The Fire Trap (1935)

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Norman Foster in The Fire Trap
 

Released in 1935: Norman Foster is insurance adjuster Bill Farnsworth, who discovers that his boss in in cahoots with his girlfriend's uncle in an arson for profit racket.

Directed by Burt P. Lynwood

The Actors: Norman Foster (Bill Farnsworth), Evalyn Knapp (Betty Marshall), Sidney Blackmer (Cedric McIntyre), Oscar Apfel (R.A. Rawson), Ben Alexander (Bob Fender), Herbert Corthell (Commodore Brunton), Marie Callahan (secretary), Arthur Housman (Neil, drunk), Jay Wilsey (henchman).

 
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Arson for Fun and Profit

In 1935 actor Norman Foster was 32 years old and had been married to Claudette Colbert for seven years. The 'seven year itch' may have struck one of them, because they were divorced in August of 1935, and he met and started dating Sally Blane, a 25 year old actress with devastating beauty. Two years later they married and remained together until his death in 1976. In 1936, a year after completing this motion picture, actor Norman Foster began directing motion pictures, and before his death he had acted in 50 motion pictures and directed 53 films, and worked during his later years on television as a director and screenwriter. In this disaster thriller Norman Foster is Bill Farnsworth, who works for a fellow that does independent inventories of companies who want to insure their business against fire. He discovers that his boss is providing a phony inspection for a wealthy businessman who is on the verge of bankruptcy. Sidney Blackmer plays the part of his boss, Cedric McIntyre, and together with businessman R.A. Rawson, played by Oscar Apfel, will burn down an empty warehouse to get a million dollars from the insurance company. Of course we need to have a beautiful girl in the mix, so Evalyn Knapp is Betty Marshall, niece of the businessman and the target of Sidney Blackmer's affections. She plays street tag with Norman Foster while he is on the way to a fire, and causes him to crash his car. He grabs her car and leaves her standing by the smoking wreckage of his heap. She chases him for the rest of the movie as he becomes entangled with the arson plotters and finally discovers their game, albeit not in time to prevent a disastrous fire, with scenes of garment workers in the adjacent building fleeing for their lives and encountering locked doors. I'm sure that this scene was intended to bring back memories of the horrible New York City Triangle Shirtwaist factory garment district fire of 1911 that killed 146 workers. But all is not dire . . . pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter drizzled on it and enjoy one of the cutest mutts on the screen, Corky, who plays the part of 'Wag' . . . and this little pooch, like all good dogs, can spot the good guy and the bad guy in an instant.

Ben Alexander and Norman Foster
Ben Alexander and Norman Foster
Ben Alexander as Bob Fender in The Fire Trap
Ben Alexander as Bob Fender in The Fire Trap
Ben Alexander on the phone after checking out the warehouse
Ben Alexander on the phone after checking out the warehouse
Evalyn Knapp in The Fire Trap
Evalyn Knapp in The Fire Trap
Evalyn Knapp and Norman Foster dressed for the fox hunt
Evalyn Knapp and Norman Foster dressed for the fox hunt
Evalyn Knapp and Norman Foster in The Fire Trap
Evalyn Knapp and Norman Foster in The Fire Trap
Evalyn Knapp as Betty Marshall in The Fire Trap, insists that Norman Foster be fired from his job
Evalyn Knapp as Betty Marshall in The Fire Trap, insists that Norman Foster be fired from his job
Evalyn Knapp after runnning Norman Foster off the road
Evalyn Knapp after runnning Norman Foster off the road
Evalyn Knapp calls Norman Foster's boss as Oscar Apfel looks on
Evalyn Knapp calls Norman Foster's boss as Oscar Apfel looks on
Herbert Corthell and Arthur Housman swap stories
Herbert Corthell and Arthur Housman swap stories
Herbert Corthell and Oscar Apfel
Herbert Corthell and Oscar Apfel
Norman Foster saves the little dog's life at the fire
Norman Foster saves the little dog's life at the fire
Norman Foster as Bill Farnsworth in The Fire Trap
Norman Foster as Bill Farnsworth in The Fire Trap
As Evalyn Knapp looks on, Norman Foster realizes that her uncle is involved in arson
As Evalyn Knapp looks on, Norman Foster realizes that her uncle is involved in arson
Norman Foster in The Fire Trap
Norman Foster in The Fire Trap
Norman Foster confronts Evalyn Knapp after she runs him off the road
Norman Foster confronts Evalyn Knapp after she runs him off the road
Norman Foster calls Ben Alexander and asks him to check out the warehouse contents
Norman Foster calls Ben Alexander and asks him to check out the warehouse contents
Oscar Apfel and Evalyn Knapp
Oscar Apfel and Evalyn Knapp
Oscar Apfel talks to Norman Foster
Oscar Apfel talks to Norman Foster
Oscar Apfel and Sidney Blackmer get ready to go out for the evening
Michael Kirk as Tommy
Oscar Apfel and Sidney Blackmer discuss the insurance policy on the warehouse
Oscar Apfel and Sidney Blackmer discuss the insurance policy on the warehouse
Oscar Apfel as R.A. Rawson in The Fire Trap
Oscar Apfel as R.A. Rawson in The Fire Trap
Sidney Blackmer as Cedric McIntyre fires Norman Foster
Sidney Blackmer as Cedric McIntyre fires Norman Foster