Voice of the Whistler (1945)

Article #1248 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-14-2004
Posting Date: 1-11-2005
Directed by William Castle
Featuring Richard Dix, Lynn Merrick, Rhys Wiliams

When a lonely, dying millionaire passes out in a cab, the cabbie takes care of him and urges him to change his suspicious nature and distrustful ways.

One of the books that I use as a reference to choose movies for this series claims that in this movie, hypnotism is used to cause someone to commit murder. If they thought so, it’s no surprise they included it; however, there’s no hypnotism at work in this movie, though we do have a man who is tempted into a murder by another man’s suggestion. In truth, the only fantastic elements in this movie are the existence of the Whistler, that strange, shadowy character who sees all, knows all and tells all (though in a purely passive sense – in other words, he plays no role other than that of narrator) and a certain horror atmosphere towards the end of the movie. In short, this movie is another false lead.

On its own terms, I found it quite engrossing, though not necessarily in terms of its murder story; If considered merely in that aspect, the movie takes far too long to get going (which is why my plot description doesn’t touch on it at all). No, it’s the human drama and the themes that made it interesting for me; it deals with loneliness and how it is bred by distrust, and how distrust arises from having to cope with fame or riches and consequently not being able to tell a true friend from a false one. It’s handled somewhat simplistically, but I found it engaging nonetheless. In fact, I was even a little disappointed when the movie does turn into a murder story in the latter part of the movie, since it is somewhat at odds with the rest of it. Of course, I can’t say that I’m surprised; if murder weren’t involved, this wouldn’t be a Whistler movie. Still, the murder setup is rather clever, and the ending is quite sad. Ultimately, I must admit I really enjoyed the movie, even if I don’t think it quite works as a whole.

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