The Law of Contact

The Last Alarm (June 25, 1940)

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J. Farrell MacDonald in The Last Alarm
 

Released June 25, 1940: (running time 53 minutes) Just as Jim is planning his retirement from the fire department, his friend is killed in an arson fire, and Jim must hunt down his friend's killer.

Directed by William West

The Actors: J. Farrell MacDonald (Jim Hadley), Polly Ann Young (Joan Hadley), Warren Hull (Frank Rogers), George Pembroke (Wendell, antique shop owner), Mary Gordon (Mrs. Hadley), Joel Friedkin (Burt Stafford), Bruce MacFarlane (Police Detective Jack Henderson), Eddie Hart (Police Detective Dick Roberts), Willard Hall (Briggs), Charles Anthony Hughes (Police Lieutenant King), Charles R. Phipps (Stevens, insurance company president), Eddie Kane (Fire Chief), James Coughlin (Cummings), Joe Penner (brush salesman. Joe Penner was the cartoon voice of Elmer Fudd)

 

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The Pyromaniac, the Retired Fireman, and the God of Fire

The leading man of this adventure is Joseph Farrell MacDonald, who most often played the part of an Irish cop. He was born in 1875, and attended Yale University where he played football in addition to earning two degrees – a Bachelor of Arts, and a Law Degree. Unfortunately for the courtroom, this was the time that moving pictures were becoming more than a novelty, and MacDonald became a motion picture director for silent movies.

By the time talkies came along he moved in front of the camera, most often as a character actor playing the part of an Irish cop. In this murdering fire-bug adventure he is a retiring fireman in the big city, and he is 65 years old. In real life, he was 65 years old when this movie was filmed. After forty years of work, big Jim Hadley has nothing to do when he gets up the next morning.

When the door-to-door brush salesman rings the doorbell, he almost drags the poor fellow inside and forces him to sit and chat. If you think you might recognize the voice of the salesman, you probably do. Joe Penner, who played the part of the door-to-door salesman, was the inspiration for the famous voice of Egghead, a cartoon character created in 1937, and the Egghead character soon morphed into the character that we remember as Elmer Fudd.

Later that day the retired fireman visits his old fire station, and we soon discover that there is a maniac fire-bug on the loose, setting fires that destroy random buildings all over town. The young firemen and the insurance investigators cannot find any clues that will lead them to the culprit, but once our retired fireman begins snooping around, he becomes a target for the maniac, and his family will be in great danger unless the fire-bug is caught quickly. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn drizzled with plenty of warm melted butter and enjoy the show.

Bruce MacFarlane
Bruce MacFarlane
Bruce MacFarlane
Bruce MacFarlane
Charles Anthony Hughes
Charles Anthony Hughes
Charles R. Phipps
Charles R. Phipps
Eddie Hart and Bruce MacFarlane
Eddie Hart and Bruce MacFarlane
Eddie Kane
Eddie Kane
George Pembroke
George Pembroke
George Pembroke
George Pembroke
George Pembroke
George Pembroke stares at the flame
George Pembroke with the god of fire
George Pembroke with the god of fire
George Pembroke
George Pembroke
J. Farrell MacDonald
J. Farrell MacDonald
J. Farrell MacDonald and Joel Friedkin
J. Farrell MacDonald and Joel Friedkin
J. Farrell MacDonald
J. Farrell MacDonald
Joe Penner and J. Farrell MacDonald
Joe Penner and J. Farrell MacDonald
Joel Friedkin and J. Farrell MacDonald
Joel Friedkin and J. Farrell MacDonald
Mary Gordon
Mary Gordon
Mary Gordon, Polly Ann Young, Warren Hull
Mary Gordon, Polly Ann Young, Warren Hull
Mary Gordon and Polly Ann Young
Mary Gordon and Polly Ann Young
Mary Gordon
Mary Gordon
Polly Ann Young
Polly Ann Young
Polly Ann Young
Polly Ann Young
Polly Ann Young and J. Farrell MacDonald
Polly Ann Young and J. Farrell MacDonald
Polly Ann Young and Warren Hull
Polly Ann Young and Warren Hull
Polly Ann Young
Polly Ann Young
Warren Hull and Polly Ann Young
Warren Hull and Polly Ann Young