Whispering Footsteps (1943)
Directed by Howard Bretherton
Produced by George Blair
Screenplay by Dane Lussier, Gertrude Walker
Story by Gertrude Walker
Cinematography by Jack A. Marta
Edited by Ralph Dixon
Music by Mort Glickman
My Noirvember started with low-budget movies and it ends today with one final Poverty Row entry, Whispering Footsteps, a noir about murder and something that can be just as deadly: small town gossip.
Marcus Borne (John Hubbard) is back home from a vacation in Indianapolis when he learns from a radio report that a young woman was killed in the city while he was there. Even worse, the radio report describes the killer, whose description is almost exactly like that of Marcus.
Everyone at the boarding house where Marcus lives grows suspicious, and they don’t mind sharing their suspicions. And the “evidence” keeps building. When another woman is found murdered in a field, Marcus shows up with muddy shoes. Well, there you have it, right? Soon even Marcus’s boss tells him he needs to stay away from his job at the bank for a few days.
As the pressure mounts, only one woman, Helene LaSalle (Joan Blair) believes Marcus is innocent, but she’s having a hard time convincing anyone of his innocence since she’s the town’s “loose woman.”
Part of the fun in this film comes from identifying all the actors who would appear in the Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life (another Republic picture) three years later: Charles Halton (the bank president here, the bank examiner in It’s a Wonderful Life), Dick Elliott (a police officer here, the “Why don’t you kiss her?” guy in the Capra film), and Charles Williams (Marcus’s coworker, and George Bailey’s cousin Eustace).
Whispering Footsteps is super low-budget, but it works, helped by a powerful ending that you don’t often see in Poverty Row cheapies. All this plus they keep it under an hour. Believe me, I’ve spent worse hours.
I’d like to thank everyone who joined me on my Noirvember 2020 journey, looking at both low-budget noir titles as well as several of noir titles from around the world during the Noir City International virtual film festival. In the next few days, I’ll have a special Film Noir Holiday Gift Guide for you. Until then, stay safe and watch some great noir regardless of what month it is.