austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

It's been too long since I felt this way

Confessions of Boston Blackie is the second entry in a series of B-movies starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie, reformed safecracker who keeps getting suspected of every crime Inspector Farraday (Richard Lane) hears about who somehow isn't legally The Lone Wolf. This story starts with a statue of Augustus Caesar being auctioned, and also being copied for the sort of counterfeit scam that's always going on in rare art auctions in B-movie detective-story universes. Inspector Farraday asks Blackie right away what he's doing at the auction, and it's a good question, but mostly, he's invited there and went because otherwise how would the movie get Boston Blackie into it?

The counterfeit is noticed at auction, and one of the conspirators fires a gun, so of course Farraday suspects Blackie who sensibly points out that none of his actions make sense if he's in on the scheme. (``That bullet's gonna convict you because I think it'll fit your gun like a hot dog fits a Coney island roll.'' ``You know, that's rather good. I like that.'') The newspapers treat Boston Blackie's arrest as eight-column banner headline stuff, though it's early enough in the series it's plausible they wouldn't have gotten the rule about this. When the dead body can't be found, Blackie proclaims he'll find the body before they do, and uses an ice cream vendor to escape police headquarters, really.

Blackie's detection methods are the normal for this genre, wandering around to places where he's sure to be caught and then either arguing people who have every reason to suspect him into not turning him in, or wandering right into traps. For a change of pace, a car pushes his car into tumbling over just in front of City Hall. And so things descend into a bunch of talky scenes of characters trying to track money that I'm not sure was entered into evidence, or characters knocking one another out by smashing heavy things into their heads.

Eventually all this wandering around and Blackie marching right up to people who intend to have him arrested on sight pays off, though it involves characters following paths through darkly lit sets and a series of vehicles going around the same corner of Blacklot Road and Studio Set Avenue in short order, along with phone calls to the wrong person adding delays that help the movie reach a full hour's length. Somehow the statue ends up inside a safe which what do you know but Boston Blackie's all set to crack, and the actual crook manages to struggle back from being shot to grab onto an electrical box and electrocute himself while trapping them in an escape-proof bunker in the basement. Blackie tries setting a fire in the vents, setting the building on fire, and that certainly attracts attention, as people are always looking for news that there's been a new Pope elected.

It's an all right movie. It never quite convinces this viewer that anything is not taking place in a studio set --- even the street intersection doesn't look like they went to the backlot --- and it hasn't got even the scope of the previous movie's spy schemes, or any particularly strong dialogue or even just loopy fun scenes. Several threaten to really catch hold --- the fire particularly --- but it hasn't quite got the life needed for it.

Trivia: The premiere episode of ABC's Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell featured cameos by Frank Sinatra and Ted Kennedy, a performance by John Denver, a duet featuring Jimmy Connors and Paul Anka, and the American debut of the Bay City Rollers (hyped by Cosell as ``the next Beatles''). Source: The House That Roone Built: The Inside Story Of ABC News, Marc Gunther.

Currently Reading: Undersea Fleet, Frederik Pohl, Jack Williamson. Oh, good, Polynesian offshoots who mutated into deep-sea creatures who, what do you know, get to experience the colonial enslavement side of Western Civilization. Also there's stampedes of Loch Ness Monsters. And the more that the magic 'edenite' used to maintain pressures against deep ocean pressure is on-screen the flimsier it looks. It's a blessing when Pohl and Williamson look more at neat discoveries of exotic lifeforms instead.

Tags: boston blackie, movies

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