The Flaming Urge (1953)
Released in 1953: An arsonist is burning down homes in a small town, and it looks like it may be the new man in town.
Directed by Harold Ericson
Written by Harold Ericson and Ray Pierson
The Actors: Harold Lloyd Jr. (Tom Smith), Cathy Downs (Charlotte Cruickshank), Byron Foulger (A. Horace Pender), Jonathan Hale (Mr. Chalmers), Bob Hughes (Frank), Florence Lake (Mrs. Binger), Herbert Rawlinson (Herb, the fire chief), Pierre Watkin (Albert Cruickshank), Barbara Woodell (Mrs. Cruickshank), Johnny Duncan (Ralph Jarvis), Larry Barton (used car salesman)
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I am confident that no one in the Academy ever considered this movie for an Academy Award . . . in fact, I'm betting that not that many people paid good money to watch this one when it was released in 1953, but I enjoyed it, and can give you several reasons why you might enjoy it. The first reason I enjoyed this one was the fame of the actors. Of course, the name Harold Lloyd Jr. snaps the mind to attention. Harold Lloyd was one of the premier comedians of the silent movie era. His son only acted in 9 movies, all stinkers. He was an alcoholic that died at the young age of 40. Then there is Byron Foulger - born in 1899 in Ogden, Utah, Byron performed on Broadway and then in Hollywood. He appeared in 463 movies and television shows, more than many of the more familiar Hollywood names. He plays the H.R. person in the small department store that Tom works at. Then there is Jonathan Hale, who plays the department store boss. He was in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps before becoming an actor, and usually played authority roles. I remember him as J.C. Dithers, Dagwood's boss in the Blondie and Dagwood movies. The other motivation I had to watch all of this movie is the atmosphere. As an old fart that grew up in small town America during the 1950's, this movie looks and sounds like my childhood. While the acting isn't as dynamic as the riveting performances by the greatest actors, it is a 'real' look at life in a small town. It plays more like an educational movie we would have seen in school in the 1950's than a white-knuckle movie thriller. If you need a movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat today, this isn't it. If you need a movie that will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter, this is not the one for you. But if you want to see a nice, small-town movie about nice, small-town people with some notable actors, I think you might enjoy this peek into real 1953 small-town America. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter on it and enjoy the show.