Saturday, May 06, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Whistling in the Dark (1933) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

WHISTLING IN THE DARK (1933) is an enjoyable comedic crime film recently released by the Warner Archive.

WHISTLING IN THE DARK was codirected by Elliott Nugent and Charles Reisner, from Nugent's screenplay. The screenplay was in turn based on a 1932 play by Laurence Gross and Edward Childs Carpenter.

Ernest Truex and Edward Arnold repeat their Broadway roles as crime writer Wally Porter and gangster Jacob Dillon. Una Merkel plays Wally's wealthy fiancee, Toby, who was played by Claire Trevor on Broadway.

Wally and Toby are eloping, as her father (Frederick Burton) doesn't like Wally, when their car breaks down in an isolated area. Fortunately there's a house nearby, so Wally heads there to use the phone, not realizing it's the hideout of mobster Dillon and his gang.

When Dillon learns Wally's identity, he decides to have him plan the perfect murder of a man the gang wants to bump off. Meanwhile Wally is also working on a plan so he and Toby can escape -- and also prevent the murder he just planned!

It's a pretty well-paced 79 minutes. It perhaps could have stood shaving off a couple of minutes, but the cast is engaging and the story moves along well, with some clever dialogue scattered here and there. I enjoyed it.

There are some fun "pre-Code" moments.  One of my favorite scenes comes after Wally and Toby are forced to spend the night together. Toby's father asks "What have you done to my daughter?" and she gleefully exclaims "Practically everything!" so that her father will force them to marry. It's simultaneously innocent, by modern standards, and racy.

WHISTLING IN THE DARK was filmed by Norbert Brodine. The supporting cast includes Nat Pendleton, C. Henry Gordon, Johnny Hines, Joseph Cawthorn, Marcelle Corday, and Sam McDaniel.

Aside from an occasional scratch, this is a very good print, especially given the film's age. The soundtrack is also in fine condition. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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