Tuesday 6 November 2007

Voice of the Whistler (1945) William Castle

John Sinclair was an early industrialist, making it big soon after the end of World War I and progressing upward and onward from here. We even get to see a short film about him, which ironically ends with the Sinclair company winning a $25m patent infringement case against the Turner Company, given that I'm watching this as a recording from TCM. Everything looks rosy, but he's been overdoing it for years and is now at the literal point of collapse. His doctors make him take a vacation away from work to recover, but there's nobody to take with him as he has absolutely no personal life whatsoever to fall back on.

He's not well on his holiday either and falls ill in the cab of Ernie Sparrow, former boxing champion of England, who helps him out by getting him to a clinic. It turns out that Ernie was once in the same spot: highly successful but with no real friends at all, and Ernie becomes his first friend. It's at the clinic that he meets another: Joan Martin, his nurse who's been engaged to the clinic's intern for years. It's to Joan that he offers a proposal, literally, to marry him and be his companion for the few months he has left to live. In return she'll receive his entire considerable fortune when he dies.

She accepts and the three of them (John, Ernie and Joan) move to a lighthouse where Sinclair fails to die. In fact he seems to get better and actually falls in love with her, which makes the whole love triangle more apparent. Then comes the inevitable murder plot which has a few quirks to it. It's a pretty good story, all told, and done pretty well too. Lynn Merrick, who plays Joan, looks awesome and it's completely believable that two completely different men could fall in love with her. Rhys Williams is wasted as Ernie Sparrow, but Richard Dix is fine for this role: solid but not particularly emotionally deep. And that sums up the film, really.

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