Heat Lightning

This terse drama “almost seems at times like a dry run for The Petrified Forest,” as William K. Everson wrote. “Its pervading air of entrapment and futility certainly entitles it to be considered an early and unofficial member of the film noir category.” At a shabby motor camp somewhere in the California desert, romantic Myra (Ann Dvorak) and her older sister Olga (Aline MacMahon), a mechanic as brittle and prickly as the desert trees, tend to the needs of passing tourists. In the course of one oppressive afternoon, the cast of characters—including two gold-digging divorcees and a pair of crooks on the lam—assembles, and by night the social order starts to break apart. The script drew heat from censors who objected to suggestions like “You go your way, we'll go the way of all flesh,” but the existential mood of the piece is better expressed in the line, “You're a good kid—but who cares?”
—Juliet Clark

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