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Face of Fire (1959)

A local handyman saves a child in a fire, but the burns he receives disfigure his face so much that the townspeople avoid him.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ned Trescott
...
Monk Johnson
...
Grace Trescott
Miko Oscard ...
Jimmie Trescott
...
Jake Winter
...
The Judge (as Robert Simon)
...
Al Williams
...
Sheriff Nolan
...
Ethel Winter
Jill Donohue ...
Bella Kovac
Harold Kasket ...
Reifsnyder, the barber
Althea Orr ...
(as Aletha Orr)
Charles Fawcett
Vernon Young
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Storyline

In 1898, in a small American town, Dr. Ned Trescott and his family live a quiet life. The family employs Monk Johnson as a handyman who also spends time with Dr. Trescott's son, Jimmie and is considered part of the family. Monk and Jimmie enjoy going fishing. Monk's fiancée, Bella, plans to marry him.One day, Monk goes to Bella's house to propose and she accepts. On his way back home, Monk hears clanging fire bells shattering the calm evening and sees the townspeople gathering at the Trescott house which is ablaze. Dr. Trescott and his wife are safe but their son is trapped inside the burning house. Monk runs inside the burning house and fetches Jimmie. But the flames block their exits and Monk must find an alternative escape route through Dr. Trescott's homemade basement lab. In the lab, Monk stumbles and falls. Chemicals on a table explode burning Monk's face. Dr. Trescott rushes into the basement lab through the back door and grabs Jimmie. Firemen save Monk but his face is badly ... Written by nufs68

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son | handyman | fire | pariah | child | See All (76) »

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Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

9 August 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Face of the Fire  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Trivia

Stage and television actress Bettye Ackerman made her motion picture debut in this film. See more »

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User Reviews

 
a little-known gem
3 July 2005 | by (Olympia, Washington) – See all my reviews

Over the past three decades, numerous quirky little movies that were personal favorites of mine have moved out of the realm of near-unknowns and entered into the public domain of enlarged popularity with a growing number of cinema students and film buffs. Although I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, I feel a slight pang of grief whenever the "secret" gets out about one of these movies, because they had previously "belonged" to only a select few of us. Some hard-core movie lovers do suffer at times from a little elitism or possessive snobbery...

Some of these movies that are now more widely appreciated were always great films with a strong cult following--Carl Dreyer's 1928 silent "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc," for instance, or Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker." Many others were B-movies made with minuscule budgets and ridiculously short shooting schedules, such as Edgar G. Ulmer's 4-day noir classic "Detour," or the creepy horror of "Carnival of Souls," shot near Lawrence, Kansas.

"Face of Fire" falls into the latter category and remains firmly embedded in my shrinking list of almost-unknown faves. I saw it only once on TV almost 40 years ago, but somehow it has fallen through the cracks, rarely if ever broadcast and still not available on VHS or DVD.

This very brief (79 min.) slice of rural Americana, based on a Stephen Crane short story-- with its disturbing trajectory and sad revelations about human nature, yet still uplifting in its final outlook--was shot in Sweden with an ensemble cast of stalwart and steadily-working American character actors, many of whom were instantly recognizable from 1950s television and movies.

My memory of the movie is sketchy at best (I was 15 when I saw it), and I wouldn't then have put it in the pantheon of great films, but it nonetheless affected me deeply with its insights into unconscious, small-minded human cruelty and the compensations that may be granted to a still-gentle soul. The final scene looking down a country road was evocative of a mythic America that has largely vanished, and that particular shot has stayed with me for four decades.

"Face of Fire" is very much worth seeing, should you have the chance.


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