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Secret of the Whistler


LsDoorMat
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I'm about to spoil this film big time so if you haven't seen it, look away. The last scene shows the first Mrs. Harrison's (Edith's) loyal servant Laura smiling with satisfaction as the body of the new Mrs. Harrison is hauled away, as is the very much alive but wounded Mr. Harrison (Ralph) - destined for the gallows for killing the second Mrs. Harrison (Kay).

Now Laura had served Edith since childhood, so she knew where everything was in that house. Did she set up the situation that occurred to get justice? She probably knew what was in Edith's diary, she surely knew where it was, and she managed to keep around the one poisoned bottle that showed Edith's claims were true. She planted a seed of doubt in Kay's mind knowing that Kay probably just wanted Ralph's money, but acted unknowing - claiming she didn't know where the diary was and that if ever found it might implicate Ralph in Edith's death, and that the key bottle of Edith's medicine was never found, implying it could be poisoned.

Yet Kay, newcomer to the household, easily finds both the diary and the poisoned bottle that have supposedly elluded Laura. I don't buy it. I say Laura set them both up because she read the diary and thus knew Ralph poisoned Edith's medicine and thus intended to kill her, yet the last page of Edith's diary proves Edith knew the bottle was poisoned and didn't take the medicine - dying of natural causes a short time later. Thus taking the diary or the bottle to the police would have done no good, so instead she set Ralph and Kay up to turn on each other. What Laura couldn't know is that Ralph would pick up the phone and hear Kay plotting. Did Laura perhaps pick up the phone and hand it to Ralph, just pretending to be the good servant she had always been? Did she go to Ralph and say things to get him to suspect Kay just as she went to Kay saying things to get her to suspect Ralph? I'd like to think so. Could Columbia have put that much thought into one of its hour plus long B noirs? What do you think?
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IMO that "Whistler" series may the the best of the Saturday morning offerings that TCM has been showing over the past few years. I like the fact that Richard Dix doesn't just assume a stock character each week, but instead plays a wide variety of character types, some sympathetic and others just plain evil. I haven't missed an episode yet and haven't once been disappointed.

 

But yeah, in this particular case, it did seem pretty farfetched that Edith's diary was lying right there in her desk for Kay to find, while Laura said she had no idea where it was. But I suspended my disbelief and just went along for the ride. Too bad Dix only lived long enough to make seven of these little noir gems.

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I totally agree, this series rocks! Richard Dix really does an awesome job in a multitude of shady roles from film to film, and it's great! At times, he's sympathetic, other times he's anything but, and usually always a complex character. We'll see the lone entry minus Dix this coming Saturday, and he'll be sorely missed; however, I've never seen this one before, so I'm looking forward to checking it out!

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I think you're probably right. That's pretty much what I was thinking, as I watched it.

 

I have liked most of the films well enough. I didn't care for the one about the dying industrialist who married and moved to a lighthouse. I don't understand how the Whistler could know all this stuff, just because he "walks by night." Some of it happens during the day, too... :D

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calvininme, great post to lead off this thread! And again...warning here, there are spoilers I'll discuss, so in case you haven't seen this very cool flick yet....

 

 

 

I am not sure really what happened, to be quite honest with you. But I do think you are on to something in terms of Laura. I, in no way shape or form, thought that she was only smiling, wickedly at the end because she was just satisfied with how things turned out. I thought it was way more than that. At points in this flick, I thought she was behind it somehow in more of a way than you suggest...and then I thought maybe Kay set it up, to trap/blackmail Dix. But no...that became clear, but i still suspect how much Laura was involved in all of it.

 

I agree, this is a very complex and intriguing mystery! I have to say I have dug all of them! They always make me think and toss me a few curves along the way, and not just the dames that are typically cast either!

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I was pleasantly surprised to find that Michael Duane's Return of the Whistler was just about as good as any of the five Richard Dix films that were previously shown, although it's hard to compare the two actors when Duane was playing a good guy to Dix's shadier and more complex characters. I only wish that TCM would show The Thirteenth Hour and The Mark of the Whistler, which were the only Dix versions that they missed.

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Andy, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the final "Whistler" flick! I have to say I was a little disappointed in it, and I think it was a combination of missing the screen presence of Dix, as well as the type of character he typically played in this series. I also would love to see those other two Dix flix!!! I hope they show up sometime soon!

 

 

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> {quote:title=markbeckuaf wrote:}{quote}

> Andy, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the final "Whistler" flick! I have to say I was a little disappointed in it, and I think it was a combination of missing the screen presence of Dix, as well as the type of character he typically played in this series. I also would love to see those other two Dix flix!!! I hope they show up sometime soon!

Yeah, I'd say this one was a good B mystery but not in the style of The Whistler. Dix always played an ambiguous character - you could love him and hate him at the same time. The last Whistler is just an all around good guy trying to solve the mystery of his missing bride. No gray characters at all.

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