Monday, December 8, 2008
"Enemy to those who make him an enemy. Friend to those who have no friend."
Boston Blackie made his first screen appearance in the 1918 production of Boston Blackie's Little Pal for Metro, This was the beginning of a string of silent movies for several different studios. Blackie was played by different actors including Bert Lytell, Lionel Barrymore, Raymond Glenn, David Powell, William Russell and Forrest Stanley. In these films, Blackie was a professional thief with a heart of gold. The last silent Blackie film was in 1927.
In 1941 Chester Morris starred in the first of of a series of fourteen very successful Boston Blackie films for Columbia Pictues, thus began new adventures of Boston Blackie. The first movie Meet Boston Blackie sets Blackie up as a former professional thief now working as a sort of freelance adventurer/detective. Adventurer, yes. Detective, ???. On the right side of the law, he preferred not to get too involved with the police (did I just hear Jack Boyle roll over in his grave). Blackie is now evolving into a new character that turns out to be very interesting and entertaining. According to critic Leonard Maltin, Chester Morris provided an amiable, charming hero in all episodes. Morris "brought to the role a delightful offhand manner and sense of humor that kept the films fresh even when the scripts weren't."
In 1944, Blackie made his radio debut on NBC. This series was an outgrowth of the popular Boston Blackie movies. Chester Morris and Richard Lane brought to the radio the characters of Boston Blackie and Inspector Farraday. The series was originally a summer replacement for The Amos and Andy Show. It was scheduled to run from June 23, 1944 to September 15, 1944 for a total of thirteen episodes. There is some disagreement on how many episodes actually aired. The series turned out to be very popular and on April 15, 1945 it returned to the air in its own time slot on NBC. This time the star was Richard Kollmar who played Blackie for 220 episodes.
In 1951 Boston Blackie came to television for a total of 58 30-minute episodes during its run that ended in 1953. The TV version starred Kent Taylor as Boston Blackie. Surprisingly 32 of the 58 Blackie episodes were filmed in color. This was unheard of in the early 50's, however, the producers saw the future of color was coming and also a new term, "reruns." When color TV did arrive there was a huge demand for color programs. Boston Blackie, Superman, The Cisco Kid, these were were among the few ready for color.
Here's a link to the Thrilling Detective website, where all the Boston Blackie adventures are catalogued. Films, books, radio and TV shows are listed and linked. With more incarnations than a Hindu god, Boston was certainly a popular character in all his manifestations.
Click here to listen to B.B.
Click here to listen to B.B.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Counterfeit Pickwick Papers bought for $62,000 at auction, Blackie goes into overdrive after the thieves especially because, as usual, Inspector Farraday believes he's at the bottom of it all. With a few neat twists and turns it reaches a logical and satisfying conclusion - unless in error you thought you were watching Fellini - and in fact fits together like a done jigsaw puzzle. No big surprises then, but I'll have to leave you to guess whether Blackie gets his...person or not - no spoilers!