Collection Spotlight: Heat Lightning Lobby Cards

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 3

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.

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I have been collecting Ann Dvorak memorabilia for around 15 years, and usually limit myself to photos and posters with Ann on them. However, when it comes to Heat Lightning, I’ll take anything and everything, so I was jazzed when I acquired a few lobby cards from the film, even though Ann is only on two of them. At this point, my Dvorak collection is so big that I sometimes don’t even know what I have. A couple of months back I came across of Flame of Barbary Coast 3-sheet, and don’t even remember buying it. That’s right, I own a 41″x81″ poster with John Wayne and Ann Dvorak on it, and have no memory of when/where/how I purchased it.

For other items in my collection I remember exactly when I found them. For instance, the Heat Lightning lobby cards popped up on ebay in July 2005. I was on vacation in London at the time, and remember pathologically and pathetically sitting in an Internet cafe, waiting to see if my auction snipe would yield results. There were six cards listed, and I ended up with five of them, but was outbid on one with Aline MacMahon and Preston Foster. Nearly eight years later, I am still bitter about that.


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Fortunately, Heat Lightning is now readily available for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of the Warner Archive. If you love Ann Dvorak or pre-Code films, it’s not to be missed. Just don’t outbid me on those three lobby cards I don’t have, if they come up on ebay!


  1. artman2112 January 5, 2013

    i too am a big fan of Heat Lightning! fantastic little film, very well acted and directed – and it oozes “WB studio” from first frame to last! Sure would love to have those lobby cards hanging in my house! Aline MacMahon is always a treat, just saw her the other night in “Life Begins” with Loretta Young, hadnt seen that in about 15 years. Quite a heavy little picture, but very well made. i also rewatched Three on a Match just a few weeks ago. my purpose was to locate Patricia Ellis’ uncredited appearance (which i did and posted about it on my blog) but as always happens when i watch that film i was captivated by Ann’s magnificent performance. She was always good but i dont think ever got the chance to sink her teeth into a role like she did in that film.

  2. admin January 6, 2013

    I think A Life of Her Own was one the stronger parts she had, but she’s killed off just as she gets going. She has some moments in I Was an American Spy, but it’s too bad she didn’t have a better studio and director for that one. Heat Lightning is one of my favorite pre-Codes. I’ve probably watched it 20 times and it does not get old.

  3. artman2112 January 6, 2013

    I’ve not seen either of those 2 you metnioned but i think they’re both here waiting for me, lol. i actually have about a dozen of Anns films sitting here waiting for viewing.

    her career at WB reminds me in some ways of Warren William’s experience there as well. they had all the makings of stardom and seemed at one point to be well on their way (and around the same time period too) but the studio just didnt seem to take interest in them beyond a certain point and then just lost interest completely.

    the good stuff never gets old 🙂

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