Whistling in the Dark (1941): Sylvan Simon’s Comedy, Starring Red Skelton

S. Sylvan Simon directed Whistling in the Dark, the first of three comedies, starring Red Skelton as Wally “the Fox” Benton, a man who writes and acts in radio murder mysteries.

The film was based on the Broadway play of the same name by Laurence Gross and Edward Childs Carpenter.

Wally Benton (Skelton) is the star of a mystery series on radio, The Fox, which he writes, inventing for each episode a crime that has “only one loophole” so the criminal can be caught.  About to elope with Carol Lambert (Ann Rutherford), his agent (Eve Arden) tells him that he must go out with the sponsor’s daughter, Fran Post (Virginia Grey), or risk his show being canceled.

Wally is kidnapped by a greedy cult leader (Conrad Veidt), who threatens to kill Wally’s girlfriend and another young woman unless he concocts a perfect murder. 

The role of Carol Lambert was portrayed in all three films by Ann Rutherford.

Uncredited contributing writer Elliott Nugent wrote and directed the earlier film adaptation of the same name.

Two sequels followed: Whistling in Dixie (1942) and Whistling in Brooklyn (1943).

Red Skelton as Wally Benton
Conrad Veidt as Joseph Jones
Ann Rutherford as Carol Lambert
Virginia Grey as “Fran” Post
Rags Ragland as Sylvester (as “Rags” Ragland)
Henry O’Neill as Philip Post
Eve Arden as “Buzz” Baker
Paul Stanton as Jennings
Don Douglas as Gordon Thomas
Don Costello as “Noose” Green


I am grateful to TCM for showing the film on January 22, 2020.