The Return of the Whistler

Last updated
The Return of the Whistler
Return of Whistler 1948 small.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by D. Ross Lederman
Screenplay byEdward Bock
Maurice Tombragel
Story by Cornell Woolrich
(short story "All at Once, No Alice")
Based on The Whistler
1942-55 radio series
by J. Donald Wilson
Produced by Rudolph C. Flothow
StarringMichael Duane
Lenore Aubert
Dick Lane
Narrated byOtto Forrest
Cinematography Philip Tannura
Edited by Dwight Caldwell
Music by Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Larry Darmour Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • March 18, 1948 (1948-03-18)(United States)
Running time
60 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Return of the Whistler is a 1948 American mystery film noir based on the radio drama The Whistler . Directed by D. Ross Lederman, the production features Michael Duane, Lenore Aubert, and Dick Lane. This is the eighth and final entry in Columbia Pictures' "Whistler" series, produced in the 1940s. This was the only film in this series that did not star Richard Dix. [1]



Ted's (Michael Duane) car breaks down in a small town. He leaves his fiancee Alice (Lenore Aubert) at a hotel while he goes to the next town to get his car fixed. When he returns the next morning, she is missing. He requests to speak with the night clerk who tells him she checked out 30 minutes after he left the night before. He has a slight altercation with the night clerk at which point the police are summoned. The police do not suspect foul play and ask Ted to leave the hotel. When he leaves, a private detective, Gaylord Traynor (Richard Lane) follows him and offers his services to locate Ted's fiancee. On the drive back to the city and Ted's apartment, Ted tells Mr. Traynor the story of how they met and Mr. Traynor implies Ted has been conned. When they arrive at Ted's apartment all of Alice's belongings are still there. Ted gives Mr. Traynor a picture of Alice and finds her marriage certificate. Mr. Taynor knocks out Ted, steals the marriage certificate and leaves. It seems that Mr. Traynor was working for Mr. Barkley to find Alice and retrieve the marriage certificate.

Ted tracks down Alice by her husband's name from the marriage certificate. The husband, Mr. Barkley (James Cardwell) is there (not dead as Alice had claimed to Ted) and tells Ted that Alice has spells where she does not remember who she is and claims she is being held against her will and then escapes. Mr Barkley offers to allow Ted to speak with her so he can hear from her own mouth that she is still married. After Ted leaves, it is clear Alice is being held against her will after all. The people holding her captive were her in-laws. They were holding her captive because she was the heir to the Barkley estate, having inherited it from her husband. The in-laws did not want to lose the estate to Alice.

Ted returns to his apartment still unsettled about Alice's circumstances, but still not being able to prove she is being held against her will. In the glove box of his car he finds her passport. He discovers she has only been in the country, from France, for a few weeks, not the several years Alice's husband asserted. Since Alice was forced into admitting she is married to Mr. Barkley, Ted must prove on his own that Mr. Barkley is lying.

Ted goes back to the Barkley house and is attacked by a dog. The grounds keeper tells Ted the family has left for good and has put Alice in a rest home because her "bad spells" have been getting worse. Ted runs off after finding out the name of the doctor treating her.

Mr. Traynor is still investigating the case and he has found a picture of Alice and her husband, but the man in the picture is not the Mr. Barkley whom Mr. Traynor and Ted have met. Ted goes to the hospital where Alice is being held and finds her just as the in-laws arrive to finish the financials with the doctor. An altercation ensues between Mr. Barkley and Ted when Mr. Traynor arrives with police, exposing the true story.

Ted and Alice are seen in the final scene walking into a wedding chapel together.



Critical response

Film critic Dennis Schwartz generally liked the film, and wrote, "D. Ross Lederman ( Texas Cyclone / Adventure in Iraq / Two-Fisted Law ) skillfully directs the last of the eight entries in Columbia's superior Whistler mystery series, that was based on a popular radio show at the time. It was the only episode without the film's previous star Richard Dix, who retired. Dix's presence is missed. He was not a continuous character, but he added a certain spark to the characters whether as the dubious private detective or villain ... The first half was exciting, but in the second half when we learn what all the mystery means the film loses its power and deadens ... The less than compelling payoff has the engineer tracking his fiance to the asylum and rescuing her with the help of the guilt-ridden private dick, who changes allegiances when he's convinced the family who hired him are criminals." [2]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Divorcee</i> 1930 film

The Divorcee is a 1930 American pre-Code drama film written by Nick Grindé, John Meehan, and Zelda Sears, based on the 1929 novel Ex-Wife by Ursula Parrott. It was directed by Robert Z. Leonard, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, and won Best Actress for its star Norma Shearer.

<i>When a Man Loves a Woman</i> (film) 1994 American film

When a Man Loves a Woman is a 1994 American romantic drama film directed by Luis Mandoki and starring Andy García, Meg Ryan, Tina Majorino, Mae Whitman, Ellen Burstyn, Lauren Tom and Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was written by Al Franken and Ronald Bass.

<i>In a Lonely Place</i> 1950 film by Nicholas Ray

In a Lonely Place is a 1950 American film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, produced for Bogart's Santana Productions. The script was written by Andrew P. Solt from Edmund H. North's adaptation of Dorothy B. Hughes' 1947 novel of the same name.

<i>Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love</i>

Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love is a 1994 American made-for-television comedy film, a sequel to the 1984 film Revenge of the Nerds, and the final installment in the Revenge of the Nerds series.

<i>The Door in the Floor</i> 2004 film by Kip Williams

The Door in the Floor is a 2004 American drama film written and directed by Tod Williams. The screenplay is based on the first third of the 1998 novel A Widow for One Year by John Irving.

<i>The Gay Sisters</i> 1942 film by Irving Rapper

The Gay Sisters is a 1942 American drama film directed by Irving Rapper, and starring Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Donald Crisp, Gig Young and Nancy Coleman. The Warner Bros. motion picture was based on a novel by Stephen Longstreet.

<i>2001: A Space Travesty</i> 2000 Canadian film

2001: A Space Travesty is a 2000 sci-fi comedy film directed by Allan A. Goldstein and starring Leslie Nielsen, Ophélie Winter, Peter Egan, and Ezio Greggio. The film has a few sequences parodying elements of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but is not focused on parodying that film alone. Filming took place in Los Angeles, California.

<i>Week-End at the Waldorf</i> 1945 American comedy drama film directed by Robert Zigler Leonard

Week-End at the Waldorf, an American comedy drama film directed by Robert Z. Leonard and starring Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon, and Van Johnson. It premiered in Los Angeles on 17 October 1945. The screenplay by Samuel and Bella Spewack is based on playwright Guy Bolton's stage adaptation of the 1929 Vicki Baum novel Grand Hotel, which had been filmed as Grand Hotel in 1932.

<i>Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid</i> 1948 film by Irving Pichel

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid is a 1948 American romantic fantasy film directed by Irving Pichel starring William Powell and Ann Blyth in the title roles. The film was based on the 1945 novel Peabody's Mermaid by Guy and Constance Jones. Sequences were shot at the Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida.

<i>The Great Mans Lady</i> 1942 film

The Great Man's Lady is a 1942 American Western film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea. It is based on the short story "The Human Side" by Viña Delmar.

<i>Passport to Destiny</i> 1944 film by Ray McCarey

Passport to Destiny is a 1944 RKO Radio Pictures war film, starring Elsa Lanchester as an English charwoman who, believing herself invulnerable by being protected by a magic eye amulet, travels to Nazi Germany to personally assassinate Adolf Hitler.

My Sister Eileen is a 1955 American CinemaScope comedy musical film directed by Richard Quine. It stars Janet Leigh, Betty Garrett, and Jack Lemmon.

<i>Voice of the Whistler</i> 1945 film by William Castle

Voice of the Whistler is a 1945 American mystery film noir directed by William Castle and starring Richard Dix, Lynn Merrick, and Rhys Williams. It was the fourth of Columbia Pictures' eight "Whistler" films produced in the 1940s, all based on the radio drama The Whistler.

<i>Kept Husbands</i> 1931 film by Lloyd Bacon

Kept Husbands is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Lloyd Bacon, starring Dorothy Mackaill and Joel McCrea, with major supporting roles filled by Robert McWade, Florence Roberts and Mary Carr. The original story was written by the film's associate producer, Louis Sarecky, and adapted for the screen by Forrest Halsey and Alfred Jackson. Although primarily a drama, the film has many comedic touches to it. The film centers around the class struggles and stereotypes between the working class and the wealthy, which was particularly striking during the Depression era when this film was made. The film also points out the stereotypical gender roles which were prevalent at that time.

<i>In the Name of Love: A Texas Tragedy</i>

In the Name of Love: A Texas Tragedy is a 1995 American film loosely based on the story of Ralph Hand III, and his ex-wife Olivia Browning. It aired September 12, 1995 on FOX.

<i>The Whistler</i> (1944 film) 1944 film by William Castle

The Whistler is a 1944 American mystery film noir directed by William Castle and starring Richard Dix, Gloria Stuart and J. Carrol Naish. Based on the radio drama The Whistler, it was the first of Columbia Pictures' eight "Whistler" films starring Richard Dix produced in the 1940s. The film will be under copyright until 2040 due to renewal.

<i>The Secret of the Whistler</i> 1946 film by George Sherman

The Secret of the Whistler is a 1946 American mystery film noir based on the radio drama The Whistler. Directed by George Sherman, the production features Richard Dix, Leslie Brooks and Michael Duane. It is the sixth of Columbia Pictures' eight "Whistler" films produced in the 1940s, all but the last starring Dix.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lenore Aubert</span> American actress

Lenore Aubert was a model and Hollywood actress best known for her movie roles as exotic, mysterious women.

<i>Mysterious Intruder</i> 1946 film

Mysterious Intruder is a 1946 American mystery film noir based on the radio drama The Whistler. Directed by William Castle, the production features Richard Dix, Barton MacLane and Nina Vale. It is the fifth of Columbia Pictures' eight "Whistler" films produced in the 1940s, the first seven starring Dix.

<i>The Dangerous Age</i> 1923 film

The Dangerous Age is a 1923 American silent drama film directed by John M. Stahl and written by J.G. Hawks, Bess Meredyth, and Lenore Coffee. The film stars Lewis Stone, Cleo Madison, Edith Roberts, Ruth Clifford, Myrtle Stedman, and James Morrison. The film was released on February 4, 1923, by Associated First National Pictures.


  1. The Return of the Whistler at the TCM Movie Database.
  2. Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, October 7, 2012. Accessed: July 15, 2013.