THE WHISTLER. 1944

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THE WHISTLER was the first in a series of 8 films with RICHARD DIX starring in each one. Interestingly,Dix played a different character in each of the series.Like many others that came to the screen, The Whistler originated on the radio and the film begins as the radio show did, with a shadowy figure telling us, ““I am the Whistler. I know many things for I walk by night…”

This Columbia film doesn’t waste any of its 59 minutes.Dix plays a successful business man whose wife had died 3 years previously in a drowning accident. He has never got over her death and partly blames himself for not saving her.
He decides he doesn’t want to live any more and commissions his own death,paying $10,000 to an intermediary, without knowing who the hitman will be or how it will happen, only that it is to be done within the next week.

In fact the killer is J.CARROL NAISH . He’s very methodical and when someone he knows wants him for another job, he says, “When I’ve been paid, I gotta deliver. Maybe I can knock this guy off without killing him myself. Do you know some people actually die of fright.”

In his office the next day,Dix is hit by the news from his secretary,GLORIA STUART that his wife is alive and was a prisoner of the Japanese . She is to be repatriated by the Red Cross.
Dix doesn’t display much emotion as he says ,”I can go on living again.”
(Don’t ask me how the wife went from what seemed a drowning accident to being a Japanese prisoner!)

Trouble is, the man who arranged for Naish to fulfil the contract is now dead and there are only a few days to go……..

J.Carrol Naish has the best part as the hit man who is meticulous and mad! Gloria Stuart is lovely but is given little to do.
I wasn’t impressed with Richard Dix. Seemed a bit wooden to me.

Gloria Stuart

Gloria Stuart

7 responses »

  1. I saw a number of Whistler films years ago, but don’t remember much about them. I guess that says something in itself. Generally though, I am fond of these B series detective movies and they’re usually a fairly fun way to spend an hour or so. Have you seen any Lone Wolf movies? I seem to recall they were quite entertaining.

  2. I have not seen any of “The Whistler” films but would sure like too.
    Richard Dix was a huge superstar in the Twenties and early Thirties
    but by the time the Forties arrived his acting style seemed very dated
    especially with younger (and,frankly sexier) stars like Wayne,Scott and
    McCrea now playing the parts Dix would have played earlier.
    Someone sent me a copy of the excellent Western THE ROUND UP (1940)
    and while Preston Foster and Patricia Morison are excellent in the film Dix
    comes across as very stiff and awkward.Still this must not detract from what
    a huge star he was in his day.

  3. The plot of this first Whistler film was quite good but I was disappointed in Dix.I’m afraid I have seen very little of his films.
    I like the combination of Preston Foster and Patricia Morison in THE ROUND UP. Will watch out for it.

  4. Don’t you think that Dix was a silent movie era star who never really got adjusted to the talkies? But I have to say I only watched three of his films; the two he made with Dunne and “The Conquerors” which I only watched because of Ann Harding.

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