Saturday 17 November 2007

The Secret of the Whistler (1946) George Sherman

The Curtis Monument Company gets a strange order. It's a marble memorial for a woman who hasn't died yet and it's being ordered by the 'deceased' woman herself, Edith Marie Harrison. Given that this is a Whistler movie, it's not too surprising to find that Edith is married to the character being played by Richard Dix. This time out he's Ralph Harrison, aging party boy. He's really an artist, but his money comes from his wife and his party guests only turn up so that they can work their way through his food and drink.

He does seem to care about his wife, who's having heart attacks, but manages anyway to fall for the wiles of model Kay Morrell, played by the lovely Leslie Brooks. Edith's doctor advises him to find companionship to forget about his wife's troubles, given that she becomes bedridden and can't endure much companionship herself, but young Kay takes considerable advantage of that. By the time the doctors bring in a specialist and hope springs up for a recovery for Edith, he's already fallen for Kay enough to want to do something about it.

You can see where some of the plot will go after that, but you'll also be surprised at where the scriptwriters take it. There are a number of twists to the tale that are handled very nicely and leave certain things open for additional interpretation. There's some delicious irony that is served very cold indeed, making this a pedestrian but ultimately satisfying episode in the Whistler series. It was also the last appearance by Richard Dix, who was replaced for only one further entry.

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