15 user 17 critic

Heat Lightning (1934)

Passed | | Crime, Drama | 3 March 1934 (USA)
In the Mohave Desert, Olga runs a gas station, lunch counter, and auto camp with her younger sister Myra. In a 24-hour period, Olga must deal with Myra's desire to go to a town dance with a... See full summary »


Mervyn LeRoy


Leon Abrams (from the original play by), George Abbott (from the original play by) | 2 more credits »


Learn more

More Like This 

Highway West (1941)
Certificate: Passed Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

ClaIre Foster (Brenda Marshall) discovers that her respectable-businessman husband George Foster (Arthur Kennedy) isn't respectable and isn't a businessman, but a gunman in this remake-version of "Heat Lightning".

Director: William C. McGann
Stars: Brenda Marshall, Arthur Kennedy, William Lundigan
Hi, Nellie! (1934)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The managing editor for a newspaper, in hot water with his boss, is demoted to writing the "Nellie Nelson" heart throb column, where he gets the unexpected opportunity to crack a major story.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Ned Sparks
The Threat (1949)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Vicious hood 'Red' Kluger escapes from Folsom State Prison and follows through on his threats to the detective who arrested him and the D.A. who convicted him.

Director: Felix E. Feist
Stars: Michael O'Shea, Virginia Grey, Charles McGraw
Kind Lady (1935)
Thriller | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Mary Herries is a rich woman with a habit of contributing to those less fortunate than her. On her way home from a concert on Christmas Eve she discovers a poor, would-be artist outside her... See full summary »

Director: George B. Seitz
Stars: Aline MacMahon, Basil Rathbone, Mary Carlisle
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

While his wife is urging him to quit the force, a Los Angeles homicide detective hunts for the killer responsible for the murder of his ex-partner, who might have been on the take with local bookies.

Director: Roy Rowland
Stars: Van Johnson, Arlene Dahl, Gloria DeHaven
Side Streets (1934)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A destitute sailor secures a job with a spinster who runs a small fur trimming shop. They marry, and soon have a child, but he cheats on her with serious consequences.

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Aline MacMahon, Paul Kelly, Ann Dvorak
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When the Manhattan investment firm of Sherwood Nash goes broke, he joins forces with his partner Snap and fashion designer Lynn Mason to provide discount shops with cheap copies of Paris couture dresses.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: William Powell, Bette Davis, Frank McHugh
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Jim 'Socker' Conway, former boxer and FBI hero, is maneuvered for political reasons into a do-nothing job in the district attorney's office. Meanwhile, he meets wild debutante Letty Lane, ... See full summary »

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Chester Morris, Frances Mercer, Rita Johnson
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Racketeers flood the market with counterfeit cosmetics and drugs, causing some tragedies.

Director: John Francis Dillon
Stars: Charles Farrell, Bette Davis, Ricardo Cortez
Five and Ten (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

After her businessman father moves her family from Kansas City to New York, a woman falls in love with an engaged man.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Marion Davies, Leslie Howard, Richard Bennett
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Members of a family witness two murders, but the gang uses threats, violence and kidnapping to try to keep the members from testifying.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Walter Huston, Frances Starr, Grant Mitchell
The Sniper (1952)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A sniper kills young brunettes as the police attempt to grapple with the psychology of the unknown assailant.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou, Gerald Mohr


Complete credited cast:
Aline MacMahon ... Olga
Ann Dvorak ... Myra
Preston Foster ... George
Lyle Talbot ... Jeff
Glenda Farrell ... Mrs. Tifton
Frank McHugh ... Frank - the chauffeur
Ruth Donnelly ... Mrs. Ashton-Ashley
Theodore Newton ... Steve Laird
Willard Robertson ... Everett Marshall
Harry C. Bradley ... 'Popsy' - a Businessman
James Durkin ... The Sheriff
Jane Darwell ... Gladys - the Wife
Edgar Kennedy ... Herbert - the Husband
Muriel Evans ... Blonde Cutie


In the Mohave Desert, Olga runs a gas station, lunch counter, and auto camp with her younger sister Myra. In a 24-hour period, Olga must deal with Myra's desire to go to a town dance with a cad, the appearance by happenstance of George, an old boyfriend whose conduct is never above suspicion, and the overnight presence of two women recently divorced in Reno, who, with a chauffeur, are carrying valuable jewels. George gets wind of the jewels and plays with Olga's heartstrings to set up a robbery. Myra arranges to sneak off with her beau. It's hot, and the heat lightening is crackling on the horizon. Is Olga's life of peace and hard work in the desert about to change for the worse? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"I JUST KILLED A RAT!" (original poster-all caps)


Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

3 March 1934 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Heat lightning is a term referring to lightning seen from a thunderstorm that is too far away for the accompanying thunder to be heard. See more »


Frank, the chauffeur, carries a tub of water for one of the rich lady's bath as if it weren't heavy. See more »


George: Want another barbequed sandwich?
Jeff: I can hear the warden ask if I have any last words before they turn on the heat and you ask if I want another barbequed sandwich?
See more »


Version of Highway West (1941) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Women Of The Desert
14 March 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Heat Lightning was an early work by George Abbott, written and directed by him in 1933 it had only a run of 44 performances in that anemic Depression Era season on Broadway. It was not the best work Abbott was ever associated with, but I'm sure he was grateful that Warner Brothers bought the screen rights in those cash strapped times.

It stars Aline McMahon and Ann Dvorak as a pair of sisters running a filling station, automobile camp out in the American west, very similar to the one Bette Davis and her family was running in The Petrified Forest. They're both a bit antsy being stuck out in the desert without the attention of the male of the species. But McMahon's been around the track a little too often and she tries to steer Dvorak right.

The guy who gave her that ride a few times is Preston Foster and he's shown up with pal Lyle Talbot. On the lam as it turns out, but the sisters don't know it. Foster's putting the moves on Dvorak and McMahon ain't having any of that. Truth be told she's got a bit of a yen still left and the desert isolation ain't curing the yen.

Some other characters pop up in this drama, a pair of would be divorcées heading for Reno with their 'chauffeur' played by Glenda Farrell, Ruth Donnelly and Frank McHugh. Also at the beginning Edgar Kennedy and Jane Darwell are a married couple going west. I wish we could have seen more of them. In fact I'm surprised that Jack Warner didn't recognize a good potential comic team there and made more films with them.

As you can see there are a lot of similarities to The Petrified Forest, but I think that even with the tragedies that befall both Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard there, The Petrified Forest is a more optimistic play. Bette Davis does get her chance to leave and see the wider world. Not quite what happens here, but I can't say more.

As compared to some of the legendary work George Abbott was associated with on stage Heat Lightning is definitely minor league. Yet it's not a bad piece of work, definitely in keeping with the times. Mervyn LeRoy did a good job in filling the screen and striking a nice balance between the comic and the dramatic. Very typical of what came from the working man's studio.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 15 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed