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Heat Lightning [Remaster] (1934)

Aline Macmahon , Ann Dvorak , Mervyn LeRoy  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Aline Macmahon, Ann Dvorak, Preston Foster, Lyle Talbot, Glenda Farrell
  • Directors: Mervyn LeRoy
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: WB
  • DVD Release Date: January 31, 2011
  • Run Time: 63 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004H0M2T6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #285,750 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Heat Lighting" (Warner Brothers) April 19, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A real good, different type of move.
One big reason is, it was filmed (for the most part) on location in the California desert and not in a studio.
MacMahon, Farrell and the reast of the cast did a very job of acting.
The story line was also good.
Very good print and sound.

I enjoyed the film and would recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pre-Code gem January 2, 2014
Format:DVD
In the four years between Will Hays' writing of the Motion Picture Production Code in 1930 and the actual enforcing of it, the major studios instead tried willfully to flout it as much as possible, producing some of the most interesting and exciting films of the Studio Era. This 1934 Warner Brothers film was one of the very last to slip in before the enforcement of the Hays Code, and was actually banned two months after its release by the Catholic League of Decency--and you'll know why when you see it.

Based on a stage play by Leon Abrams and George Abbott that echoes in its mood and setting THE PETRIFIED FOREST, the film does little to move its actors away from their stagebound origins in and before a Mojave Desert rest-stop; fortunately, the director, Mervyn LeRoy, works against this by providing multiple pan shots across the desert, establishing the loneliness and eeriness of the setting. The rest-stop is run by two sisters, played by two of the finest actresses of the time, the emotive and huge-eyed Ann Dvorak, and the intensely likeable Aline MacMahon, for whom the studio treated the film as a big star-making vehicle. In those days, some of the most beloved stars in Hollywood (such as Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler) were of unusual ages or builds, so its not that surprising Warners' should have given this plum to MacMahon (who resembles Fanny Brice), though she rarely again got the kind of role she deserved. Here she's escaped from a bad relationship in Tulsa to raise her much younger sister (Dvorak) and act as the rest-stop's mechanic: the film involves the chance return of her old lover, Preston Foster, who hides from her the fact he's a murderous bank robber on the lam.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heat Lightning September 17, 2011
Format:DVD
I love both Ann Dvorak and Aline MacMahon, but I had never seen her in a starring role. It seemed so improbable that Aline MacMahon was the love interest and former nightclub singer when beautiful Ann Dvorak stood useless in the background. It was a good story with great supporting actors, Glenda Farrell, Preston Foster and Frank McHugh. But, rather disappointing for an Ann Dvorak fan.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellant movie August 18, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
real different type of movie one of the last released before the code was put in effect,Aline Macmahon carrys the movie.I really love this movie
A lot of folks never had a chance to have seen this jem,because of its release
right before the code went into effect, and then was pulled,so it never had a chance till now to gain an audience
give it a try!
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Precursor to Petrified Forest and Bus Stop October 3, 2011
Format:DVD
"Heat Lighning" refers to the faint flashes of lightning that appear (usually on the horizon) and do not have thunder accompanying them. It also refers to this unusual 1934 Mervyn LeRoy film starring Aline MacMahon, Ann Dvorak, and Robert Preston. It was based on a Leon Abrams/George Abbott play of the same name. Abbott (1887-1995) wrote and/or directed such memorable plays as "Twentieth Century" (1932), "Pal Joey" (1940), "On the Town" (1944), "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1951) and won 7 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize.

"Heat Lightning" has many of the plot points of "The Petrified Forest" - a gas station in the middle of nowhere, a girl who wants to experience more, and wanted hoodlums who arrive at the station at the same time as wealthy travelers. Both were based on plays, but "Heat Lightning" is the less well developed of the two.

Ann Dvorak (1911-79) plays a young girl stifled by life working in a gas station in the middle of a desert (think Bette Davis in Petrified Forest). Dvorak started making films in 1916 when she was only 4 years old. She played bit parts until her acquaintance with Howard Hughes launched her career. She signed with Warner Bros. where she made dozens of films, but unhappy with the scripts, she moved to England, but unlike Bette Davis, Dvorak was not lured back.

Aline MacMahon (1899-1991) plays Dvorak's controlling older sister. MacMahon was known for her wise cracking demeanor and was popular in the 30s and 40s and nominated for an Oscar as the Chinese mother of Katherine Hepburn in "Dragon Seed" (1944). This was the first film on which she received top billing.

A very young looking Preston Foster (1900-70) plays MacMahon's former boyfriend and a man on the run.
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