A reporter hears that a famous actress is dying in a hospital after being hit by a car. She goes to the hospital to interview the actress, who tells the reporter that her wealthy fiance, who was killed in an accident several years before, was actually murdered. Before long the reporter finds herself in a web of corruption, mental illness and murder. Written by
Unjustly forgotten (if overplotted) Eagle-Lion noir set in Quebec City
Whispering City's locale is Quebec City, that odd European fortress set high over the St. Lawrence River; it comes to Gallic life more fully here than in Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess, made a few years later.
The death in an auto accident of a long-retired actress spurs crime reporter Mary Anderson to work up a feature story; the woman was sent to a sanitarium years before for insisting that her fiance's death was actually murder. Pursuing a lead, Anderson interviews a prosperous benefactor of the arts (Paul Lukas), who seems curiously bothered by the visit. Currently, Lukas serves as the patron of an impoverished young pianist/composer (Helmut Dantine; the two actors both appeared in Watch on the Rhine). Dantine is working on something called The Quebec Concerto; an oddly scored work, its orchestra features a Sousaphone rearing its brassy bell.
An overcomplicated but still compelling plot involves Dantine's disturbed shrew of a wife, who's dependent on injections to make her sleep; the discovery of her suicide, which is made to look like murder (well, it seemed to work once); a blackmail scheme to engineer another murder; and a faked death made to look like yet another murder. (Eagle-Lion was not known for the elegant simplicity of its plots.)
Oddly, it all works, if a bit creakily. Mary Anderson suggests two-thirds Teresa Wright and a third Bonita Granville; the latter impression no doubt derives from her sleuthing around in a jaunty tam, like Nancy Drew. She has the distinction (as does the director, the short-lived Fedor Ozep, as he's credited here) of helping to make the best Nancy Drew mystery ever released. That's faint praise, but praise nonetheless.
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