Whistling in the Dark (1941)

Article 1901 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-29-2006
Posting Date: 10-26-2006
Directed by S. Sylvan Simon
Featuring Red Skelton, Conrad Veidt, Ann Rutherford

Whan a moon worship cult discovers that it may lose an inheritance to an unexpected nephew of one of its members, it decides to murder the nephew. In order to avoid drawing the police to its activities, it decides that the murder must be fullproof. They kidnap a radio personality who specializes in clever crime stories to write a scenario for the perfect murder.

Fantastic content: The horror content in this mystery/comedy consists of some horror touches, particularly during a sequence when the prisoners of the cult try to make their escape via a secret passage in their room to a place filled with mummies and Egyptian artifacts.

I’ve always found Red Skelton to be likable and charming, though I rarely find myself laughing as much as I would with other comedians. This is one of his early comedies, and the first of a series of three where he plays a radio entertainer known as “The Fox”. I didn’t find it extremely funny, but it was quite spirited, and the story is very clever at times. I was surprised to see Conrad Veidt in the cast, as I usually don’t see him as someone playing the heavy in comedies, but his presence adds a sense of danger to the proceedings. Probably having the most fun with Red is former boxer Rags Ragland as the strong-arm man and chauffeur of the cult, and he has a lot of fun during the best scene in the movie, in which Red and the other prisoners try to juryrig a radio to use it in lieu of a telephone to call for help, and they convince Sylvester (Ragland’s character) that they’re just rehearsing for a new show and get him to reveal important information over the airwaves.


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