Whistle Stop (1946) – Movie Review

well noir vember continues and i’m
continuing to seek out old crime noir
classics this month and for today’s
review we’re going to be looking at the
movie whistlestop from 1946 starring
george raft and the gorgeous ava gardner
well the film opens up with ava
gardner’s character mary returning by
train back to this little small town and
heading home
once there she has coffee with molly
played by actress florence bates
and she says that you know she’s back
from chicago because she needs some
we’re not sure what the deal is though
because here she is dressed in mink with
a fancy gold cigarette case so
what’s the deal molly reveals to her
that kenny still lives there but he’s
probably out working on a big deal
and then we cut to kenny who is out
playing cards i get it big deal
kenny is played here by george raft who
is an excellent actor i’ve seen in
several other films on this channel
including invisible stripes and they
drive by night he’s a great actor i just
enjoy him in films like this so they’re
playing cards together and they start
talking about the character mary

like he and mary used to be a romantic
item long ago
but invariably it leads to a fight
and one of the players calms them down
you know with forget it kenny she’s no
good for you you know that type stuff
well the straight-laced character lou
lentz shows up with his well-trimmed
mustache and a i’m better than you
demeanor and he’s played here by tom
conway i’ve only seen him once
previously in the old classic
bride of the gorilla
so his character is sort of the big boss
guy and he orders the fellas to kind of
just clear out go clean up the bar and
well kenny heads home it’s morning at
this point and he finds out that mary is
there and he’s thrilled to see her but
then starts getting uppity about seeing
her fancy fur coat and stuff and asks
why she’s back and where’d she get all
that rich stuff and so on
and dude come on it’s ava gardner why
are you acting like this but they end
their squabble with a big kiss and a
crescendo of music from dimitri tiampkin
cut to a dinner scene where everyone is
sitting around laughing kenny mary and
molly are all there along with molly’s
daughter josie played by janet nye
and the character ernie shows up played
by charles drake who i just caught
recently as a bad guy in the film
tarzan’s magic fountain he was also in
the film conflict with bogart but here
he’s not a bad guy he’s just a lovable
goofball having a big serving of dinner
but dinner is soon interrupted as a
massive bouquet of flowers arrives it’s
for mary from that lou lentz character
kenny seems not too pleased and dinner
breaks down into a big yelling contest
of people complaining about kenny and
his gambling
what a swell place this is well kenny
and mary they head to town to go to a
club one that is run by lou apparently
mary thanks him for the flowers while
well as you can guess goes to the bar
for a drink the waitress fran played by
actress georgia kurt wright sees him and
she was apparently a former flame of
kenny long ago
but she seems unhappy to talk with him
mary stops at the bar and says hello to
get low played by actor victor mclagan
is this really big cool actor he was in
gunga dean i really like this guy and
he’s going to come into this film in a
pretty big role pretty soon well there’s
a brief dialogue with kenny and lou and
before you know it we go to a flashback
where we see kenny and lou beating each
other up
mary can’t take it and she leaves end of
the flashback
kenny splits and heads over to the train
station to help his friend run things
over there and to man the telegraph
man i love these old films it’s great he
covers for his friend who has a nasty
cough and he leaves and when does kenny
sleep well whatever
the character gitlo shows up he wants to
just chill out with kenny and play some
cards you know he laments how he doesn’t
like his job at the hotel he’s always
being watched by that lou character
but as kenny listens quietly gitlowe
runs down this scheme to basically kill
off lou and steal the proceeds from
lou’s annual fare hmm and kenny just
listens quietly kind of contemplating at
back at home kenny and mary have a quiet
talk on the porch about get low and lou
and everything going on and he tries to
plant a kiss but she pulls away you’re
hurting everyone kenny
well yeah
he’s the protagonist of a crime noir
film they usually do that type of thing
so we cut two
anyhow kenny and mary are at the fair
and they go dancing fran spots him and
angrily tells him not to come crawling
back to her again when mary leaves him
and man that laughing carnival clown
thing is just
freaky kenny’s scheme is interrupted
though when mary suspecting that he’s up
to something criminal with that get low
character stops him and after giving him
a kiss calls him out on the fact that
he’s carrying a gun with him
well kenny was figured out he goes back
home dejected and squabbles with the
family at the table because yeah this
film seems to be about those key themes
of drinking smoking and family
arguments kenny goes off to visit fran
at the hospital she was injured in a
dancing accident at the fair
come on don’t underestimate the
seriousness of county fair dancing
it happens
well they have a sad conversation that
turns into her accusingly saying
how does it feel to love someone who
doesn’t give a darn about you
and yes she really does say doesn’t give
a darn i love these old movies she yells
at him to leave and he goes her words
echoing in his head
crime noir style well after a few drinks
he goes off to lou’s club and gets into
a fight with him but shortly after
during the day of the wedding of ernie
and florence
lou sends a message through gitlow
to bring kenny over he wants to shake
hands with him and make peace and be his
okay it’s a little weird so they go off
to his office but oh no they discover
that lou is laying dead on the ground
with get low’s gun
uh oh
so kenny and gitlow they flee the police
are chasing him kenny gets shot in the
arm and the two of them go into hiding
eventually hitching a ride on the
eastbound freight they wind up in
detroit i think and they stay with
estelle carmel myers kenny’s in bad
shape here and he’s in bed he needs a
doctor but he’s also growing suspicious
of get low
was this part of his scheme was this
maybe part of lou’s scheme to blame him
for the shooting is lou really dead
what will happen will he ever see mary
again well you gotta see the end of this
film to find out for yourself
quick closing thoughts this one wasn’t
bad although the film seemed to
viscerally smell of cigarette smoke and
booze and from the reviews of the film i
they seemed largely negative that the
plot was flimsy and the film’s kind of
poor quality i can give him that but you
know i did like the performances of
george raft and ava gardner here as well
as the supporting actors you know there
was enough of a dark atmosphere
and brooding feeling to it all to really
give it a nice
crime noir edge if it is a little bit
and this was one of gardner’s very first
substantial roles and it’s the first
film i’ve ever reviewed with her on my
channel and she does have an amazing
screen presence now she was a gorgeous
actress but
opposite george raft
don’t get me wrong he’s an amazing actor
but he’s also about 20 years her senior
here so the romantic scenes aren’t
completely convincing
and the flashback in the film where they
go even further back to a younger age is
kind of hard to believe but to his
credit here he’s got that edgy
sinister character to him that really
works well in a crime film like this one
you know it’s not perfect but i enjoyed
it and again a note about victor
mcglaglin he was very notable in this
role here i just
he fits in a crime film you know he’s
got that big burly
criminal looking face
i caught him in gugadine and he’s got
those the features and that gravelly
voice really does a great job here as
kenny’s friend
and in trying to do a little bit of
research i could not find much trivia
about this film on internet movie
database around turner i have one book
on old crime noir films i was reading
and it had a brief mention of this that
it’s an effective noir for the first two
and then turns into a quote cinematic
wild goose chase
now i’ll give them that
it was directed by leonide magui and i’m
not sure if this one is in the public
domain or not
but as of november 2021 it is streaming
on amazon prime if you want to check it
that’s whistleblower from 1946 it was an
enjoyable crime noir film it’s worth
checking out

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