powered by AFI
Although a print of this film was not viewed, the above summary and credits were taken from a cutting continuity included in the copyright records. Both Ernest Truex, who made his sound film debut in this picture, and Edward Arnold appeared in the original Broadway production of Lawrence Gross and Edward Childs Carpenter's play and reprised their stage roles in the movie. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Chuck Reisner "co-directed" the film with Elliott Nugent after Nugent became ill. Film Daily and Hollywood Reporter news items announced Maureen O'Sullivan, May Robson and Muriel Evans as possible stars. A Hollywood Reporter news item announced Walter Percival as a cast member, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed.
Files in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicate that, prior to production, the Hays Office expressed concern that the scenes dealing with the plotting of "Barfuss'" murder were too graphic and exact. In particular, the Office was concerned about repeated references to the specific poison to be used in the crime and descriptions of its application. In a letter dated December 7, 1932 to M-G-M production head Irving G. Thalberg, Dr. James Wingate, Director of the Studio Relations Office of the AMPP, suggested that the poison be mentioned only once in the picture and also cautioned that "scenes between Wally and Toby concerning spending the night" be handled with care. He notes that "the presence of the bed ought not to be emphasized since the censors are becoming increasingly sensitive about this item of furniture." When New York State censors screened the finished film, they demanded that the murder plotting scenes be cut significantly before they would allow the picture to be distributed. W. D. Kelly of M-G-M's New York office complained to Wingate that the local censors were taking the film too seriously-that "they see and hear the picture...without an audience and without reaction of any kind." Kelly added that, after attending a performance of the stage play and hearing the audience's laughter, he was convinced that no harm could come of the murder plotting scenes. Although Kelly's argument persuaded Irwin Esmond, New York State's Director of Censorship, Motion Picture Division, to drop the matter during production, MPAA/PCA records show that the New York censors continued to demand eliminations during the film's release.
In 1941, S. Sylvan Simon directed another M-G-M version of Gross and Carpenter's play, also titled Whistling in the Dark, starring Red Skelton and Ann Rutherford.