WHISTLING HILLS. Monogram, 1951. Johnny Mack Brown, Jimmy Ellison, Noel Neill, I. Stanford Jolley, Marshall Reed, Pamela Duncan. Director: Derwin Abrahams.

   There’s a little more plot than usual to this otherwise run-of-the-mill western, enough so that I decided it was worth talking about. It seems that the local stage is being held up on a regular basis by a gang of outlaws who always seem to know which pass it’s going through, and they go into action only on days when the strongbox is full.

   Key to their success is a rider dressed all in black who rides the crests of the surrounding hills and blows a whistle when it’s time for the bandits to go into action. The local sheriff (Jimmy Ellison) is stumped; he has no clue as to who the rider in black is.

   When Johnny Mack Brown comes to town looking for a horse that has been stolen from him (and finds both it and the fellow responsible), he stays on to help the sheriff, the owner of the stage line (I. Stanford Jolley), and his niece (a very petite Noel Neill). Problem is, although very much a good guy, Sheriff Dave Holland resents Johnny taking over the chase, and more: he really resents the fact that the niece seems to be making a play for Johnny.

   There is the usual amount of riding and shooting, and barroom fisticuffs, too, but the little bit of mystery adds to the story — not a detective story in reality, although it acts like one, since there’s no reason to suspect the guilty party ahead of time — unless, that is, you realize that there are only a limited number of suspects it could be.