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The Flaming Urge (1953)

 |  Crime, Drama
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A small town is victimized by many unexplained fires.



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Complete credited cast:
Harold Lloyd Jr. ...
Tom Smith
Cathy Downs ...
Charlotte Cruickshank
Byron Foulger ...
A. Horace Pender
Jonathan Hale ...
Mr. Chalmers
Bob Hughes ...
Florence Lake ...
Mrs. Binger
Herbert Rawlinson ...
Herb, fire chief
Pierre Watkin ...
Albert Cruickshank
Barbara Woodell ...
Mrs. Cruickshank
Johnny Duncan ...
Ralph Jarvis
Larry Barton ...
The Used Car Salesman


A small town is victimized by many unexplained fires.

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Crime | Drama





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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

No joke without fire
23 July 2010 | by (London) – See all my reviews

FLAMING URGE is, in its way a remarkable film by one time director-writer Harold Ericson which ought to be better known. It concerns the arrival in a small town of Tom Smith (Harold Lloyd, Jnr). Tom has a problem - he is irresistibly attracted to fires and compulsively chases every fire engine which is en route to a blaze. He has chosen this town as the level of fire incidents is the smallest on record that he can discover, in order to help himself overcome his pyrophilia. Tom finds himself a job in a local store with an understanding boss, but soon discovers that the number of fires locally is suddenly increasing and, despite his protests, he becomes chief suspect as the local arsonist...

A pleasant and curious enough film about an unusual fetish on first viewing, it is only when one discovers (as other reviewers here note) that 'flaming' is homosexual slang for quick arousal/or 'flaunting effeminate traits' that the real sociological interest emerges. In real life Harold LLoyd Jnr was the great comedian's gay, alcoholic son who died early at age 40, victim of his life style. In manner and speech in this, one of his few starring vehicles, he reminds one of his famous father, albeit without the signature glasses. Thus FLAMING URGE's early comic scenes in the drapery store where the young man works, recall the elder LLoyd's work in the first half of SAFETY LAST, even to the point of a couple of sly, specific visual references to the older comedy. Lloyd snr of course was straight; some of the impact of FLAMING URGE is an implied gay deconstruction of a famous screen persona - one wonders what dad said when he saw it.

In short, a fun film with substantial gay coding throughout - right down to the good deal of banter situated around the tie counter (at one point the star creates a gigantic bow tie, by way of marketing) and play on pencils. Tom's 'problem' is treated with a calmness and respect for difference throughout - miles away from the sniggering and caricature with which it might have been received elsewhere. And while the film necessarily ends with a heterosexual wedding, it proves unconvincing. FLAMING URGE can be recommended, especially to those who like lesser known gay/camp classics such as TURNABOUT.

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