The 4th film of the Columbia series based on the CBS radio program, "The Whistler", finds wealthy John Sinclair, with no health or friends, being advised by his doctor to take a long ...
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Joseph H. Lewis
Dame May Whitty,
Eric Busch, a novelist/playwright, and his wife, Janet, go to New York where he arranges to have Matt Saxon, who has a reputation for ruthlessness, produce his play. Saxon insists on so ... See full summary »
The 4th film of the Columbia series based on the CBS radio program, "The Whistler", finds wealthy John Sinclair, with no health or friends, being advised by his doctor to take a long vacation. Heading for the Great Lakes, he becomes ill in the cab operated by Ernie Sparrow an is taken to a clinic where he meets nurse Joan Martin, who is engaged to intern Fred Graham. Doctors now tell him he has only a few months to live and advise him to go to Maine (where, evidently, it will seem longer.) He asks Joan to marry him, promising to leave her his fortune. She, no dummy, accepts but hard-loser Fred doesn't like it even though she says she is doing it for him. After six months of living in a lighthouse with only Joan and Sparrow, whom he has hired as his aide, Sinclaie seemingly regains his health and has really fallen in love with Joan. She tells him she can no longer tolerate the loneliness just as Fred arrives for a visit, and John invites him to stay. In a chess game, John facetiously ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the best of the offbeat series. About 15 or 20 minutes into the screenplay and we still can't be sure what direction the story will take or how it will turn out. We're being set up for something, but without the usual conventions, it's hard to know what. In fact, this is one of the most unusual plot turn-arounds of that period. No doubt, a little programmer like this could get away with a lot more than a higher profile project. That's why there's more movie gold to be found under the 40's radar screen than on it.
Richard Dix is perfectly cast as the burned-out magnate looking for a new lease on life after years of cut-throat competition at the top. In fact he looks like he's at tether's end until he meets the sweet blonde nurse. ( Prophetically, the alcoholic Dix would die a few short years later). However, the chummy stroll with cabbie Rhys Williams along poverty row is rather overdone, while the roomful of cheerful clinic patients smacks of pure Hollywood pretense. On the other hand, the converted lighthouse amounts to an inspired bit of "mise-en-scene", with a moonlit seascape that stretches into a glimpse of eternity and a perfect backdrop for the events that follow.
I don't know if the writers intended the screenplay as a cynical commentary on friendship among the poor and those who serve them, but it certainly looks that way. The irony isn't played up, but it's still there. Also, note how the closing shot amounts to a spooky warning that in such matters, no one gets off scot free. Then too, if there's a moral to the story, I suggest something like never messing with a guy who has battled his way to the top of the business dog pile. Anyhow, it's an intriguing little 60 minutes, more than worthy of that shadowy figure of fate and master of graveyard commentary, the Whistler.
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