It has often been written that MGM couldn’t “do” comedy, and indeed, some of Red Skelton’s best starring comedy roles came when he was loaned out to other studios (e.g., “The Yellow Cab Man” and “The Fuller Brush Man”). But, MGM did a decent to superb job in this trio of films. What’s interesting about this trio of films — the Whistling Collection — is that you have an opportunity to see Skelton transformed as an emerging star. The first film in the trilogy is “Whistling In The Dark”, and it’s a tentative Skelton here in a fast-paced, not so smoothly written story with some cool performances by Conrad Veidt and Eve Arden. The second installment (“Whistling In Dixie”) is better produced, but perhaps a tad slower, with a fine supporting role by Guy Kibbee. The gem of the trio is the third in the series — “Whistling In Brooklyn”. This film is quite polished with a great blend of snappy dialog, one-liners, and slapstick. You’ll enjoy the appearance of the real Brooklyn Dodgers, including one funny scene with a young Leo Durocher. You’ll also recognize Ray Collins from Perry Mason fame, although here he is the villain. The elevator scene, though far-fetched, is great slapstick, and while the baseball segment almost slows the film down a bit, it’s got some great sight gags.
A constant in all three films is Ann Rutherford as Red’s love interest, and you’ll remember her from “Gone With The Wind” (one of Scarlett’s sisters); she’s a good comedy foil here. Rags Ragland is the comedy sidekick, although his roles change from one picture to the next, from villain in the first film to villain and good guy in the second film (twin brothers), to good guy in the final film. It’s in the last film that the exchanges between Skelton and Ragland really shine.
But again, what’s most interesting in this film series is watching Red Skelton mature as a leading comedy actor. By the third film he is clearly quite confident and, surprisingly, a smooth romantic lead, while still excelling at the comedy. You can see why Skelton was becoming a threat to top comedian Bob Hope (who gets mentioned in each of the last two films) over at Paramount. I had seen each of these films previously, but never over consecutive nights, and that was a pleasure.
The quality of the prints is excellent, including the sound, particularly in “Whistling In Brooklyn”. Thanks and kudos to Warner Brothers for their Archive Collection!
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Great–as is usual for Red Skelton– makes one laugh !!!
My husband is a fan- He would tell me if there was anything wrong.
Came quickly/good condition. Thanks
After buying two horrible copies of The Eve Arden Show and Our Miss Brooks Vol. 1 of the TV series, I was pleasantly surprised at the clarity and sound of the “Whistling In” trilogy. They were normal dvd quality and I’d recommend purchasing them as they’re very difficult to find on dvd.