Wally Benton (Red Skelton) is the star of a wildly successful mystery radio program called “The Fox”.  Each week Wally creates and solves a murder mystery on air.  His co-star and fiancé is Carol Lambert (Ann Rutherford).  Wally and Carol have plans to elope.  Wally’s agent, Buzz Baker (Eve Arden) is trying to fix Wally up with the station owner’s daughter, Fran Post (Virginia Grey) in order to ensure that Wally’s contract is renewed.  Wally promises to go out with Fran but plans on standing her up in order to elope with Carol. 

In the meantime, Joseph Jones (Conrad Veidt) runs a cult called Silver Haven.  Jones scams little old ladies out of their money by pretending to run a religious retreat.  One of his benefactors dies leaving her estate to Silver Haven.  There is, however, one caveat to the will that states that her nephew, Harvey Upshaw (Lloyd Corrigan) is allowed to live off the interest of the estate.  When he dies the balance of the money will go to Silver Haven. 

Not wanting to wait until Harvey dies of natural death, Jones plans on bumping off the heir as soon as possible.  Hearing about Wally and his show, Jones has his minions kidnap Wally.  Jones wants Wally to concoct a plan to kill Harvey in a way that makes it appear to be natural causes.  To ensure that Wally complies with the request, Jones has both Carol and Fran kidnapped as well.  In order to try to save himself and the women, Wally must come up with a plan to kill a man he has never met before.

“Whistling in the Dark” was released in 1941 and was directed by S. Sylvan Simon.  It is an American crime comedy “B” movie.  This was the first of three films MGM did featuring Red Skelton as the character Wally ‘The Fox’ Benton.  The other two films were “Whistling in Dixie” 1942 and “Whistling in Brooklyn” 1943.  The film is based on the play by Lawrence Gross and Edward Childs Carpenter.  It is also a remake of the film done in 1933 starring Ernest Truex, Una Merkel and Edward Arnold.

Heavy on the comedy, but light on the crime, the movie is light and a bit silly.  In his first starring role, Skelton plays the character Wally “The Fox” Benton, an apparent jack-of-all-trades as demonstrated by his ability to use a radio as a telephone.  The plot is idiotic and unbelievable but since comedy is the main feature of the film, crazy is fine.

Conrad Veidt, one of my favorite evil guys, usually plays Nazi spies.  This time he gets to do a little comedy, even though he is still cast as a villain.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t get as much screen time as I would have liked. 

Red Skelton’s style of humor is similar to Bob Hope but a little lower key.  The physical comedy and the one liners are similar in delivery but Skelton doesn’t break the third wall as obviously as Hope did, nor does he laugh at his own jokes as much.

All in all, it was an entertaining bit of fluff.

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