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William Hawks, the new foreman for the Cheney sugar plantation in Hawaii, works day and night at his job, all but ignoring his social and romantic life. Eventually, however, William develops an attachment to Leilani, a local woman, and takes her into his home as his housekeeper and native "wife." After he is called back to San Francisco by Cheney, William meets and falls in love with Cheney's socialite daughter Lucille. Lucille marries William and returns with him to the Hawaiian plantation, displacing Leilani in the process. Soon, Lucille grows bored and restless on the plantation, disgusted by her crude surroundings and irritated by the persistent tropical rains. After she resists the charms of a young native, Lucille's romantic desires are aroused by the arrival of her former fiancé, Chandler Morris, who sails to the island on his yacht. William, seeing Lucille's growing passion for Morris, accuses his rival of betrayal, and a vicious fight ensues. To save Morris from William's beating, Lucille starts a fire in the sugar cane, which threatens the entire crop and plantation. As William directs the fire-fighting operation and does battle with the flames, he falls from his horse and into the smoky inferno. Lucille, seizing her opportunity, escapes with Morris to his yacht, while the still devoted Leilani rescues William from the deadly flames and reunites with her true love.
Whitney De Rahm
Peter Lee Hyun
This film is believed lost. Please check your attic.
The first television showing of this film was on Friday, June 21, 1940 on NBC's televison station W2XBS.
The working title of this film was Cane Fire. Daily Variety reviewed it under that title in December 1933. White Heat was Lois Weber's first "talkie" and the last film she ever directed. The noted silent film director and scenarist died on November 13, 1939. Sources disagree on one plot point. One source states that "Lucille" starts the crop fire to distract "William," enabling her to flee with "Morris," while another says that "Lucille" lights the fire to save "Morris" from "William's" beating. According to Motion Picture Herald, the film's fire sequence was tinted red to "increase the effect." Variety reported that "Hawaiian music, and familiar singing, etc., are dragged into the action intermittently." According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was shot on location in the Hawaiian island of Kauai, and one reviewer noted that the cast was dominated by "native Hawaiians." Other Hollywood Reporter news items add Martin Burton and Lani Kruse, "young Korean of the Clark Gable type," to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. M-G-M "released" the song "Kuala Lullaby" to this production, according to Hollywood Reporter.