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Fred F. Sears
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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
In this, the penultimate Whistler movie, Richard Dix, aging and hulking, is simply deliciously evil. Though acting with seeming sweetness and kindness to those around him, Dix's eyes give it all away: hideous, subtly maniacal eyes, eyes in which we can see the selfish egotistical dementia of a man who has apparently spent a lifetime manipulating and using every person unfortunate enough to cross his path. A great job by Dix, and I hope he had fun with this role.
Otherwise, as is usual in the Whistler fliks, the supporting actors are adequate, and the dialogue slightly corny and dated, but with a time of barely over an hour, the pace is quick and satisfying.
A very interesting directorial decision: three years before this movie was made (that is, 1943) the great western, The Ox-bow Incident, was released. In the famous last scene, Henry Fonda reads aloud the last letter written by the lynched Dana Andrews. Fonda's eyes, and eyes alone, are not visible, hidden behind the brim of Henry Morgan's hat, while we see his mouth move. A very effective idea.
Well, here, in The Secret of the Whistler, the director uses the exact same idea: in a late scene, Richard Dix's wife makes a startling confession, her eyes hidden by an intruding lamp shade, but her mouth visible as she speaks, with Dix looking on behind her. Again, interesting.
Lastly, look for Dix's wife walking around with about a half-dozen dead minks or stoles or whatever they are, complete with heads, draped across her left shoulder. I don't why this struck me as funny, but, in its gratuitous pointlessness, it did.
Definitely a fun way to spend 65 minutes.
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