SECRET OF THE WHISTLER (director: George Sherman; screenwriters: Raymond L. Schrock/from the story by Richard H. Landau; cinematographer: Allen Siegler; editor: Dwight Caldwell; music: Wilbur Hatch; cast: Richard Dix (Ralph Harrison), Leslie Brooks (Kay Morrell), Michael Duane (Jim Calhoun), Mary Currier (Edith Harrison), Ray Walker (Joe Conroy), Mona Barrie (Linda Vail), Claire DuBrey (Laura),Charles Trowbridge (Dr. Winthrop, Arthur Space (Dr. Gunther), Jack Davis (Henry Lorin), Otto Forrest (Voice of The Whistler); Runtime: 66; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Rudolph C. Flothow; Columbia Pictures; 1946)
“The series provided quality low-budget noir mystery films, ones that are not in fashion today but still are a good watch.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The Whistler series of eight films by Columbia (this being the sixth) is based on the popular radio program that ran from 1942 to 1955. A disguised figure provides the opening voice-over (Otto Forrest) by stating “I am the Whistler and I know many things.” The series provided quality low-budget noir mystery films, ones that are not in fashion today but still are a good watch. Director George Sherman ((“The Lone Hand”/”Big Jake”/”Against All Flags”)makes things move crisply along in a suspenseful way, but the weak story makes this one of the weaker ones in the series. It’s written byRaymond L. Schrock, who adapts it from the story by Richard H. Landau.
Hack painter Ralph Harrison (Richard Dix) lives a rich lifestyle off his ailing wealthy wife Edith’s (Mary Currier) fortune, and often stylishly entertains his artist friends with parties in his studio. His so-called friends don’t like him, but attend the parties because they like the good food and drinks he serves.
Family doctor, Dr. Winthrop (Charles Trowbridge), informs Ralph that because of Edith’s weak heart she has little time to live, and brings in a specialist (Arthur Space) to treat the bed-ridden Edith with some experimental medicines. Edith, unknown to her hubby after her first heart attack, ordered an expensive marble monument for when she dies. Snooping reporter Joe Conroy (Ray Walker), whose magazine illustrator girlfriend Linda (Mona Barrie) gets him invites to Ralph’s studio bashes, discovers Edith ordered her monument and keeps that in mind as something odd. At the party, Ralph’s phony artist friend Jim (Michael Duane) brings along his stunningly beautiful model Kay (Leslie Brooks) and Ralph makes a play for her. Kay is a gold digger who aims to play the lovesick Ralph as a pigeon. When Edith secretly visits hubby’s studio, she overhears Ralph professing his love for Kay. In a fit of spiteful rage, she tells Ralph what she overheard and calls him out as a cad and hypocrite telling him she is going to cut him off from her will. But Edith’s lawyer (Jack Davis) is not in when she calls him to give him the news and Ralph overhears this call on the downstairs’ phone. Without missing a beat, Ralph poisons his wife and makes her death looks like a heart attack. Soon after Edith’s death, the smarmy Ralph marries Kay. But his bliss is short-lived, for only three months while on a the long honeymoon, as Edith’s loyal housekeeper (Claire DuBrey) suspects Ralph of murdering her boss and has in her possession the poisoned medicine and, for some unfathomable reason, allows the treacherous femme fatale Kay to find Edith’s diary. It leads to a surprise ending, where everyone gets what they deserve.
If scrutinized one will find several flaws in the plot, but it still was mildly interesting as an old-fashioned mystery film programmer.
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2012 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ