Monday 5 November 2007

The Power of the Whistler (1945) Lew Landers

Third in the Whistler series, this one finds Richard Dix as William Everest, a man who is almost hit by a car at the beginning of the film. He stumbles into the Salt Shaker in Greenwich Village where Jean Lang tells his fortune from a distance, twice in fact, and the cards come up both times that he'll die within 24 hours. Lang is played by Janis Carter, who I last saw playing Michael Lanyard's girlfriend in The Notorious Lone Wolf. She's certainly pleasing on the eyes but can't be to Everest, as he meets her as she tells him he's about to die.

He's also managed to lose his memory, unable to remember even who he is. Lang helps him out, acting as his wits given that he seems to have lost his along with his memory, but the more leads they follow the more confusing everything gets. He seems to have bought a ballerina flowers but she doesn't recognise him and the flowers came from her fiance. He also has a prescription from a doctor but the doctor's address turns out to be a bookstore and the doctor himself was the author of a book on poison, dead fifty years. He also seems to be a really nice guy, but animals turn up dead in his vicinity.

It plays out pretty well but maybe for a little too long. It's only seven minutes longer than The Whistler, but it feels like half an hour. When everything's in doubt, it keeps us rivetted to find out exactly who William Everest is; but when we discover who he is and the tension switches to Lang finding him out, it isn't as effective. It's fascinating to watch the femme fatale concept reversed: Janis Carter would be an awesome femme fatale but she's entirely the good girl here who gets caught up in her own good deeds. This one misses somehow but it's hard to really detail why.

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