An artist married to a wealthy but ill woman begins an affair with one of his models, who is after him solely for his money. His wife discovers the affair and threatens to cut him out of ... See full summary »
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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 ... See full summary »
An artist married to a wealthy but ill woman begins an affair with one of his models, who is after him solely for his money. His wife discovers the affair and threatens to cut him out of her will. In order to be able to keep both the wife's money and his girlfriend, he begins to secretly poison his wife - but events take a surprising turn after she eventually dies. Written by
This is, in my humble opinion, the best of the whistler series of films, and sadly, the next to the last one starring Richard Dix as the center of whatever dark tale "the whistler" is recounting for the audience. This one plays out like a 40's version of Night Gallery except without any of the supernatural elements usually involved in that 70's series and with an extra helping of irony.
This is a tale about a mediocre middle aged artist, (Richard Dix as Ralph Harrison) married to a middle-aged wealthy wife (Mary Currier as Edith Harrison). The first scene sets us up for the macabre nature of the tale to come. A woman is ordering an expensive headstone - even in 1946 it will cost five thousand dollars . The stonemason is telling her it will take three months to build such an expensive monument. She says that is OK. Then she gives the name to be put on the headstone - her own. You see, Edith is quite ill with a bad heart and has only months to live and she knows it.
Someone else here mentioned this as the tale of "the inconvenient wife", but it is not at all clear what Ralph's true feelings are for his wife, at least in the beginning. For sure he likes not having to sell sketches in the park, to be able to have his own studio and dabble even though he has no talent, and to entertain his "friends" who are actually just a bunch of parasitic hangers on. However, he seems genuinely troubled and saddened by the doctor's news that his wife has only weeks or months to live. His great misfortune is to befriend ace grifter Kay Morrell just to have someone to talk to during his time of trouble with his wife tied to a sick bed, and then he falls in love with her.
Ralph decides he really wants Kay, Kay really only likes Ralph's money, and Ralph really likes his money too, and he loses that if he divorces Edith. Normally he could just wait out Edith's illness to its inevitable conclusion, but then a monkey wrench is thrown into his plans - a young hot-shot doctor devises a state of the art treatment plan and Edith now has a second lease on life. I'll let you watch for yourself and see how all of this plays out.
This particular whistler entry is the essence of noir - an average man who is on an average man's path until something unexpected comes along, and suddenly that forbidden fruit just looks to good to pass up. Surely he can get away with a bite out of that fruit just once...or not.
Like I said earlier, Dix did an outstanding job in this one. You never really know what his true feelings are deep in his heart, since he plays his cards close to his vest in his role as Ralph and he is fascinating to watch. Kudos also go out to Claire Du Brey who has her Mrs. Danvers like role down pat as the loyal servant of Edith, and also to Leslie Brooks as Kay Morrell who is beautiful and cold as ice as the femme fatale. A highly recommended little B noir.
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