Cast & Crew
Lee Selfredge Nugent, a derelict whose ill health has depleted his money and power, makes a desperate compromise with his conscience when he sees the name "Lee Nugent" among the dormant bank accounts listed in a newspaper column. Deciding to claim the money as his own, Lee goes to the last known address of the missing Lee Nugent and finds an empty lot. Discovering that the building burnt down in 1912, Lee researches newspaper files about the fire and learns that the other Lee Nugent lost his mother in the fire and was placed with a Children's Aid Society. Upon visiting the society, Lee discovers that the boy ran away in 1915 and has not been heard from since. Lee then proceeds to storekeeper Joe Sorsby's shop and offers Sorsby a one-hundred percent return on his investment if the storekeeper will provide him with a new suit and room and board. To protect his investment, Sorsby insists that Lee move into his apartment. Wearing his new suit, Lee goes to the bank to inquire about Lee Nugent's dormant account. Although Lee repeats the story of the missing Lee Nugent and shows Mr. Simmons, the bank officer, his social security card issued in the name of Lee Nugent, Simmons insists upon conducting a thorough investigation and tells Lee that he will notify him of the result in five days. Five days later, Lee receives a letter summoning him to the bank. There, Simmons informs Lee that the bank has decided to award him the $29,000 in the account, and Lee asks for the money in cash. Newspaper reporter Patricia Henley and her photographer learn of Lee's windfall, and when Lee leaves the bank, they rush to snap his photograph. In his haste to cover his face, Lee knocks over a crippled peddler named Limpy Smith. After paying off Sorsby, Lee buys three new suits and registers at an expensive hotel under the name of Lee Selfredge. Meanwhile, Eddie Donnelly, who holds a grudge against Lee Nugent, sees the newspaper story and vows revenge. The hotel bell captain, who is in Donnelly's employ, notifies him that Lee is a guest at the hotel and will be dining at the Club Royale that night. At the club, Pat, who has been assigned the nightclub beat, sees Lee and introduces herself. Lee invites Pat to join him, but when Donnelly arrives at the club and begins to stare, Lee becomes nervous and escapes through a bathroom window. Planning to return to his hotel, Lee hails a cab, but Limpy jumps into the vehicle and warns him that his hotel is being watched. When Limpy advises him to take the next bus out of town, Lee offers him fifty dollars to retrieve a tin box from his hotel room and deliver it to the bus station. Limpy accepts Lee's offer, and when he grabs the box, the lid flies open revealing the cash inside. Returning to the bus station, Limpy admits that he knows what the box contains and tells Lee his address in case he ever needs help. After Limpy leaves, Donnelly, who has followed him there, sits down next to Lee, handcuffs him and informs him that he is under arrest for the murder of a police officer. Lee is surprised when Donnelly fails to drive to police headquarters but instead stops his car at an apartment building. There, Donnelly tells Lee that their fathers were business partners and that Lee's father stole the firm's money and framed Donnelly's father for the crime. After showing Lee the elder Donnelly, whose mind snapped in prison, Donnelly announces that he plans to kill Lee for revenge. Donnelly scoffs at Lee's protests that he is impersonating Lee Nugent, and forces him back into the car. When the driver makes a wrong turn and stops at Limpy's street, Lee jumps out of the car and runs toward Limpy's address. Wounded by Donnelly, Lee knocks on Limpy's door. After allowing the fugitive to enter his apartment, Limpy announces that they are now both in danger because he is the real Lee Nugent. Drawn by the sound of gunshots, the police arrive and shoot Donnelly. Some time later, Pat and Limpy visit Lee in his hospital room and inform him that the bank is insisting on prosecuting him despite Limpy's pleas on his behalf. Limpy then tells Lee that he removed the cash from the tin box and plans to start a business with it and invites Lee to become a partner upon his release from prison.
The working title of this film was Dormant Account. As in the other pictures in the "Whistler" series, this film opens with the shadowy figure of "The Whistler," who whistles a haunting tune and then declares, "I am the Whistler, I know many strange tales." The voice of The Whistler also closed the story, revealing the fate of the protagonist. For additional information on the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry below for The Whistler.