29 user 10 critic

The Whistler (1944)

A depressed man hires an assassin to kill him when he least expects it, but when his life takes an upward turn, he finds he now wishes to live.


William Castle


J. Donald Wilson (based on the CBS Radio Program by), Eric Taylor (screenplay)




Cast overview:
Richard Dix ... Earl C. Conrad
Gloria Stuart ... Alice Walker
J. Carrol Naish ... The Killer
Alan Dinehart ... Gorman


A man, despondent over the death of his wife, wants to commit suicide but can't bring himself to do it. He hires a man to hire a professional killer to do the job. However, he soon finds out that his wife isn't really dead - but the man he paid to hire the hitman is, and he has no idea who the man hired or how to get him to call off the hit. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


RADIO'S MASTER OF MYSTERY...NOW ON THE SCREEN! (original poster-all caps) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film series is based on the radio program "The Whistler" that aired on the CBS radio network from May 16, 1942 until September 22, 1955. See more »


While the killer is lying on the bed perusing his book on Fear of Death, a cigarette suddenly appears in his mouth. See more »


The Bum in the Next Bed: Rats in this place as big as beavers. They won't hurt ya... but you're liable to trip over them in the dark.
See more »


References No Place for a Lady (1943) See more »

User Reviews

First of an Outstanding Series
1 November 2006 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

This movie is the first installment of The Whistler series from Columbia Pictures, all but one of which starred Richard Dix whose A-picture career was then on an alcoholic downgrade, but whose liquor-ravaged face was just right for the overall atmosphere. (For a complete list of series titles, consult "movie connections" on web page.) Of all the movie series to emerge from the 30's and 40's, this is easily one of the most fascinating and unusual. Each entry presents a different self-contained story, tied together only by the mysterious figure of The Whistler who comments briefly on plot developments, but appears only in shadow to whistle his trademark refrain. He seems to be a figure of fate since the hand of destiny emerges in most of the entries. But most importantly, the plots follow no formula (unusual for any series) and are entirely unpredictable in their outcome. This unpredictability is what distinguishes the series from others of the time.You really don't know what's going to happen or how each episode will turn out. Moreover, there's a strong noirish quality to many of the entries, with a suspenseful atmosphere, an underlying sense of doom, and imaginative characters and plot twists. All in all, the productions are a first cousin to the celebrated Val Lewton horror cycle from RKO, minus the supernatural. I'm surprised that with all the scholarly interest in film noir, that this noirish series has not received the critical attention it merits.

Though weaker in many ways (the script appears put together on the fly), this initial entry contains many features generic to the others. Dix, a prosperous manufacturer, arranges for his own death following the presumed death of his beloved wife, only to find out ironically that she is not dead. The problem is he can't undo the arrangement and is thus forced to escape through the labyrinthine venues of the city's skid row. The entire 60 minutes has something of a nightmarish quality since it starts off with Dix expecting death, though in what form, he can't be sure. Looking convincingly like a real bum, it's Dix's tour through the seedy parts of the city that really commands attention, especially the 25-cent flop-house with its rows of coffin-like cots, snoring vagrants, and sneak thief. You can almost smell the rot-gut whiskey peeling off the walls. The sets are bare-bones, the cafes, bars, and city sidewalks sometimes suggesting the unadorned depths of urban despair. Unfortunately, the ending is abrupt and disappointing. It's almost as though the production suddenly ran out of film and had to wrap it up right then. Nonetheless, many of the distinctive elements of the productions are already present. Unfortunately copies of the series are hard to obtain ( my own burned in a house fire some time ago). So let's hope our friends on cable TV follow up on this initial entry some time soon. It's well worth tuning in.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

30 March 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Whistler See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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