The setting: a gas station in the middle of a sweltering desiccated nowhere. The women: Olga, a wary, weathered loner with a knack for fixing cars, and Myra, her pretty kid sister who dishes up diner chow and dreams of romance.
The setting: a gas station in the middle of a sweltering, desiccated nowhere. The women: Olga (Aline MacMahon), a wary, weathered loner with a knack for fixing cars, and Myra (Ann Dvorak), her pretty kid sister who dishes up diner chow and dreams of romance. The film: Heat Lightning, an edgy, femme prenoir that turns incendiary when visitors arrive - two bejeweled divorcees and Olga's old love, a killer on the lam. Guiding a cast that also includes Preston Foster, Lyle Talbot, Glenda Farrell, Ruth Donnelly, Frank McHugh and Jane Darwell, Mervyn LeRoy (I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang) ramps up pre-Code wisecracking and vise-like tension into an emotional wallop of an ending.
An interesting precursor to such films as THE PETRIFIED FOREST and BUS STOP, HEAT LIGHTNING takes place in a remote California-desert gas station-café. Several strange characters pass through the establishment's portals during one fateful 24-hour period, including cad-and-bounder George (Preston S. Foster). Resourceful proprietress Olga (Aline MacMahon) tries to remain detached throughout but is forced to take drastic action when George threatens to seduce and abandon her own sister Myra (Ann Dvorak). Glenda Farrell, one of Warners' most reliable players, is surprisingly wasted in a glorified bit role; even further down the cast list as "Husband and Wife" are 2-reel comedy star Edgar Kennedy and future Oscar winner Jane Darwell (talk about an odd couple!) HEAT LIGHTNING was based on a stage play co-scripted by George Abbott.
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