The Whistler (1944)

Article 2279 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-19-2007
Posting Date: 11-8-2007
Directed by William Castle
Featuring Richard Dix, Gloria Stuart, J. Carrol Naish

A businessman, depressed at having lost his wife in a boating accident, pays to have himself knocked off by a hit man. However, he changes his mind when he discovers his wife is still alive. Unfortunately, the man who served as a go-between between him and the hit man (who have not met) has died in a police shootout, and he has no way of getting in touch with him.

This is the first of Columbia’s “The Whistler” series, and, like so many of the others, the sole fantastic content is the Whistler himself, who narrates this tale of destiny. The movie is slightly less marginal in its fantastic content in that his presence at one point is felt by the characters, but this doesn’t develop into anything more. The plot set-up is great, it’s full of interesting characters and good performances (with J. Carrol Naish particularly effective as the hit man, who tries to see if he can actually scare his prey to death). However, it’s one of those stories that you don’t want to examine to closely afterwards, as the holes start to appear before your eyes. Nonetheless, this is a very enjoyable entry in the series, and keep your eyes for an effective little performance from Bowery Boy Billy Benedict as a deafmute.



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