For Reel


Whistling in the Dark (1941)
November 29, 2014, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: S. Sylvan Simon
3 Stars
Whistling in the DarkComedians in genre pictures were all the rage in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Bob Hope had become a star due to his performances in the comedy horror pictures The Cat and the Canary and The Ghost Breakers, and Abbott & Costello also had their first dalliance with the horror genre in Hold That Ghost in 1941. A bit player in pictures for RKO and in Vitaphone shorts, Red Skelton was signed by MGM and given the vehicle meant to make him a star–Whistling in the Dark, a comic thriller that allowed him the opportunity to make wisecracks in-between his comical displays of cowardice. Like Hope’s horror pictures, Skelton plays an unlikely hero who finds himself surrounded by menacing villains in a spooky house (why things such as apparently mummified corpses appear in this particular narrative is anyone’s guess). It’s not quite as funny or suspenseful as it might be in other hands, but there are the occasional funny set pieces. Conrad Veidt plays a flamboyant cult leader who forcibly enlists the help of Skelton, a radio entertainer, to help concoct the perfect murder. Improbable as it might be, it’s amusing to see Skelton do his best to outsmart the crooks, including the terrific Rags Ragland as an intimating goon who is all too easy to fool.

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