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The fifth entry in the Columbia series based on the CBS radio program, "The Whistler", opens with kindly old music store owner Edward Stillwell (Paul E. Burns) hiring private detective Don Gale (Richard Dix) to find a girl Stillwell hasn't seen in seven years. Gale sends Freida Hanson (Helen Mowery') to pose as the missing Elora Lund (Pamela Blake), and she learns that some items left by Elora's mother are now extremely valuable before Harry Pontos (Mike Mazurki) comes into the room and kills Stillwell. He also kidnaps Freida but releases her when Don announces she is an impostor. With Freida's help, Gale locates Pontos' apartment, who is shot down in a gun battle with the arriving police. Gale returns to his place but is arrested by detectives Taggart and Burns and jailed. The detectives later find the real Elora, who has been in a sanitarium recovering from an accident. Gale is released and Elora is sent by the detectives to see if he will disclose why Stillwell was looking for her....Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The best of the series--too bad they weren't all this well-written
The Whistler was both a radio show and a B-movie series from Columbia Pictures. Unlike the usual B-films (which were mostly detective films), this series was more like episodes of the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" television series--each a unique story involving human nature and each one being unique and unrelated to the others. Additionally, all but the final film starred Richard Dix--who played very different characters in all the films.
In this film, Dix plays a private detective who isn't especially honest. When a kindly old man comes to him for help, Dix appears willing to use a bit of larceny to cash in on the man's trust. Throughout the film, you see that above all else, Dix is a man out for himself. Additionally, other selfish characters abound--and soon practically everyone wants to cash in on the old man's secret.
This film is probably the best in the series because the script is much tighter and without the plot holes that sometimes impeded the series. While there are many twists and turns, the script never becomes too complicated and it ends with a wonderful and ironic twist. Additionally, the supporting staff is much better than usual--having many great character actors on hand, such as Mike Muzurki, Barton MacLane and Charles Lane.
The score of 8 is relative to other B-movies. For the genre, it's among the best and not to be missed by old film buffs.
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