The Secret of the Whistler and The Thirteenth Hour

The Secret of the Whistler
George Sherman (U.S., 1946)

New Print

The life of the artist is a lonely one; that of the artist's wife, even lonelier. We meet the wealthy and terminally ill Edith Harrison (Mary Currier) as she orders her own tombstone; we meet her husband Ralph (Dix), a painter, as he dances with an elegant blonde who is not Edith. The blonde (lissome Leslie Brooks) is an artist's model not in it for art's sake, quite willing to offer Ralph the companionship he craves while awaiting Edith's legacy—but the legacy will be more than either of them bargained for. With notably eccentric compositions and an appropriately cynical tone—even Ralph's friends seem to have nothing but contempt for him—Secret is a fine addition to the Whistler's gallery of artful ironies.

Followed by:
The Thirteenth Hour
William Clemens (U.S., 1947)

New Print

Stopping to give a stranger a lift changes the course of a life in this impossibly eventful saga of bad luck and bad choices. Naturally, the life and the luck (or lack of it) belong to the Richard Dix character, Steve, a truck driver who runs off the road and straight into big trouble. Picked up by a cop who’s also his romantic rival, he’s threatened with losing his livelihood, then implicated in a killing; the Whistler’s voice seems to echo in his mind: “You didn’t kill him, but will anyone believe you?” The punchy plot packs a dizzying number of blind curves into its sixty-five minutes, yet the film still finds time for comedy and sly references to earlier Whistler works, like the copy of Studies in Necrophobia that inexplicably turns up in the possession of an innocent preteen. as Steve flees from increasingly outrageous persecutions, Dix’s exhaustion feels poignantly real; this would be the final film of his career.

—Juliet Clark

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