Thursday, October 01, 2015


The Boston Blackie movies are light, unpretentious crime stories in which Chester Morris plays the title character, a reformed safecracker who now helps the cops out, usually because he falls under suspicion and has to clear himself. This entry is one of the best in the series. Blackie's rich buddy Arthur Manleder has just bought a rare and used bookstore and on the eve of an important auction, the book expert Kittridge takes ill and cannot be present.  Blackie, knowing this could tarnish the store's reputation, disguises himself beneath white hair and a beard as Kittridge and conducts the auction himself.  Unfortunately, a very rare signed edition of Dickens' "Pickwick Papers" turns out to be a forgery.  The cops suspect Blackie, so he remains in disguise and, with help from his sidekick the Runt and from Kittridge's lovely assistant Gloria, tries to track down the real crook.  He discovers that a man named Hadley is the forger, but Hadley is bumped off before Blackie can turn him in.  Now Blackie, wanted for murder, doubles down to solve the case, not realizing that Gloria is actually in cahoots with the real crook, Jack Higgins. This hour-long thriller is light on its feet, contains many funny moments—mostly involving Morris, George E. Stone as the Runt, and Richard Lane as his nemesis, Inspector Farraday—and has a good cast.  In addition to Morris and Stone, who always work well together, Lynn Merrick is very good as the two-faced gal pal, and it was nice to see one of my favorite B-movie leads, Steve Cochran, as the slimy but handsome bad guy. A nice treat for Boston Blackie fans. Pictured above are Stone, Morris and Cochran. [TCM]

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