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Sort of a mix between 'The Front Page' and 'Backdraft', 'Night Alarm' focuses on a reporter trying to break away from the gardening desk, to scoop a story about a series of Fires happening around the city. He blames it all on the big industrialist in the town who's got the mayor and the police captain in his back pocket. Things get even more interesting when the cute girl they've hired to replace him in the gardening beat is actually the industrialist's daughter. As the plot unravels, and more fires ensue, you can just imagine how the movie ends, with the industrialist's daughter being caught in a fire! Someone has to rescue her! And that's exactly how it ends! Bruce Cabot is alright here, as the curiously named lead character, Hal Ashby. I mean, how priceless is that? I'm not sure if Mr. Ashby was doing movies at the time, but that's quite funny. Worth seeing for that alone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By the humble standards of the vintage "B" movie, this is really a wonderful piece of work with fluid direction from action specialist Spencer Gordon Bennett, plus an often amusing, often thrilling action-packed plot laced with clever dialogue and outstanding performances, particularly from principals Bruce Cabot, Judith Allen, H.B. Warner and Sam Hardy though even minor roles like the blustering mayor (Harry Holman) and the night club comedian (Fuzzy Knight doing his piano specialty act) are solidly cast. Actual fire footage cleverly cut into the movie by ace editor Dwight Caldwell is mighty hard to distinguish from the staged movie material and this is how it should be! Larry Darmour, the producer of the Mickey McGuire shorts, has outdone himself here with this absolutely first-rate "B" feature.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Newshound Hal reckons he's made for better things than the paper's gardening column, especially when his recommendation of arsenic for greenfly kills a reader's pet pooch. Whilst arguing with the editor to be put on the pyromaniac's page (a series of unexplained fires is rapidly reducing the city to ashes) the beautiful Helen (Judith Allen) comes in looking for a job. As she knows about gardening, she gets the column and Hal goes chasing fire engines - cue some impressive stock footage of American cities being incinerated. The fire chief hints that there is corruption in high places resulting in fire safety rules not being enforced. Not least, Henry Smith owns a paper factory, a bank with leases on all the city properties, and runs the businessmen's association which elects the mayor. This leads to a dinner party at Mr Smith's house for his daughter Helen, and the pompous young man he wants her to marry. She manages to escape, feigning a newsroom emergency, and goes out with Hal. The end up in a night club where she is wearing a full length, slinky gold lamé gown, most revealing cut away on the bust. The film is worth watching for the gown alone, though heaven knows how it got past the Hays Code. There is then a bizarre pause for a comedy pianist cabaret act. When Hal writes a piece implying that there is something rotten in the city and pointing the finger at Smith, Helen storms out and goes to work for her father. Hal meanwhile follows up on some leads he has previously been given, and unearths the arsonist, who has just set fire to the paper factory during the management's party for the staff. Helen gets caught in the inferno and is rescued by Hal: Happy Ending, with arsonist apprehended. Great if you like fire engines, burning buildings and revealing dresses.
Considering that it's produced by Majestic Pictures, I sure expected
this to be an awful little B-movie. However, to my surprise, I thought,
for a B, it was pretty watchable.
The film stars Bruce Cabot--a guy usually known as a supporting actor or a heavy. Here he plays a newspaper reporter who is sick of having to do a gardening column! He knows nothing about it and can't wait to start covering important stories--such as a recent spate of arsons. The plot is pretty cute at times and the finale involving the fire is amazing good owing to the fact that the usual budget for a Majestic film was $47! All in all, interesting and more than just a minor time-passer--much of this due to Cabot's excellent acting and presence. Worth seeing--particularly as it is downloadable for free from the IMDb link!
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