Crashing Through Danger (September 15, 1938)
Released on September 15, 1938: The lives, loves and danger of men that heroically work on the electric grid in 1938.
Directed by Sam Newfield
Written by Norman Houston.
The Actors: Ray Walker (Torchy), Sally Blane (Ann Foster), Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (Slim), James Bush (Eddie), Guy Usher (Superintendent Carter), Robert Homans (Pop Foster), Syd Saylor (Tom), Dick Curtis (Foreman), Ernie Alexander (one of Carl's friends), Stanley Fields (bit part), Mildred Gover (Ann's maid), Carl Mathews (one of Carl's friends), Margaret McConnell (nurse), Edmund Mortimer (board member), Alexander Schoenberg (Dr. Michaels).
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I live in Niles, Ohio, and a couple of times a year we have a storm, or a car accident that knocks out the electricity for a few hours. It is usually no big deal, just an annoyance to the daily routine. Our little town handles the electricity and while most of the large electric providers in this country have big corporate names, our folks are called The Light Department. In the early days of electricity the only use for it was light bulbs to light the night, and this name goes back to those days. Today lighting the night is becoming the smallest use of electricity, as more and more gadgets and appliances plug into electricity for their power, and we take our electric grid for granted. It has become a utility that we don't even think about very much. But in 1938, when much of the country was still enjoying the first blessings of electricity, and parts of the country did not have electricity to their home yet, the men that kept the power on were mysterious heroes. Just think of the excitement in the audience when they watch a team of three husky men jump into a truck and rush to the street where they have discovered a kite that was stuck on the high wires. Yup, three men and a truck to handle a kite stuck in the wires.
On my daily drive to my day job near Cleveland along route 422, there is a spot where a wire crosses the road high above the pavement, and hanging from that wire are two tennis shoes tied together by the laces that someone flung up just the right way to hang over the wire. They have been there for two years that I know about, and there seems to be no hurry to do anything about it. But in our movie today, Slim loses his life while trying to remove the kite from a high wire. What excitement! What danger! And just wait until that life-threatening 'electrical storm' hits town! Electrical storm? Yup, just a plain old thunder and lightning rain storm, but now with wires running electricity all over town, a regular old rain storm becomes a life-threatening disaster, and everyone at the light company is on call and ready for action! The theater-goers must be on the edge of their seats!
Doesn't sound terribly exciting by today's standards? Probably not. So why should you bother to make a bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn and spend an hour with this flick? Because you'll get to see some marvelous pictures of life in 1938 Los Angeles, and see what excited America way back then. How times have changed! And do you see a flicker of familiarity in the leading lady's face? Can't place it? Sally Blane is the sister of Loretta Young. Sally was born 'Elizabeth Jane Young' but acted under the name of Sally Blane. The family lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, and while mom was riding a train towards home in Salt Lake City, she started giving birth to this movie's star, and the train made an unscheduled stop in Salida, Colorado, where Elizabeth Jane, our leading lady, was born in 1910.