Crime Melodrama (1942 - 55)
Most crime shows are pretty much alike. There is a crime, and therefore a criminal. Before we even know what the crime is, we know that justice will catch up with the criminal. That is just the way things work in Radio, crimes must be punished. Most of the time, the instruments of justice are agents of the police or the court system.
Sometimes a private investigator is the instrument of justice. While a public official doing his or her job is expected to combat crime, when the P.I. goes against the crooks he creates the image of an unwilling hero who comes to the defense of society, not because it is his job (although the P.I. expects to get paid), but because society needs to be defended.
The Whistler takes a slightly different approach to the punishment of crimes. While the standard instruments of justice are in place, it is the seemingly impartial hand of fate which dispenses justice.
The Whistler is told from the killers was told from the perspective of the murderers. The show was first produced by J. Donald Wilson and later George Allen directed rotating different radio stars like Joe Kerns, Cathy and Elliott Lewis, Betty Lou Gearson, Hans Conried, and more
George Allen produced and directed
this long running (1942-the mid '50s) series. Gerald Mohr, Frank Lovejoy (Nightbeat), Gale Gordon, Hans Conried, Jack Webb, Betty Lou Gerston,
Cathy and Elliot Lewis, Hans Conried, Wally Maher
and Lurene Tuttle are a few of radio's finest actors .
The star of the show, the whistling tune itself was performed by Dorothy Roberts. The Whistler Tune had 37 notes total. Wilber Hatch composed and directed the fine mood music.
The Whistler himself tells the story but is not part of it. He talks to the characters, although they do not hear him. "I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes... I know the nameless terrors of which they cannot speak."
Of course, the bad guys set up the perfect crime. They may or may not be justified in their crimes. They may be set upon a course of justifiable revenge, or they are protecting someone else from the clutches of someone even more nefarious. In other cases, they are simply above the law, and are getting someone out of the way. In every instance, they murderer has set up the perfect crime which they would get away with if fate did not step in and upset their careful plans.
In some of the stories, the killer finds himself facing the "Tall Gent with Robes and a Scythe", and the only one who could have saved him is the one who he already killed. Other times, the reason for the crime is resolved mere moments after the crime is committed. Murder is not something you can take back.
The omniscient horror host is a device used in a number of programs. The Traveler, The Man in Black and Raymond from The Inner Sanctum all seemed to take as much delight in the murder as they did the solving of the crime. The Whistler takes us into the mind of the killer, and whether we find remorse there or only insensate evil, the important thing is that justice will find the killer. Where The Inner Sanctum's Raymond shocked us with his quips about the body count, The Whistler reminds us that no matter how clever the killer is, justice will find him, and fate will have the last laugh.
The Whistler always finishes his stories
with fatalistic relish, and "the strange ending
to tonight's story" is rarely what one expects.
In the world of The Whistler, fate has a
few speedbumps for the hasty acts of the foolish!
Those with a taste for crime and the macabre will
enjoy the world of The Whistler.
See also Dark Fantasy, Escape, Inner
Sanctum, Lights Out, Mysterious
Traveler, Mystery in the Air, Suspense, and Weird