Heat Lightning, which makes me giddy beyond belief.
The full line-up is posted on the Cinematheque’s website. Stop by and say hi if you can!
Heat Lightning is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Tuesday September 9th at 7:45am PST.
If you’re not aware of how much I adore Heat Lightning starring Aline MacMahon, Preston Foster, and our Divine Miz Dvorak, then you have not been following this blog very long or often! Even though Ann’s role is relatively small, it’s a great little pre-Code and one of my favorites. It’s even one of the few Ann Dvorak titles that I collect anything of, even if Ann is not pictured on it. You can take a look here to see all the times I have discussed this film previously.
This one is really not to be missed, so check it out if you can!
The Northwest Chicago Film Society will be screening a 35mm print of Heat Lightning at the Patio Theater on Wednesday, June 26 at 8pm. I have sung the praises of Heat Lightning many a time on this site, but have yet to see it on the big screen. This proves to be an exceptional evening, with Margaret Talbot, daughter of Lyle and author of The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century on hand for a discussion and book signing.
If you’re near Chicago and don’t go to this, you’re a fool!
On Thursday, March 7th, the Roxie Theater in San Francisco is going to be presenting a tribute to Ann’s frequent co-star Lyle Talbot, with the double feature Fog Over Frisco and Heat Lightning. Talbot’s daughter Margaret will be on hand to introduce the films and talk about her recently released (and excellent) book, The Entertainer: Movies, Magic, and My Father’s Twentieth Century.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know how much I love Heat Lightning. Ann’s role is supporting, but it’s a strong part, and the film overall is a compact and snappy pre-Code gem. Preston Foster is smarmy, Lyle Talbot is Wimpy, Glenda Farrell & Ruth Donnelly are charming, and Aline MacMahon is just plain awesome. Unfortunately, this one is playing a bit too far out of my zip code, but if you’re in the Bay Area, it sounds like a memorable evening.
When it comes to Ann Dvorak films, Three on a Match is my absolute favorite, with Scarface as a close second. However, right there at the top of the heap is Heat Lightning, a snappy pre-Code starring Aline MacMahon, Preston Foster, and featuring a who’s who of Warner Bros. contract players like Lyle Talbot, Glenda Farrell, Ruth Donnelly, and Frank McHugh.
Heat Lightning is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Monday, July 11th at 12:15pm PST.
This week, the Warner Archive makes my holiday wishes come true by adding Heat Lightning to their ever-growing collection.
As I had mentioned previously, Heat Lightning is one of my favorite Ann Dvorak films. This tale of a pair of sisters running a gas station/rest stop in the middle of nowhere (it was actually filmed in Victorville) whose lives are turned upside down by their bad taste in men is classic Warner Bros Pre-Code cinema. Ann’s role is a supporting one, but her Myra, a restless youth feeling stifled by her surroundings and her protective older sister is one of the more interesting characters Dvorak played during her five years at Warner Bros. Her breakdown scene towards the end of the film is heartbreaking and truly memorable.
Of course the film really belongs to Aline MacMahon. As Olga, she is tough, brassy, and independent, but proves to be just as vulnerable as the rest of us when an old flame (and bad penny) turns up on her doorstep. Aline and Ann work beautifully together and are completely believable as sisters. It’s unfortunate that the only other time they appeared in the same film, 1934’s Side Streets, they were given little screen time together.
Directed by Mervyn Leroy (who was also responsible for Three on a Match) and featuring a strong supporting cast of familiar 1930s faces like Glenda Farrell, Lyle Talbot, Preston Foster, Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly, and Jane Darwell, Heat Lightning is sure to please any Pre-Code fan. Just look at that box art!
This is being advertised as a remastered print, but I am assuming this is the same one that has run on TCM the last couple of years.
Happy Holidays to me. Thanks Warner Archive!
Heat Lightning is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Saturday, March 13th at 10:45pm PST.
Heat Lightning is going to air on Turner Classic Movies on Friday, April 18th at 11:15am EST.
Heat Lightning is one of my favorite Ann Dvorak movies, so I am really excited this little seen pre-code gem is being aired. The tale of two sisters running a gas station/rest-stop in the middle of nowhere was directed by Mervyn Leroy, who brought us the glorious Three on a Match, and costars Aline MacMahon. Ann’s role as Myra is relatively small compared to Aline’s, but it’s more substantial than most of her other 1934 Warner Brothers appearances (Gentlemen Are Born, I Sell Anything), and she has a great meltdown scene towards the end. Filmed on location in Victorville in late November of 1933, the strong supporting cast includes Preston Foster , Warner regulars Glenda Farrell, Lyle Talbot, Ruth Donnelly and Frank McHugh, as well as Jane Darwell and Edgar Kennedy. It’s fantastic.
I don’t know if TCM has ever shown Heat Lightning (my old copy is from a TNT airing), so this is one Ann Dvorak screening not to be missed!