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The Return of the Whistler

The Return of the Whistler(1948)


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Late one night, young civil engineer Ted Nichols and his French-born fiancée, widow Alice Dupres Barkley, brave rain-swept country roads hoping to find a justice of the peace who will perform an on-the-spot wedding. Their hopes are dashed, however, when they are told that the justice of the peace is away for the night. The couple's misfortunes soon multiply when their car, which has been tampered with by a mysterious man who has been following them, breaks down in a small town that has no available hotel rooms. Although Ted manages to get a room by bribing a hotel night clerk, he is later forbidden by the clerk from staying with Alice because they are not married. Ted leaves Alice at the hotel for the night and takes the car to a garage for repair, but when he returns the next morning, he finds that Alice has disappeared. The night clerk tells Ted that Alice fled to New York, but Ted refuses to accept the clerk's story. Overhearing the angry dispute between Ted and the hotel staff, private detective Gaylord Traynor offers his services to Ted and goes to his apartment with him. Traynor, however, is in the employ of Alice's husband's family, the Barkleys. Ted tells Traynor that he met Alice only two weeks earlier, and knows little more about her other than the fact that she is a widow who came to America from France in search of her husband's father. Ted also explains that he met Alice at his summer cottage while she was fleeing from her husband's cruel family. After Ted hands Traynor Alice's photograph and her marriage license, the detective knocks Ted unconscious and flees. Traynor delivers Alice's papers to the Barkleys, who have abducted the widow and are scheming to wrest away the fortunes she stands to inherit. Immediately after regaining consciousness, Ted goes to the Barkley estate, where he meets Charlie, who claims that he is Alice's husband John. Charlie, who is actually one of the scheming Barcleys, tells Ted that Alice suffers from mental delusions and occasionally believes that she is a widow. Ted is then taken to see Alice, who has been coerced into confirming the family's story. Later, the Barkleys commit Alice to a sanitarium to keep her out of their way. Ted questions whether the Barkleys have told him the truth and begins searching for Alice. He eventually finds her in a straight jacket at the Woodland Sanitarium, but when he attempts to escape with her, Charlie blocks his path. Ted manages to overpower Charlie, though, and Traynor, who, having discovered that he was hired by Charlie under false pretenses, arrives with the police in time to arrest Charlie and the rest of the Barkley family. With their troubles behind them, Ted and Alice resume their marriage plans and return to the justice of the peace.