AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Whistling in Brooklyn
Director: S. Sylvan Simon (Dir)
Release Date:   Dec 1943
Production Date:   5 Apr--early Jul 1943; addl scenes began mid-Aug 1943
Duration (in mins):   87-88
Duration (in feet):   7,824
Duration (in reels):   9
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Cast:   Red Skelton (Wally Benton)  
    Ann Rutherford (Carol Lambert)  
    Jean Rogers (Jean Pringle)  
    "Rags" Ragland (Chester)  
    Ray Collins (Grover Kendall)  
    Henry O'Neill (Inspector Holcomb)  
    William Frawley (Detective Ramsey)  
    Sam Levene (Creeper)  
    Arthur Space (Detective MacKenzie)  
    Robert Emmet O'Connor (Detective Finnigan)  
    Steve Geray (Whitey)  
    Howard Freeman (Steve Conlon)  
    Tom Dillon (Manager of The Beavers)  
    Frank Scannell (Joe)  
    Anthony Caruso (Fingers)  
    Oscar G. Hendrian (Joey)  
    Charles Sullivan (Harry)  
    Elliott Sullivan (Dutch)  
    Gil Perkins (Police sergeant)  
    John Wald (Studio announcer)  
    Clancy Cooper (Officer Slocum)  
    James Warren (Sound man)  
    Emmett Vogan (Harcourt)  
    Divonna Doxie (Quartette member)  
    Barbara Whitson (Quartette member)  
    Christine Stafford (Quartette member)  
    Dorothy Wilson (Quartette member)  
    Frank Pittman (Sound effects man)  
    Harry Saz (Sound effects man)  
    Chet Brandenberg (Painter)  
    Harvey Perry (Workman)  
    Loretta Rush (Confused matron)  
    Lee Phelps (Officer Toomey)  
    Donald Kerr (Cab driver)  
    Buddy Gorman (Newsboy)  
    Larry Harris (Newsboy)  
    Bobby Winkler (Newsboy)  
    Rudy Wissler (Newsboy)  
    William Haade (Sergeant)  
    Grant Withers (Reporter)  
    Charles Jordan (Reporter)  
    Jack Mulhall (Reporter)  
    Jack Carrington (Reporter)  
    John Bohn (Reporter)  
    Bert Moorhouse (Reporter)  
    Sammy Blum (Reporter)  
    Howard Mitchell (Officer)  
    William Bishop (Psychiatrist)  
    Eddie Dunn (Policeman)  
    Edgar Dearing (Policeman)  
    Harry Tyler (Gateman)  
    Billy Engle (Balloon vendor)  
    Dewey Robinson (Beaver coach)  
    Harry Strang (Gumbatz)  
    Billy Bletcher (Announcer)  
    Leo Durocher (Himself, Brooklyn Dodgers manager)  
    Mickey Owen (Himself, catcher)  
    Mitchell Lewis (Bearded spectator)  
    Dolph Camilli (Himself, first baseman)  
    Fred "Snowflake" Toones (Fan)  
    Mary Elliott (Veronica Lake look-alike)  
    Sheldon Jett (Suspicious man)  
    Bobo Newsom (Himself, Brooklyn Dodger)  
    Ducky Medwick (Himself, Brooklyn Dodger)  
    Arky Vaughan (Himself, Brooklyn Dodger)  
    Billy Herman (Himself, Brooklyn Dodger)  
    Freddie Steele (Brooklyn fan)  
    Richard Thorne (Brooklyn fan)  
    James Dundee (Brooklyn fan)  
    George Magrill (Brooklyn fan)  
    Sue Moore (Tough girl)  
    Charles Dorety (Drunk)  
    Morris Ankrum (Blake)  
    Kathleen Williams (Office girl)  
    Kay Medford (Phone operator)  
    Happy Felton (Radio announcer)  
    Sam Hayes (Baseball announcer)  
    Robert Sully (Assistant baseball announcer)  
    Mabel Smaney    
    Florence Turner    
    Lillian Yarbo    

Summary: After New York police inspector Holcomb discovers the slain body of Sergeant Malcolm in a Sheepshead Bay lighthouse, he concludes that the policeman was killed by the mysterious "Constant Reader," whose typed note led authorities to the spot. As with three previous murders about which Constant Reader has written, the note describes the crime scene in exact detail. Soon after, government reformer Grover Kendall criticizes Holcomb for his failure to solve the string of murders and gives him another Constant Reader note. This one directs the police to the body of a long-missing gangster. While dredging up the body from the Hudson River, Holcomb hears a broadcast of The Fox radio show, in which the crime-solving "Fox," played by Wally Benton, discusses a fictitious "murder" letter. Because Wally's fictitious letter bears a striking resemblance to the latest Constant Reader note, Holcomb declares Wally the killer. Before the police find him, however, Wally and his bride-to-be and co-star, Carol Lambert, are accosted in Wally's dressing room by cub reporter Jean Pringle. Jean, who was alerted to the performers' impending elopement by Chester, Wally's dim-witted assistant, begs to accompany them on their honeymoon, but Wally and Carol refuse. Chester, an aspiring publicist, then casually tells Jean that Wally is Constant Reader, making Jean all the more determined to follow the couple. Just as Wally is about to leave with Carol and Chester, the police show up to arrest him. Thinking that they have been sent by his co-workers as a prenuptial gag, Wally teases the police and is startled when they begin shooting at him. Confused, Wally flees in his car with Carol and Chester, an ex-convict who confesses that, as a publicity stunt, he wrote the last Constant Reader note on Wally's typewriter with information he had acquired from his old gangster friends. After Wally, Carol and Chester finally stop at a Brooklyn warehouse, Wally sends Chester to arrange a peaceful surrender with the police. Unknown to Chester, his call is overheard by someone at the station, who alerts gangster Creeper and his thugs to Wally's whereabouts. Wally and Carol, meanwhile, discover Jean hiding in their car trunk, and to Carol's annoyance, the reporter begins to flirt with Wally. Just then, Creeper and his gang arrive and open fire on Wally and his companions, who assume the attackers are policemen. The foursome seeks cover on top of a freight elevator, which then breaks and almost kills them. When the police finally arrive at the warehouse, they engage in a gunfight with the gangsters, whom they assume are Wally and his cohorts. After the police chase off the gangsters, Wally decides to disguise himself and sneak into the police station to discover what is happening. Chester joins Wally and, upon studying photographs of Constant Reader's victims, Chester realizes that they were all involved in the conviction of a notorious gang leader. Wally then concludes that Constant Reader's next victim will be Kendall, who spearheaded the investigation, and determines to save him. Unknown to Wally, Kendall is actually the secret head of Creeper's gang and is also Constant Reader. As soon as Wally and his friends burst into his house to warn him, Kendall imprisons them at gunpoint. Kendall, who intends to become the undisputed king of crime, then announces that he is going to stab Holcomb while he is seated next to him at a Brooklyn Dodgers game and frame Wally for his death. Although Creeper is assigned to guard the foursome, Wally manages to escape and rushes to the Dodgers' stadium, Ebbets Field. Unable to get close to the heavily guarded Holcomb and Kendall, Wally knocks out a pitcher for the opposing team, the bearded Beavers, and dons his uniform and long beard. While posing as the pitcher, Wally throws a baseball with a warning message on it to Holcomb, but Holcomb fails to see it. After Wally inadvertently tosses the ball into Kendall's hands, Kendall alerts the police that Wally is in the ballpark. Kendall then sets his murder plan into action, but is thwarted by Wally. Despite his heroics, Wally is unable to convince Holcomb of Kendall's guilt and is pursued through the ballpark by both the police and the gangsters. Escaping in a taxicab, Wally rushes to free his friends, unaware that Kendall has already instructed Creeper to dispose of them. At Kendall's, Wally finds a recording made unwittingly by Carol, in which Creeper reveals where he is taking his prisoners. After Wally sends the taxicab driver with the recording to Holcomb, he races to the docks, arriving just as Creeper and two other thugs are about to throw the chained-up Carol, Chester and Jean off a boat. Wally tricks the crooks into believing he is the police, then grabs one their guns and starts shooting off the chains. When his gun runs out of bullets, Creeper and the other thugs descend on him, and a long chase ensues. At the police station, meanwhile, the taxicab driver finally convinces Holcomb to listen to Carol's record, and the police head for the boat. By the time they arrive, however, Wally has already apprehended all of the criminals, including Kendall. At last cleared of suspicion, Wally enjoys a much-needed kiss from Carol and looks forward to his honeymoon. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: S. Sylvan Simon (Dir)
  Earl McEvoy (Asst dir)
  Al Raboch (Asst dir)
Producer: George Haight (Prod)
Writer: Nat Perrin (Scr)
  Wilkie Mahoney (Addl dial)
  Stanley Roberts (Contr to trmt and scr const)
Photography: Lester White (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Jack Martin Smith (Assoc)
Film Editor: Ben Lewis (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Mildred Griffiths (Assoc)
Costumes: Irene (Cost supv)
Music: George Bassman (Mus score)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (Spec eff)
Production Misc: Keith Weeks (Unit mgr)
Country: United States
Series: Whistling

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 24/9/1943 dd/mm/yyyy LP12334 Yes

PCA NO: 9430
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: Crime
 
Subjects (Major): Gangsters
  Murder
  New York City--Brooklyn
  Police
  Radio performers
 
Subjects (Minor): Baseball
  Beards
  Boats
  Brooklyn Dodgers (Baseball team)
  Chases
  Disguise
  Elopement
  Frame-ups
  Gunfights
  Impersonation and imposture
  Jealousy
  Letters
  Lighthouses
  Publicity stunts
  Recordings
  Reformers
  Taxicab drivers
  Warehouses
  Women reporters

Note: According to contemporary news items, three weeks of location shooting took place in Brooklyn, NY, and featured landmarks such as Ebbets Field, Prospect Park, Flatbush Avenue, the Williamsburg Bank Building and Manhattan Bridge. On 30 Mar 1943, HR announced that Bear Mountain, the Brooklyn Dodgers' training camp, also was to be used as a location, noting that the camp was available because of wartime restrictions that limited the amount of traveling that ball clubs could undertake. In addition to the Dodgers players listed in the CBCS, a 12 Sep 1943 NYT article lists Max Macon, Alex Kampouris, Ray Hayworth, Pat Ankenman, Newt Kimball and Hal Peck as cast members. Some of these athletes were reportedly cast as "Beaver" players, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The NYT article noted that many of the Brooklyn ball players who appeared in the picture had left the team by the time the picture was released. Carrie Koshnik and Hilda Chester, two real-life Brooklyn fans, were extras in the film, according to NYT . Garry Owen in listed in HR as a cast member, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Although HR announced that Vic Knight's song "I Love Coffee" had been purchased for the production, it was not performed in the film. According to a late Jul 1943 HR news item, M-G-M had intended to rush the release of Whistling in Brooklyn on the chance that the Dodgers made the World Series, but the Dodgers did not play in the Series, and the picture did not open until Dec 1943. For more information on the "Whistling" series, see below for Whistling in the Dark and consult the Series Index. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   9 Oct 1943.   
Daily Variety   29 Sep 43   p. 3, 5
Film Daily   29 Sep 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Mar 43   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Mar 43   p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 43   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Apr 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Apr 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Apr 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Jul 43   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jul 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Aug 43   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Aug 43   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Sep 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Mar 44   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald   2 Oct 1943.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   17 Jul 43   p. 1431.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   2 Oct 43   p. 1565.
New York Herald Tribune   19 Mar 1943.   
New York Times   11 Apr 1943.   
New York Times   12 Sep 1943.   
New York Times   24 Mar 44   p. 17.
Variety   29 Sep 43   p. 8.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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