Whistling in the Dark (1933)

aka Scared!
Article 5264 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-6-2016
Directed by Elliott Nugent and Charles Reisner
Featuring Ernest Truex, Una Merkel, Edward Arnold
Country: USA
What it is: Comedy thriller

When a milquetoast crime writer’s car breaks down while trying to elope, he and his girlfriend end up in the hideout of criminals who force him to come up with a way to commit the perfect murder.

In terms of its fantastic content, this is a bit of a washout; the closest it gets to being scary is a very mild sequence in which the lights go out, and though there may be some science fiction to the fact that the hero jury-rigs a radio to connect to a phone line, I suspect this is way too mild as well. As for the movie itself, it’s…well, mild. Ernest Truex mostly plays for mild, subtle laughs, and though he and Una Merkel do decent jobs in the humor department, the rather static nature of the movie (it was based on a stage play and looks it) and the preponderance of talk make it a bit on the dull side. It does get a little suggestive in a pre-code way during a sequence in which Merkel’s character, fearing that she and her husband-to-be may not survive to marry, gets it in her head to go for an early consummation. The movie’s all right, and it is a little bit different, but it’s not essential.


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