For Reel

Whistling in Dixie (1942)
November 29, 2014, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: S. Sylvan Simon
4 Stars
Whistling in DixieMGM found their answer to Bob Hope when Whistling in the Dark successfully made a star out of Red Skelton, and so it came as no surprise that a sequel would be rushed into production and released the following year. It’s a better film in nearly every way. Skelton once again plays “The Fox”, a radio personality who becomes wrapped up in a real-life murder mystery. Also returning are Ann Rutherford as the fiancee, who is solid but doesn’t get much of substance to do, and Rags Ragland in a dual performance as the thug he played in the first installment and his twin brother. Ragland steals the picture–he’s equally hilarious in two distinct performances. Although the twin gimmick is a familiar one (Laurel and Hardy found success with it in Our Relations), this picture does manage to get a lot of comic mileage out of the setup in a chaotic brawl in the climax. There’s also a memorable set piece (albeit a familiar one) in which Skelton and the gang are trapped in a room that is slowly filling with water. As in Hope’s best vehicles of the time, the delicate balance between suspense and humor is handled beautifully. Director S. Sylvan Simon doesn’t underplay the severity of the danger his characters find themselves in, and even when the wisecracks are coming he stages it as if it were a serious action picture.

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