Cast & Crew
As soon as renowned American detective Stephen "Whispering" Smith arrives in London on vacation, he is waylaid by pretty Anne Carter, who runs the English branch of a New York publishing company. Over lunch, Anne tells the flirtatious Smith that her employer's daughter, Sylvia Garde, an American educated in England, died some months before and her best friend, Louise Balfour, disappeared shortly thereafter. Even though the police ruled Sylvia's death a suicide, her father believes she was murdered, and Anne asks Smith to look into the matter. When the skeptical Smith accuses Anne of grandstanding, she storms out of the restaurant and is almost run over by a speeding car. Smith pulls Anne to safety, and afterward, agrees to take her case. Anne informs Smith that just before Sylvia's death, her father paid her gambling debts when a stranger showed up in New York demanding money. Suspecting blackmail, Smith visits Sylvia's lawyer, Hector Reith, who maintains that the vivacious Sylvia committed suicide because she was depressed over money. Reith sends Smith to Sylvia's fiancé, Roger Ford, who inherited her lakeside cottage, Ivanhoe. Ford, an amateur puppeteer, speaks lovingly of Sylvia and admits that Louise became jealous of their relationship and broke off with Sylvia. At first Ford claims not to know Louise's whereabouts, but later calls him at his hotel with her address. The seductive Louise invites Smith to a nightclub and there tells him that the self-loathing Sylvia was jealous of her. After Smith drops Louise at home, he is followed on foot by a strange man. Smith corners and disarms the man, then, concluding that he also tried to run over Anne, forces him to reveal who hired him. The man directs Smith to the Star Opaque Nursing Home, a supposed sanitarium for recovering alcoholics. While breaking in, Smith is caught by the sinister Dr. Taren, who diagnoses Smith as paranoid and tries to imprison him. Smith soon escapes, however, and the next day, he and Anne, who is working as his assistant, visit Superintendent Dave Meaker at Scotland Yard. Aware of Smith's Star Opaque encounter, Meaker admits that another of Reith's clients was being blackmailed and committed suicide. Meaker also reveals that as Sylvia's body had been under water for several weeks, her remains were identified based only on clothing and jewelry. Later, Smith invites Louise to accompany him to Ivanhoe and asks her if Sylvia might have been institutionalized in the Star Opaque. Louise claims ignorance, but once in the cottage, confesses that there were two Sylvias, a good one and an evil one. Back at her flat, Louise then tries to seduce Smith, but he resists. After Smith leaves, Reith appears and announces that the detective will be killed that night. At the hotel, meanwhile, the resourceful Anne hires a safecracker, Cecil Fleming, to open Reith's office safe. Ford then calls and asks Smith to meet him at Ivanhoe. As soon as Smith arrives, Ford yells at him from the boathouse, instructing him to drive the motorboat. Wary, Smith turns on the boat and pushes it, driverless, into the water, where it soon explodes. At Reith's office, meanwhile, Anne and Cecil break into the safe and steal the lawyer's blackmail books. When Smith shows up, armed with a piece of a woman's dress he found under the boat, he tells Anne to take two of the books to Meaker, while he goes to see some of Reith's other clients. Only Manson, who owns a wireless shop, will speak to him, however. Manson admits that he had an affair with an exotic woman named Julie and was blackmailed by Ford and Reith. After Manson promises to show Smith Julie's photograph later that night, Smith leaves the shop, unaware that Ford is nearby, waiting to kill Manson. Smith goes to Louise's and, describing Sylvia as a blackmailing seductress, demands to know why Louise is protecting her. Before Louise can answer, Reith and Ford come pounding at the door, and Louise convinces Smith that she is their target. Smith sends Louise out the back, then struggles with Reith and Ford in the dark. After Ford accidentally shoots Reith instead of Smith and the phone starts to ring, he flees. Smith answers the phone and instructs the caller, Anne, to meet Louise in the hotel lobby. Smith then returns to wireless shop, where Meaker is investigating Manson's murder, and discovers the photograph of Julie. Stunned, Smith rushes to the hotel, only to learn that Anne has already left with Louise. Guessing that Louise took Anne to Ivanhoe, Smith races there, but Louise quickly disarms him. While Louise holds Anne and him at gunpoint, Smith identifies Louise as both Sylvia and Julia and states that Ford and Reith killed the real Louise after she threatened to expose their schemes. When a car approaches, Smith insists that the police are coming and that they have already arrested Ford, Louise's lover. Enraged, Louise fires her gun blindly at the intruder, then discovers that she has killed Ford. Later, Smith proposes marriage to a delighted Anne, and the two begin their much-needed vacation.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The working titles of this film were Whispering Smith Investigates and Whispering Smith, Investigator. The viewed print, which was titled Whispering Smith Hits London, was a British release print. The above "onscreen" credits, however, were taken from a cutting continuity of a U.S. print, deposited with the Copyright Office. Some of the onscreen credits for the British print differ from the U.S. version. In the British print, only John Gilling is credited as writer; Steve Fisher and author Frank H. Spearman are not listed. Anthony Hinds is listed as producer on the British print, but Julian Lesser is credited as producer in the continuity, followed by the phrase "in association with Exclusive Films, Ltd." Frank Spencer is credited as music composer and conductor in the British print, while the U.S. continuity lists him as music director and does not credit the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The continuity did not include any closing credits. All members of the above cast were listed with character names in closing credits in the British print.
Although Spearman's continuity credit reads "Based on a story by Frank H. Spearman," all of his "Whispering Smith" tales were Westerns featuring a railroad detective named "Whispering Smith" and bear little resemblance to the film's story. The character first appeared in Spearman's 1906 novel Whispering Smith. Lesser purchased the literary rights from Louis Lurie, who had in turn secured them from Sol Lesser, Julian's father, according to a June 1951 Los Angeles Times item. According to a March 1951 Daily Variety item, producer Hinds was first hired as the film's director. Hammer Films was Hinds's production company, and the British print includes the statement: "A Hammer Production." Royal Productions, Inc. was controlled by Julian Lesser. The Los Angeles Times item stated that the film's exteriors had been shot "abroad" and the interiors would be completed in Hollywood, but other sources suggest that the entire picture was filmed in England. It was released in Great Britain in January 1952. Although contemporary news items announced that Lesser would be producing a series of "Whispering Smith" pictures, no subsequent films featuring the character were ever produced.
Many films based on either the novel or the Whispering Smith character have been made, but Whispering Smith vs. Scotland Yard is the only one with a modern, urban setting. It is also the only one to star Richard Carlson as the detective. For more information about other "Whispering Smith" pictures, see entry for the 1949 Paramount film Whispering Smith in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50.