His First Flame
Cast & Crew
Unaware that his fiancée, Ethel Morgan, loves him only for his money, naïve, bumbling Harry Howells delivers an impassioned speech on the sanctity of women at his college graduation. Later, Harry visits his woman-hating uncle, Amos McCarthy, a fire chief and three-time marital loser. The ever suspicious Amos warns Harry that Ethel is most likely a gold digger, and Harry agrees to think over his marriage plans while giving Amos the flowers and candy that he had bought for Ethel. After a bemused Harry leaves the fire station, Amos sees Ethel's name on a card accompanying the flowers and telephones her. Amos informs Ethel that Harry has no money, and Ethel promptly burns Harry's photograph. Soon Harry, loaded down with new flowers and another box of candy, sets out for Ethel's. On the way, Harry accidentally demolishes the flowers and throws the candy out of a taxicab window. While trying to retrieve the candy, Harry then loses Ethel's engagement ring, as he is accosted by Hector Benedict, an old friend. Eventually Hector finds the ring in his pants' cuff and, eager to demonstrate to Harry the meaning of marital bliss, invites him to his home. There Harry meets Hector's domineering wife and witnesses a series of brawls between the battle-loving couple. After leaving the Benedicts', Harry bumps into two fleeing shoplifters, who are disguised as a married couple with a baby carriage. Confused, Harry runs alongside the woman, who eventually knocks him out and exchanges clothes with him. Still wearing the shoplifter's dress, Harry hitches a ride to the fire station, where Amos insists that he don a pair of too-big fireman's pants. Just then, the fire alarm sounds, and Amos and Harry make their way to a burning apartment building. Eventually Harry realizes that Ethel is trapped in the building, but by the time he reaches her second-story window, Amos has already rescued her. Taken with her rescuer, Ethel kisses Amos and, as a heartbroken Harry watches, rides off with him. Mary, Ethel's kindhearted sister who has always secretly loved Harry, also witnesses Ethel's betrayal and starts her own fire to boost his morale. In spite of his bumbling, Harry "rescues" Mary and, in the process, discovers his first, true flame.
Although not released until May 1927, this film, which was Harry Langdon's first feature effort for Mack Sennett, was shot in the spring of 1925. According to a May 16, 1925 Moving Picture World news item, Langdon and his director, Harry Edwards, stopped production on a short film, Remember When?, "many weeks ago" in order to begin shooting His First Flame. The same news item states that "the greater part of the story was suggested by the comedian himself, from indicents recalled during the days when he was trouping." In addition, the article claims that His First Flame and Remember When? used "the same technical staff and cast with the possible exception of one girl, Ruth Hiatt." A May 30, 1925 Moving Picture World news item announced that filming on His First Flame had just been completed.
Modern sources list the running time as 70 min., but the film was released in two versions, one of five or six reels and the other three reels in length. Modern sources also note that the cast included Christian Frank, and that although the picture was shot over eighteen months earlier, while Langdon was still under contract to Sennett, the producer delayed its release until the star left the studio and became successful with his own unit at First National. At the time of the first theatrical showing of His First Flame, Sennett was anxious to capitalize on Langdon's popularity and not only re-released some of the star's shorts, but also distributed some previously unreleased Langdon films.