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Whispering Smith (1948)

Passed | | Western | 9 December 1948 (USA)
Legendary railroad detective Whispering Smith becomes convinced that old friend and colleague Murray Sinclair has joined a criminal band to loot the railroad.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Murray Sinclair
...
Marian Sinclair
...
Barney Rebstock
...
Bill Dansing
...
Emmy Dansing
...
Blake Barton
...
Whitey Du Sang
John Eldredge ...
George McCloud
Ward Wood ...
Leroy Barton (as Robert Wood)
...
Bill Baggs
...
Sheriff McSwiggin
...
Dr. Sawbuck
...
Conductor (as Eddy C. Waller)
Ashley Cowan ...
Train Brakeman
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Storyline

Smith as an iron-willed railroad detective. When his friend Murray is fired from the railroad and begins helping Rebstock wreck trains, Smith must go after him. He also seems to have an interest in Murray's wife (and vice versa). Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

railroad | brandy | cigar | See All (3) »

Taglines:

A new Ladd thrills the Old West !

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 December 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Por Um Fio  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The railhead town site was constructed on the Paramount lot adjacent to the neighboring RKO Pictures studio. It became the basis for what would go on to become Paramount's famous western town set as seen in TV's Bonanza (1959) and numerous other TV shows and movies. Prior to 1948, Paramount didn't have a western set on its studio lot. A short line of track was laid down that allowed a working period locomotive to pull into town. See more »

Goofs

When Luke Smith is pouring coffee for Bill Dansing in front of the Boarding House, one instant he is pouring coffee into Bill's cup and the next he is pouring coffee into his own cup. See more »

Quotes

Luke 'Whispering' Smith: Murray, if they'd be any other way, I'd a played it differently. You know that, don't you?
[Murray tries to talk]
Luke 'Whispering' Smith: The only cards I had wee the ones you dealt me.
[Murray smiles and dies]
See more »

Connections

Followed by Whispering Smith (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

Billy Boy
(uncredited)
Tradtional folk and children's song first recorded in 1930.
William Demerast plays the tune on a harmonica and is joined in song with Fay Holden and Alan Ladd.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Playing the Cards that are Dealt
29 March 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Alan Ladd's first starring western and first film in technicolor is Whispering Smith. I have a funny feeling that someone at Paramount figured out that in boots with a couple of inches of heels on them, Mr. Ladd could get some additional height unnoticed. He certainly did do a lot of westerns after Whispering Smith.

According to the films of Alan Ladd and the biography by Beverly Linet, Ladd had purchased a ranch for his family and enjoyed his time out there and became an expert rider. For someone who arrived late to the western genre, Alan Ladd does sit the saddle well and looks right at home on the range.

The story based on a novel by Frank Spearman had been filmed two times previously as a silent film. Ladd is a railroad detective and we first meet him going after Murvyn Vye and his two outlaw brothers. Ladd's best friend is Robert Preston and his wife Brenda Marshall almost married Ladd back in the day.

Preston is a happy go lucky sort, but a lout none the less. The green eyed monster gets him though as Ladd is hanging around. Preston falls for the line that chief villain Donald Crisp gives him. Especially after he gets fired from the railroad after tangling with new superintendent John Eldredge. With his knowledge about the railroad, Preston becomes invaluable to Crisp.

Whispering Smith is directed by Leslie Fenton, former actor who was gradually getting into A films, but he retired after directing only a few more films after this one. The character he creates for Ladd is a harbinger of the one that George Stevens did for Ladd in Shane. I have no doubt that Stevens cast Ladd in Shane after viewing Whispering Smith.

And Whispering Smith probably would be considered a classic western if someone like George Stevens or John Ford or Anthony Mann had directed it. It's that good.

Donald Crisp is a garrulous, but crafty outlaw leader. William Demarest is fine in the sidekick role. But the portrayal among the supporting cast to watch is Frank Faylen's as the albino killer in Crisp's gang. I also think that George Stevens was influenced in his direction of Jack Palance in Shane from Faylen's portrayal. Faylen has even less dialog than Palance did in Shane, but he will absolutely chill you when you watch the film.

Whispering Smith is an absolute must for western fans and fans of Alan Ladd. It's a turning point film in his career and I'm glad it is finally out on DVD. Only wish a VHS version had been made of it.


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