Boston Blackie (Chester Morris) and his sidekick the Runt (George E. Stone) are on a train headed for New York when Blackie receives a telegram from Betty Burnaby (Ann Savage) asking for his help. Seems sweet Betty's father (Walter Baldwin) just got out of jail but is missing.
Blackie is soon mixed up with diamonds and murder...and needless to say, Inspector Farraday (Richard Lane) and Det. Sgt. Mathews (Walter Sande) are hot on Blackie's trail, and Blackie's wealthy friend Arthur (Lloyd Corrigan) is mixed up in the events as well.
It's all over and done with in 65 minutes, but Chester Morris fans will have a good time. My favorite bit was Inspector Farraday putting handcuffs on Blackie, saying they're a new type he won't be able to get out of -- well, Boston Blackie fans know how that will end! One of these days the Inspector will learn... Blackie's playful confidence in this situation is most appealing. I also enjoyed the clever way Blackie hides the diamonds.
I was interested that the film has quite a bit of wartime atmosphere, with repeated references to rubber shortages and gas rationing; there's even a poster prominently advising to "Save Rubber - Check Your Tires Now." A blackout practice provides a key plot element late in the movie.
Ann Savage, who has a relatively small role as lovely young Betty, would go on to noir fame as the wicked, wicked lead character of the 1945 film DETOUR.
Here's a nice rundown on the movie from Jay Steinberg at the TCM site: "[Morris's]...most lasting legacy, though, came from the fourteen Columbia mystery programmers of the '40s in which he starred as Jack Boyle's dapper, insouciant ex-jewel thief/amateur sleuth Horatio Black, known to his circle as Boston Blackie. By the time of the series' fifth entry...the formula had been well established, and the film is exemplary. It boasts plenty of plot convolutions to fill an hour's running time, and plenty of opportunity for Morris and the series' other regulars to provide the witty performances that gave the Blackie films their charm."
This film is not yet on DVD and does not appear to have had a release on VHS. It can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.
Previous BOSTON BLACKIE reviews: MEET BOSTON BLACKIE (1941), CONFESSIONS OF BOSTON BLACKIE (1941), ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), and BOSTON BLACKIE GOES HOLLYWOOD (1942).
Films directed by Lew Landers which have previously been reviewed at this site: NIGHT WAITRESS (1936), WITHOUT ORDERS (1936), FLIGHT FROM GLORY (1937), THEY WANTED TO MARRY (1937), THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF (1937), DANGER PATROL (1937), BORDER CAFE (1937), DOUBLE DANGER (1938), CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), CONSPIRACY (1939), STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942), ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950), and MAN IN THE DARK (1952).