For Reel

The Whistler (1944)
November 29, 2014, 3:19 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William Castle
3 Stars
The WhistlerColumbia capitalized on the success of the popular radio series The Whistler by basing a series of eight films on the mystery anthology starring Richard Dix. The connective tissue that brings all of the stories together is the omniscient narrator of the namesake who stalks the street with an eerily foreboding catchphrase in, “I am the Whistler and I know many things, for I walk by night.” This first installment sees Dix play an industrialist who has lost the will to live after failing to save his wife. He hires a hit man to kill him… but it turns out that his wife is still alive, and he can’t get back in touch with the man who pursues him! Horror legend William Castle directed the production, which has a fitting thematic similarity to his later gimmicks in that the killer (J. Carrol Naish) is convinced that it’s possible to scare a victim to death by stalking him. The film is a creepy, extended cat-and-mouse chase–Dix walks through hallways and hides out in bars, delaying his inevitable doom. It’s not a particularly great performance until the very end, in which Dix’s ailing physicality is startling. While he remains rather stoic throughout most of the picture, by the end he becomes a paranoid neurotic, sweating profusely and nervously fidgeting due to the knowledge of his forthcoming death.

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