Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Alias Boston Blackie (1942)

ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE is the third film in the long-running series starring Chester Morris as a reformed safecracker. It's an enjoyable mystery set during the yuletide season.

This time around Blackie takes a group of performers to entertain at a prison on Christmas Eve. The movie's off to a fun start when it becomes apparent that the bus driver is none other than Lloyd Bridges in a nonspeaking bit part -- one of 25 films Bridges appeared in which were released in 1942!

Having seen Lloyd Bridges this year in a very memorable role in TRY AND GET ME (1950), it's fun to see him when he was just starting out. It's also fun if the viewer knows that Larry Parks, who plays a prison inmate who escapes on the bus, was Bridges' closest friend. Bridges was best man when Parks married Betty Garrett, and she later became the godmother of Beau Bridges.

But enough trivia and back to the story! Parks plays Joe, who was sent up the river for a murder he didn't commit. Joe's sister Eve (Adele Mara) is one of the chorus girls Blackie takes to entertain at the prison. Needless to say, it's up to Boston Blackie to find the real murderer and clear Joe's name.

The movie is a well-paced 67 minutes, and the Christmas touches here and there make it a bit different from the usual series mystery. This would be a fun "outside the box" title for TCM to show at Christmastime. Jacqueline looked further at the Christmas angle in a post last December at Another Old Movie Blog.

Chester Morris gives another assured performance as Boston Blackie. Morris enjoyed doing magic tricks off the screen, and his abilities in that regard surely add an extra-smooth touch to Blackie's expertise removing handcuffs and pulling other sleight-of-hand tricks.

The usual series regulars are along for the adventure, including Richard Lane as Inspector Farraday, Walter Sande as Detective Matthews, Lloyd Corrigan as Blackie's friend Arthur, and George E. Stone as Blackie's sidekick, the runt.

Adele Mara appeared as Rita Hayworth's sister in YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942) the same year ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE was released; as a matter of fact, Larry Parks had a small role in that film too.  Mara is seen here at the right in a YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER still along with Hayworth, Leslie Brooks, and Catherine Craig. Mara later married TV writer-producer Roy Huggins of MAVERICK and THE ROCKFORD FILES. Her brother, Luis Delgado, was James Garner's longtime stand-in and assistant.

This is the first of three Boston Blackie films directed by "B" movie specialist Lew Landers. I've been enjoying catching up with Landers' films in recent months; a complete list of Landers reviews can be found at the end of this post. Landers keeps the story moving along, including an entertaining chase scene with cars careening around the city streets of the Columbia backlot.

A small number of BOSTON BLACKIE films have been released on MOD DVD-Rs from Sony/Columbia, but this does not appear to be one of them.


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), DOUBLE DANGER (1938), CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), CONSPIRACY (1939), STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950), and MAN IN THE DARK (1952).


Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Nice review of a surprisingly fun movie. Thanks for the link.

5:06 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

One I'll look out for. Didnt know Larry Parks and Lloyd Bridges were good friends.
As you say, it is interesting to spot up and coming performers in walk-own parts at the start of their career.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Silver Screenings said...

What's not to like about the Boston Blackie movies? I haven't seem 'em all, and I'm certain I haven't seen this one. Thanks for the review.

6:31 PM  

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