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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Whistle While You Wait (For The End)


Secret Of The Whistler (1946) ... My Last Of These For A While

Why my reluctance to keep watching Whistlers? Maybe it's a vague unpleasantness they share. Irony's heavy hand falls on Richard Dix like anvils. He's like a Tex Avery wolf looking up just as the safe lands from ten stories high. Sometimes I'd prefer seeing Dick end up OK --- must he always roll boxcars? This time there's domestic discord and a too-long delayed murder, or is it murder? Women never deal square with Dix; he might be a noir immortal if these pics were better. As it is, everything is Columbia-cheap, which reads dismal much of the time, wobbly flats threatening to fall down around a barely engaged cast. All were strictly off the rack and grosses could be estimated like gas receipts.

5 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cline said...

I watched all of the Dick Dix "Whistlers" the last time TCM ran them. I found them fun, especially THE POWER OF THE WHISTLER in which poor Richard wandered through the entire picture without knowing who he really was. And THE VOICE OF THE WHISTLER, which took place in a lighthouse.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

One thing I learned on some road trips listening to old time radio: OTR was a LOT more morbid than old Hollywood. They would describe things you'd never ever see mentioned in a movie (like The Shadow episode where the bad guys smuggle stuff by sewing it inside the skin of sailors who die of infection, at which point they cut it back out-- ick!)

But they were also often just much more sardonic and cruel about life. And a really good example of that is The Whistler, in which the omniscient Whistler is often taunting as he describes how you, Muriel Potzebie, thought that no one would notice if you took that extra money from the office safe, but you couldn't know that Mr. Weatherby would make an unexpected stop at the office just as you were holding that poker, could you?

So yeah, I can see how the series is kind of grim, unrewarding stuff at times.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Everything you said is why I love those Whistler movies. In an era when happy endings were practically federal law, these downbeat movies are actually refreshing, and a decade or so ahead of their time. Dix is one of those quietly emotional, underrated actors I always enjoy watching.

And -- if you don't mind a shameless plug -- here's my take on the great Dix movie "The Ghost Ship":
http://theolfisheye.blogspot.com/2013/07/movie-of-day-ghost-ship-1943.html

12:11 PM  
Blogger Ken Zimmerman Jr. said...

I've listened to the Whistler radio programs and enjoyed them. I have not seen any of the movies yet. Unfortunately, Columbia didn't spend a lot on production value. Thanks for the info about a movie series though.

12:53 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Donald Benson addresses himself to several Columbia series:


Have yet to encounter a Columbia series I could get into, and Sony isn't helping by dribbling them out as single on-demand discs. For the price of two individual Jungle Jims you can get a set of seven Falcons (list prices). Or ten Ma and Pa Kettles and a pizza.


"The Crime Doctor" had a great, albeit silly, concept. Amnesiac with no identity quickly becomes brilliant, in-demand psychologist, then recovers his memory -- he was a ruthless gangster, and his old gang is after him. He resolves to serve society, combining his scientific insights with his first-person knowledge of the criminal mind. The next one I caught offered a sober, dull medico who'd poke around mild interesting mysteries. The criminal memories, the budding romance and everything else of interest was gone.


"The Notorious Lone Wolf" opened with a dashing jewel thief returning from the war, then lapsed into the hero and his sidekick doing a homage to the Three Stooges' "Rajah" routine. It was meant to be funny, but our heroes were meant to be seriously fooling the villains. Were the earlier Lone Wolfs better?


"Jungle Jim" . . . A bit disconcerting to find that Johnny Weissmuller fully dressed still had Tarzan's way with dialogue.

4:51 AM  

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