Spoiler Alert! I may ruin not one but two cheesy thriller movies with today’s and tomorrow’s posts. Then again, I think most reviewers give away too much, and theatrical trailers sometimes give it ALL away. People are still watching movies. I can’t destroy too much.
Every Saturday morning I scan the listings for TCM for the weekend. Perhaps I will subscribe to their program guide and do this by the month including weekdays. Then again, how many movies do I have time to watch? Not enough, I tell you! (With a wrist to my forehead, of course.) (But I digress.)
Two Saturdays ago I DVR’d a promising entry called The Whistler. Something about some guy hiring a hit man then wanting to call if off. It was when I saw that it was directed by William Castle that I reached for the remote. As cheesy as Ed Wood and more prolific. I suppose personally Castle was less colorful, or maybe Tim Burton would have made a movie about him, too. (As a side note: I just remembered that the sadly overlooked 1992 movie Matinee, starring John Goodman and Cathy Moriarty was inspired by William Castle. So there, Burton; you missed a bet.)
I had not had a chance to watch The Whistler before the following Saturday, when I noticed a listing for The Power of the Whistler. It must be a sequel, I thought. The description when I hit “info” did not say so, nor could I find it in Steve’s Leonard Maltin book (which is almost a cheesy bonafide in itself). But really, what else could it be?
Steven and I watched both movies last Sunday. The Whistler opens eerily with the mysterious shadow of a man and the sound of whistling. Voiceover narration introduces the story. I am not a fan of voiceover narration, but sometimes we must live with these things.
The main guy hires a hit man using an intermediary and only gives the guy a name and address. Then we find out that the name and address are HIS OWN (see, that’s why I needed the Spoiler Alert). It seems he has been having dreadful mental problems which have been effecting his unnamed business (movie people are often employed in Business the nature of which is never fully explained; I think that is because movie writers have never had a real job, don’t quite know how the rest of the world works, and can’t be bothered doing research) (I would have loved have been a movie writer during the studio era) (although it didn’t do William Holden much good in Sunset Boulevard) (but, once again, I digress).
Where was I? Ah yes, main guy’s mental problems stem from the unvoiced belief of his friends that he was responsible for his wife’s death. It’s a complicated backstory, and I don’t know as the details are all that important. When he finds our via telegram (it’s a OLD movie!) that his wife isn’t dead after all, he wants to live again (all you husbands out there just be quiet; I know what joke you were about to make). Unfortunately, the middle man has been killed and the actual hit man is elusive. What do do? What to do?
Cut to the hired murderer, who is the most interesting character in the picture. He’s reading a psychology book (I stupidly did not write down the title and I already deleted the movie from my DVR) and decides he is going to try to scare the guy to death.
And then a bunch of other stuff happens. Hey, alert notwithstanding, I don’t what to spoil EVERYTHING!
Where is the Whistler during all this? Around, apparently. We occasionally hear whistling and see a shadow. At least one guy is opportunely killed, and the hit man says he is not responsible. The Whistler also has a final voiceover at the end.
The convoluted plot made for some interest, but I was not sorry to pause the movie some twenty minutes before the end and take the dog for a walk. In other words, the suspense wasn’t killing me. I did go back and watch the end, though, so it didn’t completely lose me. It was a short movie (it had that going for it), so we continued the movie watching portion of our evening with The Power of the Whistler, which provides the subject for tomorrow’s blog post. Stay tuned.