Pulp Fiction: Whiplash (1948)

Everyone knows someone who tries too hard. Sometimes it’s an endearing quality, other times it’s as annoying as hell. That description fits 1948’s Whiplash to a T. It has so much plot that it makes no sense at times BUT it’s as entertaining as all get out. I’ll take an overstuffed story over a boring one any day.

Whiplash begins in California where Dane Clark and his big hair meet and fall in love with Alexis Smith. She’s a woman with a secret that’s revealed when she returns to New York and the unloving arms of husband Zachary Scott who plays another weaselly villain. He was typecast but Jeffrey Lynn was not. Lynn was best known for his clean-cut upright characters. In this movie, he plays Alexis Smith’s alcoholic brother. He’s the reason that Scott had a hold on Smith.

Whiplash turns into a boxing movie when Zachary Scott decides to train Dane Clark. The boxing scenes are goofy, but Clark’s trainer is played by Alan Hale. I’m always glad to see the dad of the skipper from Gilligan’s Island. I was confused the first time I saw Alan Hale Sr. What was the skipper doing with Errol Flynn instead of Bob Denver?

That’s all the plot summary I’ve got for except for this: Zachary Scott’s death scene is one of the greatest in movie history. It’s as good as Jimmy Cagney’s in The Roaring Twenties in which Jeffrey Lynn played a more typical character.

Movies in 1948 felt the need to have comic relief characters. Whiplash has two of the best: Eve Arden and SZ Sakall. I’m always glad to see both of them. I long to have Cuddles Sakall cook or make cocktails for me. As his character in Christmas In Connecticut would say, that would be hunky dunky.

Whiplash was directed by journeyman Lewis Seiler with a script by Maurice Geraghty and Harriet Frank. Ms. Frank would go on to work with director Martin Ritt on pictures such as Hud and Norma Rae; both were nominated for Oscars. There were no nominations for Whiplash.

Grading Time: I was on the bubble about Whiplash, it’s neither a good movie nor a bad one. I decided to be kind. I give it 3 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B- for its entertainment value.

It’s poster time. There were NO whips involved in the making of the movie or lashes for that matter.

Do you know what time it is? It’s time to go to the lobby:

Now that we’ve conga lined with movie treats, let’s check out the lobby cards for this goofy but wildly entertaining flick.

Warner Brothers chose sepia-toned images for this black and white movie, not color. I wish I had a good pun for sepia, but I don’t.

This British lobby card is in black and white and shows Dane Clark trying to disarm Jeffery Lynn.

If you’re NOT feeling gun shy, let’s hop aboard the trailer:

The last word goes to Eddie Muller with his Noir Alley intro and outro. I like the movie more than he does. It had to happen.