The Conrad Veidt Society
By Barbara Peterson
Whistling in the Dark
Wally Benton, 'The Fox'
Carol Lambert, Radio actress and Wally's fiance
Fran Post, daughter of Wally's program sponsor
Joseph Jones, leader of the Silver Haven
Sylvester, the chauffeur of the Silver Haven
Jennings, the Haven's lawyer
Gordon Thomas, the Havenite tasked with eliminating Mr. Upshaw
'Noose' Blue. He can be bribed.
Phillip Post, the sponsor of 'The Fox'
Buzz Baker, Wally's agent
Joseph Jones and his Cult of the Silver Haven have bilked many gullible women out
Wally Benton, the Fox, is performing his radio program in front of a live studio
audience, which includes Joseph Jones. While he's performing in front of the microphone,
along with other actors, and his sound-
Next to invade the dressing room are Joseph Jones and his entourage. Jones explains that he is a maker of vitamins, and wants to become the sponsor of The Fox. Wally is elated at this news. Problem is, they have to sign the deal tonight, and Jones 'wife' is waiting at the Regal Hotel for them. Wally gives phone numbers for Carol's apartment and the Pelican Club to Jones' 'secretary' and then goes with Jones in his chauffered car. He soon realizes that these people are not who they've claimed to be, and Jones tells him exactly what is expected of him. Wally refuses to help them, but Jones arranges for both Carol and Fran to be brought to the Silver Haven's huge mansion in order to persuade him otherwise. Wally feigns dislike of the two girls, but Jones is not fooled. He tells the women to persuade Wally to do as he asks, and then he leaves them alone.
The three attempt to escape by finding and navigating a hidden passage but it is
a fruitless (and time-
Wally is cheerfully eating strawberries the next morning when the two women are brought
down to join him. He has written out his murder plan like a script, and Jones has
sent the minions to acquire the ingredients for the packet of poison, leaving 'Noose'
Blue to keep an eye on them. Wally bribes him in order to ensure that he and the
girls are able to escape. Then Jones arrives -
Wally and the two girls are left alone again, with Sylvester outside the door to guard them. Wally reveals that he has switched packets, so Upshaw won't die. The Silver Haven's pharmacist enters, requesting the Fox's autograph, and reveals that Thomas had forgotten his briefcase (with the poison) and so the pharamacist had to get his clerk to run a new package out to Thomas at the airport. He leaves the three people decidely depressed.
Business at the Silver Haven as usual -
Jones is informed that the Fox is broadcasting, and hurries back to Silver Haven,
where Sylvester is finally getting suspicious and tries to stop the Fox. This time
Wally fights back. The sound of fists pounding and chairs breaking and voices screaming
goes out over the airwaves, and the two women join in the brawl as well. They've
taken care of Sylvester just as Jones arrives and holds them at gunpoint. Wally manages
to distract him via rubber band and paper clip, and disarms him just as the police
arrive. Jones allows the police to escort him from the room, saying suavely, "We
part in radiant contentment." The Fox makes one last appeal over the radio to warn
Upshaw of his danger, then turns to kiss his fiance. Unfortunately she had fainted,
and he kisses the stone-
Jones: ''How much did she leave us?''
Jannings: ''A million dollars.
Jannings: '' With reservations.''
Jones: ''Don't be humourous. You are a lawyer, not a comedian.''
Buzz: ''Help yourself to some of your father's product.''
Fran: ''Not me. That's what killed momma.''
Thomas: ''I was just trying to ease your mind, J.J.''
Jones: ''You can ease my mind by not using yours.''
Blue: ''He's smart, boss. I listen to him every night.''
Jones: ''Doesn't seem to have done you much good.''
Whistling in the Dark (1941), was first made in 1933, starring Ernst Truex as Wallace
Porter and Una Merkel as Toby Van Buren. (In other words the names were changed to
protect the innocent.) Both movies were based on the play by Laurence Gross and Edward
Childs Carpenter. Red Skelton reprised his role as Wally Benton, aka the Fox, in
two other movies. Whistling in Dixie (1942), finds him travelling to Georgia with
girlfriend Carol. She's worried about an ex-
A fun little film. Skelton is a good actor, but each time he delivered a cowardly
wise crack or did a double-
NOTES OF INTEREST
Veidt's film countdown
This was Conrad Veidt's 104th film.
After Jones decides, in the hearing of his minions, that the Fox and the two women will never leave the house alive, the lawyer Mr. Janning says, ''Well, I prefer not know about it.''
Jones replies, ''But you do know about it, Jannings. We all do. Don't we?'' And there is a closeup of Conrad Veidt's face as he looks around at his compatriots, and his especially sardonic look as he places a cigarette in his mouth as he looks back towards Jannings, which is unfortunately not lingered upon.
I wondered if this was a dig at the Germans, who
Slipped Past the Censors
Wally and Carol rush away from the radio stage after completing the program. Wally's agent Buzz prevents sponsor's daughter Fran from going after him immediately. ''He's probably gone to slip into something cool.'' Scene cuts to Wally kissing Carol deeply and passionately.
Evolution of Air Travel
In 1941, passengers on a plane had to step on a scale to be weighed. They didn't
carry on one piece of hand luggage -
On the Air
This movie provides a fun view of how a radio program was broadcast in 1941. Actors
had to repeat their roles -
''There's that girl again.'' In other films of the period, ''there's that man again.''
I've Seen That Face Somewhere Before
Both Virgina Grey and Don Costello were later to appear in After The Thin Man. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER. Virginia Grey was introduced as the adopted daughter of the character played by C. Aubrey Smith. In the 1940's, a real child couldn't kill his parent. So anytime a character was introduced specifically as someone's adopted child, chances were very good that person would turn out to be the murderer.
Bad Editing, Especially if you're a Veidt fan
Joseph Jones is in the audience of the Fox's live radio broadcast, flanked by his entourage. On stage, the Fox explains that he suspected that the maharajah was not the maharajah because a true maharajah winds his turban from right to left, never from left to right. The camera switches to a closeup of Jones and Jannings, as Jones leans over and comments seriously, ''I never knew that.'' The camera should have stayed on Veidt's profile for a couple of seconds to give the audience time for a laugh, but instead cuts immediately back to Skelton.
Jones has ordered his men to take the traitor, 'Noose' Blue, into another room, and test the Fox's formula out on him. Jones remains in the room and the Fox, Carol and Fran converge on him, begging him to spare Noose's life. Veidt seats himself, crossing one leg over the other, and says, ''I beg you not to distress yourself over Blue's death. It is by no means untimely. By all rights he should have met this fate years ago. Murder and kidnapping top the list of his crimes but there have been many others.'' As he speaks this final line Veidt places one finger over his teeth and arcs both eyebrows, in a humourous fashion. But the camera cuts away from him immediately so one doesn't get the full impact of his expression.
Order a VHS Tape or DVD of Whistling in the Dark from Amazon.com: HERE.