Arson, Inc.
A Screen Guild Release

a.k.a "Firebug Squad"
a.k.a "Three Alarm Fire"

Directed by William Berke
Written by Arthur Caesar & Maurice Tombragel
A William Stephens Production


Released May 4, 1949

 Supplies a good measure of thrills and action; solid production by William Stephens.  Plot shows a metropolitan fire department's arson squad at work, using Los Angeles equipment and streets.  Tale is treated with documentary touch by narration backgrounding action and has been given a swift pace by William Berke's direction.  Story concerns a young fireman who is transferred to the arson squad to work undercover while ferreting out a gang of crooks who mask their thefts behind willful arson.

Robert Lowery delivers capably as the young fireman while Anne Gwynne supplies a good femme touch as his schoolteacher girl friend.


Ms Gwynne's first scene begins @ 5:00 minutes in. This is the entire motion picture

Full Storyline

In Los Angeles, fireman Joe Martin is assigned by the fire chief to the Arson Detail. The chief believes that a recent fur store fire was of suspicious origin and may have been set by the store's owner, Thomas Peyson. Another investigator was killed while inspecting the site, and the file on the incident, which he was carrying, was not found with his body. The chief explains that in recent years, a number of large suspicious fire insurance claims have been paid through an agent named Frederick P. Fender, who may also be involved in unloading the goods supposedly destroyed in the fires.

Joe begins his investigation by visiting Peyson's apartment to talk with him about a fire that occurred there. The Peysons are not home, so Joe talks with their son's baby-sitter Jane (Anne Gwynne), a teacher, until they return. After Joe takes a report on the fire, he offers to drive Jane home, and they make a date for the next evening. As soon as they leave, Peyson phones Fender and tells him about Joe's visit. The next morning, Joe goes to see Fender, but is kept waiting as Peyson is with him.

After Peyson leaves by a back door, Joe asks Fender about the Peyson case, but gets nowhere. Fender then tells an associate, Pete, to find out all he can about Joe, as he thinks it might be possible to bribe him. Pete begins to follow Joe, even when he is out with Jane, who lives with her grandmother. One afternoon, Joe, realizing that he is being tailed, goes, in uniform, to an illegal horse betting parlor, where Pete approaches him. After they get to know each other, Pete offers Joe a chance to make some real money.

Later, Joe and Pete are in the bookie joint when a police raid occurs and a photograph of Joe fighting a policeman appears on the front page of a newspaper. As planned, Joe resigns from the fire department, after which Pete invites Jane and him to a party, where Joe meets Fender again. Fender shows a lot of interest in Jane, much to his secretary Betty's displeasure. The next day, Fender hires Joe to drive a car during one of Pete's "jobs," which involves setting a fire at a haberdashery store and using their car to impede the passage of the fire engine. Before the break-in, however, Joe passes the information to Murph, an undercover cop.

At the haberdashery, Joe and Pete load up the store's contents and, after Joe suggests disabling the sprinklers, Pete sets the fire and they drive off. Murph then enters and extinguishes the flames. After they unload the goods, Pete returns with Joe to check their fire and is dismayed to find it extinguished. Murph is still there and is shot by Pete when more police arrive. The police chase after them, but Joe manages to lose them. Fender suspects Betty of having tipped off the police and slaps her, but she denies it.

Fender then asks her to check on Pete by letting him date her, and she and Pete arrange a double date with Joe and Jane. On their way to the Gaucho Club, Joe finally admits to Jane that he is on an undercover assignment for the Fire Department. At the club, Pete and Betty get drunk and Betty begins to ramble on about furs, revealing the address of the warehouse where they are stored. However, while Joe and Jane dance, Betty tells Pete that Fender told her to drop the information about the furs to possibly trap Joe. Later, when Joe drives Pete home and Pete falls asleep, Joe goes through his files and finds the one that belonged to the dead investigator.

As Joe and Jane drive to the warehouse to rendezvous with the police, Pete wakes up, discovers his files have been examined and rushes out. The police are waiting for Joe with the news that they have found no furs. After a detective examines the file Joe took and states that it implicates Pete in the investigator's death, the police leave to arrest him. When Pete then appears holding a gun on Jane, a night watchman reports to Fender on his car phone.

Fender is out driving with Betty and heads for the warehouse at top speed. Joe overpowers Pete and takes the gun, then he and Jane run off. Armed with the night watchman's gun, Pete goes after Joe, setting a fire in the warehouse to trap Joe and Jane. Joe activates a fire alarm and several units race to the scene. Driving at more than a hundred miles per hour to elude a police unit, Fender, meanwhile, fails to slow for a detour and crashes off the road. At the warehouse, Joe captures Pete as the firemen arrive. The rest of the gang is rounded up and Joe and Jane resume their courtship.


Robert Lowery

Anne Gwynne ... Jane Jennings

Marcia Mae Jones

Edward Brophy

Gaylord Pendelton

Lelah Tyler


Arthur Caesar
and Maurice Tombragel
- Writers

William Berke- Director 

William Stephens- Producer

Carl Berger- Cinematographer

Edward Mann- Editor

Red Dunn- Music

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