WHISTLING IN THE DARK (1941). Director: S. Sylvan Simon.
It's easy to see why this comedy-thriller starring the likable Red Skelton was so popular, engendering a couple of sequels. Skelton plays a radio detective called The Fox, who is kidnapped by the head of a cult (Conrad Veidt) who wants him to help him and his gang come up with a way to bump off a certain individual without the crime being traced back to them. The victim is the nephew of a wealthy woman who left money to the cult, only they can't collect it until the nephew is deceased. Skelton's colleague and fiancee Ann Rutherford (pictured), as well as his boss's daughter (Virginia Grey) – who has a yen for him -- are also kidnapped to put pressure on Skelton. Skelton comes up with a murder plot but tries to outwit his captors and save the life of the nephew, who is due to be poisoned while traveling on an airplane. While the movie is certainly never as nail-biting or cinematic as a Hitchcock picture, it does manage a good mixture of genuine suspense and laughs. The performances are all top-notch – Rutherford is particularly effective – and Mariska Aldridge is a riot as the hatchet-faced Hilda.
Verdict: Lots of fun. ***.