Where's That Fire? (1939) Poster

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"Morning Mr. Tonks how's the foot?"
Spondonman1 May 2006
I was there on 11th June 1975 watching this broadcast on TV (and at prime time) for the first time after decades being a lost film. It's so good you can only marvel at the carelessness that must have been involved, Will Hay was one of the most popular British comedians of the time and yet could still be treated with such disdain.

It's another retread of the sublime Oh, Mr. Porter and even used the same sets as Ask a Policeman, this time Hay, Moffat & Marriott are firemen in a ramshackle fire station in rundown Bishop's Wallop. The idea is to modernise things and Hay is also looking for ingredient X to put into his revolutionary foam formula, but a gang of thieves get in the way. The scenes involving moving the station pole have to be the best, relentlessly hilarious and ridiculous stuff and an improvement on a similar scene in Jack's The Boy seven years previously. Climbing the walls of the Tower of London with Percy the horse was another classic bit, the slapstick climax giving way to a breathtaking and poignant exit from the three.

The one-liners between the three are fast and furious, their 6th and last film together - Hay moved on afterwards leaving Moffat & Marriott to sidekick for others. Of course not up to Porter's standards Fire is still a very funny family British pre-War b&w film.
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The Engine That Never Made It!
Spikeopath29 November 2011
Where's That Fire? Is directed by Marcel Varnel and jointly written by Marriott Edgar, Val Guest and J.O.C. Orton. It stars Will Hay, Graham Moffatt, Moore Marriott and Charles Hawtrey.

The little town of Bishop's Wallop is home to a fire brigade, three stoic members of the community, Captain Viking (Hay), Jeremiah Harbottle (Marriott) & Albert (Moffatt). Trouble is is that they are completely inept and their record of putting fires out averages out at 1 in 17! Could Captain Viking's new foam formula save their jobs? Is it time that they got up to date and do away with their horse drawn engine? And is that really a film studio wanting to borrow their engine for a movie? The questions will be answered in chaotic fashion.

Where's That Fire? Would be Will Hay's last film for Gainsborough Pictures, it would also be the last film that the so called "holy trinity of the British studio system" (Hay, Marriott & Moffatt) would work together. Hay was growing tired of the film making process and started to feel that the comedy provided by the three men was formulaic, the material getting weaker by the picture. To that end, the film carries a tinge of sadness about it, while there is no doubt about it, Hay was right about the formula, because this is the little brother of the far superior Ask A Policeman that the trio made the previous year. Yet although it's not the grand comic masterpiece the three of them deserved to go out on, it's still a film chock full of one line zingers, crazy set-pieces and slapstick a go go.

The plot is standard stuff, serving only as a backdrop to the guys bumbling their way thru a number of situations that arise. But it's the execution from the guys that makes Where's That Fire? so much fun. In turn there's a riotous long sequence involving a fireman's pole, where the town inevitably comes to a stand still and chaos reins supreme, a scene where they attempt to put out a fire at a petrol station; only not with water, and the cracking finale that sees our "heroes" at The Tower of London involved in potential robbery and neck deep in Vilking's magic foam. Classic Hay, Moffatt & Marriott fare. Then there is of course the number of comic character interactions that come as part of the script, be it a man with bad foot laid up in bed, or the wonderful appearance of Charles Hawtrey as school swot Woodley (there's something refreshingly funny seeing Woodley getting kicked up the backside), it's simple comedy given a golden touch.

As this was also the first Gainsborough Film to be produced with 20th Century Fox's backing, the budget was a decent one, meaning that props, locations and extras were not in short supply. For example the model of The Tower of London that was used for the film's climax cost 300 guinea's to build, taking its creator, John Thorpe, six months to make. To think they let this motley bunch loose around it! While the antique fire engine used, pulled by Percy the Horse, can be seen as a cousin to Gladstone the shunt engine used in Oh Mr. Porter! (1937). Not only a damn fine comedy, then, but also a picture with good production values. Hay didn't like slapstick, he preferred the oral side of comedy, wisecracking, and he often complained that going into film's turned him into a slapstick comedian. Fact is, is that against his better judgement, and certainly against his plans, he was bloody good at slapstick. Where along with his two sidekicks he made a handful of truly great British comedy movies, Where's That Fire? rests neatly in the middle of that pack. 8/10
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Cornerstone of British Film Comedy
benjamin-lewis22 March 2003
I can't recommend this film more highly, its a classic example of British screen humour in every sense. Out of the whole series of Hay/Moffat/Marriott vehicles this must be the best (tied with Oh Mr Porter).

The scene with the fire station sliding pole stands out as one of the all time greats of cinema comedy history.

The Will Hay movies are now available in the UK for less than 5 pounds each!! Some of the one liners are a bit dated but grab a grandparent to explain them to you!
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Like most of Will Hay's films, it's a lot of silly fun.
MartinHafer21 April 2012
Will Hay, Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt star in yet another incredibly silly but very entertaining film. The trio worked well together for quite a few films and this just might be among their best. As usual, Hay is the lazy and larcenous boss and his two assistants are larcenous, lazy and perhaps stupider. So what do you do with these bumblers? Yep...you put them in control of a local fire station!! Not surprisingly, they don't seem to be able to do anything...except collect paychecks while shirking their jobs. The town council is, not surprisingly, quite upset and threaten to fire them--and Hay is determined to make good. But, their own MANY shortcomings get in the way and the audience is left wondering how they can salvage it all by the final frame. See the film and find out for yourself.

The movie has quite a bit to enjoy--such as the fire pole sequence and the silly beer-soaked ending. Clever and well done--the trio were awfully good in "Where's That Fire?".
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The second best Will hay film.....
grrrr973 December 2006
This film is definitely up there with the best of Mr Hay's films, though I must say Will hay's best films only include Graham Moffet and Moore Marriot.

I'm I big Will Hay fan and for a twenty year old I think that says a lot for the these films. Where's that fire is is one of the very best Will Hay films but I'd say its pipped to the post by Oh Mr Porter which has to be the best but I'd say this is a close second.

It has the funniest scene in any Will Hay film, with the main trio trying to carry a fireman's pole across a busy London street is a simple idea but in this case it's inspired. Watch out for Charles Altrey as the annoying public school boy.

This film is rare I know 80 year old who hasn't seen it since the 40's so it's a crime that it isn't on DVD or in the Will Hay collection. But it's on ebay and other sites so if you look hard enough you'll find it and trust me its well worth the wait.
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One Deeply Impressed Yank Gazing At Some Fragments
theowinthrop29 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have only seen about twenty to twenty five minutes of WHERE'S THAT FIRE? on You Tube, but I will take a risk and say that if the rest of the film is like these chunks of it it must be extremely funny. Will Hay, Moore Marriot, and Graham Moffatt made six films together in the 1930s and 1940s and they are compared by most critics to be easily the equals of the Marx Brothers in the amounts their work generates laughter. Hay always played seedy figures of some authority, who is assisted (or hampered) by his two associates, Marriot (an elderly ruin of a man, who somehow is always sharper than Hay, but still stupid) and Moffatt (a young fat fellow who is not impressed by Hay's authority and who has an intelligent form of insolence).

Apparently there were copy-write problems in the release of WHERE'S THAT FIRE? It was thought to be lost until the 1970s when it was shown on television. The version that seems to be currently on DVD is missing some of the initial scenes that starts the story.

An oil refinery is on fire, and the fire departments for miles around are being called in to put it out. We see all these modern motorized (for 1940) firehouses going out on the call. Finally we see the firehouse of our three heroes. The bell of the alarm has been muffled, and Marriott and Moffatt are playing checkers (and Moffatt is making the mistake of taking Marriott's advice on his moves).

Hay is Captain Viking, the fire chief of the town of Bishop's Wallop. Viking is an working on a foam to combat fire in place of water from hoses. He comes upstairs after another explosion of his concoctions, and then hears the phone ring. He answers and learns that everyone is wondering why they have not answered the alarm. Hay asks how long the alarm has been muffled. Moffatt tells him it has been that way since he had an attack of insomnia a week before and demanded it. The three ready their fire equipment (a steam pumper pulled by a horse, and wear fire department uniforms that look like they date from 1880). They press on to fight the fire - only to find in the end they not only drove fifteen away from the flames that were visible for twenty miles, but that a second fire destroyed the town hall at Bishop's Wallop.

They are given one last chance by the town council, and proceed to try to modernize the firehouse. What follows is a twenty five minute laugh fest (in two parts on You Tube) where Hay, Marriott, and Moffatt struggle with a new fire-pole (to slide down upon). Hay, typically, has put it wrong side up, and they have to take it out of the firehouse to somehow turn it around (or such is their "logic"). As a result they cause a traffic jam outside, destroy the windows of several cars, scratch paint off other cars, destroy the bric-a-brac in a store, and cause a near riot. Also, annoying Hay because of superior brains, young Charles Hawtrey of "Carry On" fame, shows up trying to get them to use Euclidean Mathematics to solve the problem. At one point the pole is tilted sixty degrees across the street, pinning old Marriott in a chair by his belly (a kindly lady asks if she can give him tea - he agrees when she doesn't have any brandy). Eventually first Moffatt and then Hay got into an apartment that may give them a way to pull the pole up out of the street. The apartment is Moffatt's father's (he's in bed with a broken foot). When not eating grapes that are the father's lunch, Moffatt and Hay try to get the pole up alone and can't. Hay calls for assistance. So far it resembles some of the antics of Laurel and Hardy (I'm thinking of TOWED IN THE HOLE) or the Three Stooges(remember Curly trying to use his extra pipe to stop a leak in the bathroom?). Now it turns into an English version of the stateroom scene in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, as twenty men come into the room to pull the pole up out of the street. They succeed - in fact they also pull up Marriott - but they break a glass sun light (Hay tells Moffatt's father to watch the glass now in his bed). They have been stepping fairly frequently on the foot. Now comes the father's doctor who tries to reassure his frantic patient, while taking time for a puff on his pipe. Hays' insane idea was to pull the pole to the roof, turn it around (remember that was the original purpose of all this!), and then go and slowly drop it into place in the firehouse. Great idea except there is nobody on the roof to hold it in place when it is pushed there. It topples over and crashes through the roof of Moffatt's father's apartment.

If you can't see the film soon I urge you to watch the hijinks of the three You Tube sections I am reviewing. Apparently the plot twist is like that of OH MR. PORTER and ASK A POLICEMAN wherein the three idiots manage to somehow outsmart (for want of a better term) gangs of criminals or smugglers. Here the gang steals the antique fire engine in a plot to steal the Crown Jewels. The remainder of the movie (including somehow making the fire horse ride vertically up the side of the Tower of London) must be a pip. All I can say is you will not stop laughing.
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true classic from true genius
stuartdevoy14 November 2006
how this quite brilliant film could have ever been misplaced is astounding but thank the lord it was found, although most people would judge 'oh Mr porter' as will hays finest work (along with Moore Marriott and graham moffats)this is easily on a par with that and 'ask a policeman. Hay apparently disliked working within a team but it was within this team that his finest, and British comedies finest moments were made. it was to be the last time that the hapless trio would work together, which is a great shame, although hay would go on to make more films and his talent and comic timing ranks with the best his future work would never reach such heights. watch the scene with the fIreman's pole, true belly laughs guaranteed.
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Hay, Marriot and Moffatt to the rescue!
bugsmoran2922 May 2015
Not since the 3 Stooges has the silver screen been invaded by three such goofy firemen. This movie is a scream from start to finish. Hay, Marriot and Moffatt man an outdated one-horse fire station in London as they try to hold on to their jobs after missing one too many fires. The scene where the three cause mass confusion when they try to insert a pole inside of their station is one of the finniest comic scenes I have ever seen before in a film. Even the simplest of tasks turn in to a messy madness and mayhem with Will hay leading the charge as the fire captain. It is a shame that this morning brought to a close the film career of this amazing trio of British comedians.
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The Keystone Firemen
bkoganbing6 March 2016
Will Hay with his second banana comics Moore Marriott and Graham Moffatt are the local fire brigade in their area and God only knows why they're put in charge of that rather critical job. The Police Academy British style seems to be where these three have graduated. Or maybe Mack Sennett's Keystone cops have a training school for fireman across the big pond.

Hay is his usual blustering know it all self as his two even dumber assistance go along with whatever he does. Right now he's thinking mere water is out of date for putting out fires. He's experimenting with a new kind of foam to do the job. It had better work because the local council is ready to give the sack to the whole lot of them.

It all works out strangely enough after Hay rents out the horse drawn fire truck they have to 'movie producers' who actually want it as part of an elaborate scheme to steal the crown jewels from the Tower Of London. The surreal last scene is worth seeing this film alone for.

Where's That Fire is still funny after 3/4 of a century has passed.
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