Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Flaming Urge|
Actors: Harold Lloyd Jr., Cathy Downs, Byron Foulger, Jonathan Hale, Bob Hughes
Director: Harold Ericson
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
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Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY
Reviewed on 5/8/2011...
After a middle-aged narrator opens the movie with a stern admonition to not judge by appearances alone, the 20-year-old main character, Tom Smith (Harold Lloyd, Jr.) pipes up with his voice-over. He says of himself, “I never seem to have a choice.” He is a pyrophiliac, or in the expression used by the fire-chasers themselves, a sparker – a person who derives gratification from burning buildings and the action of putting fires out. Compelled to chase fires whenever he hears sirens, he describes the condition as a curse since fire-chasing interferes with work and social life.
But wait a minute. His clothes are especially neat. He wears flamboyant bowties – so remarkable that an older man doodles them. He has a flair for design and uses fabric creatively. His manners are very smooth and polished. He fawns over dogs, almost embarrassing them. He gets along swimmingly with older women. He doesn’t pick up that young women are interested in him. He is awkward with the guys in the pool hall. His compulsion has forced him to move from town to town. An older man – the doodler – recognizes a kindred soul and together they indulge their impulses to rush to fires. Hey, fry me for an oyster – this movie is about what they called in the Fifties “The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name.”
The film is worth watching for the reaction of the townspeople to Tom's , uh, flaming urge. When people find out, they feel only mildly nonplussed and want to help him with advice. The older women, of course, want to fix him up with a girlfriend. The would-be girlfriend (Cathy Downs, hubba hubba) seeks suggestions to help Tom from a psych major who works in a stockroom. He says responsibility – i.e., marriage between a man and a woman – usually breaks the hold compulsive fancies exert over the sensitive and shilly-shallying.
Other touches make this forgotten movie worth seeking out. It was shot in Monroe, Michigan, which can’t get more authentically small town (Toledo is the next stop of the bus that drops him off, another genuine touch). The townspeople are types: the motherly middle-aged women, the gruff older men, the boisterous guys, the jaunty suitors that Edith Wharton would name Bunty Hayes, the smart girls that want to get the hell out of town before it buries them.
All in all, a movie worth watching for its treatment of a topic from which Hollywood usually stayed away.
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