The Whistler (1944 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||William Castle|
|Produced by||Rudolph C. Flothow|
|Screenplay by||Eric Taylor|
|Story by||J. Donald Wilson|
|Narrated by||Otto Forrest|
J. Carrol Naish
|Music by||René Garriguenc
|Cinematography||James S. Brown Jr.|
|Editing by||Jerome Thoms|
|Studio||Larry Darmour Productions|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||59 minutes|
The Whistler is a 1944 American mystery film noir based on the radio drama The Whistler. Directed by William Castle, the production features Richard Dix, Gloria Stuart and J. Carrol Naish. It is the first of Columbia Pictures' eight "Whistler" films starring Richard Dix produced in the 1940s.
A grieving widower and industrialist, Earl C. Conrad, who failed to rescue his wife at sea and must suffer the accusing stares of his friends, hires a hit man to end his own life. But then he learns his wife is alive and tries to call the hit off by finding the intermediary with whom he'd made the contract. Unfortunately, the intermediary is now dead and that man's wife thinks Conrad set him up. This leads to a series of maneuvers and wrong choices on Conrad's part as he becomes the victim of a car wreck, spends the night in a 25-cents-a-bed flop house, and tries to stow away on a Red Cross ship—all while his private secretary, who secretly loves him, struggles to save the man from himself and the low-life enemies he has made along the way.
- Richard Dix as Earl C. Conrad
- Gloria Stuart as Alice Walker
- J. Carrol Naish as The Killer
- Alan Dinehart as Gorman
When the film was released, film critic, Bosley Crowther, panned the film, writing, "Such is the miserable expedient to which Richard Dix is reduced in this weary, illogical imitation of an Alfred Hitchcock (plus an early Fritz Lang) film. For an hour or thereabouts he starts and stumbles just out of reach of a relentless J. Carrol Naish, who first has the original intention of frightening Mr. Dix to death. Along that line, the producers might have made a likely serio-comic film, but they change Mr. Naish's mind too quickly and send him—and the picture—in for a real kill. And so we get the routine spectacle of a dragged-out killer-and-victim chase, all very serious and phony—and, consequently, very dull. It ends with the killer being bumped off and Mr. Dix in a state of collapse."
More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a more favorable review, writing, "This action-packed one-hour mystery story was the first film in a series spun off from the successful radio program of the '30s and '40s. It starts off with some whistling and a monologue by the unseen Whistler, just as it was done on radio: 'I am the Whistler...and I know many things, for I walk by night.' ... This well-done suspense story continues with the panicky Earl trying to track down the killer to cancel the contract, while the killer thinks he can scare his target to death by just tailing him. The film's theme is that man cannot change his destiny, and if his destiny is to die by murder...that's what it will be. The Whistler states at the end: 'I know because I am the Whistler.' The result is an entertaining B film."
Film critic Leonard Maltin gave it three our of four stars, writing: "[This] tense and moody tale of fate sets the ironic tone for the rest [of the Whistler series]. Naish shines as the principal hit man."
- The Whistler at the Internet Movie Database.
- Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, April 29, 1944. Accessed: July 15, 2013.
- Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, July 15, 2001. Accessed: July 15, 2013.
- Maltin, Leonard, film review, The Whistler at Turner Classic Movies.
- Pitts, Michael R. Famous Movie Detectives II. Rowman & Littlefield, 1991. ISBN 0-8108-2345-4.
- Van Neste, Dan. " The Whistler: Stepping Into the Shadows -- A Columbia Film Series". BearManor Media, 2011. ISBN 1-59393-402-5.
- Wilt, David E. Hardboiled in Hollywood. Popular Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87972-525-7.
- The Whistler at the Internet Movie Database
- The Whistler at AllMovie
- The Whistler at the TCM Movie Database