Alias Boston Blackie opens on Christmas, as Blackie and sidekick Runt figure to take the clown Roggi McKay and other performers up to Sing Sing. But the sister of one of Roggi's old partners, Joe, pleads for a message to be passed to him. She's visited too many times, but Blackie agrees to sneak her up, though Farraday joins the expedition so backstory can be dumped on the audience in case we didn't understand Blackie's mischievous past.
So it's about ten minutes of prelude before Joe pulls a gun and takes Roggi's place, there to get back at his unfaithful partners and the usual stuff, and in defiance of my expectation Farraday doesn't notice right away and blame Blackie. Blackie does, though, and threatens to keep Joe under close watch, although there's a stretch of about four hours while Blackie putters around in minor chores before getting the story going, with Joe taking a gun on Blackie now and finally a half-hour in to things Farraday storms in to suspect Blackie of everything.
So, arrest, ``no conversation'', and Blackie signals to Runt in Morse Code by tapping on the floor, which their guard doesn't pick up on even when Runt asks how to spell something, probably because he wasn't informed of how Blackie used the same trick two movies ago. Anyway, someone's killed one of the guys Joe planned to kill, and Joe can't find the other guy, so now what? Blackie clears things up by being caught with the body while Joe flees. Since it's the thirteenth-floor window, yeah, Joe escapes, by impersonating the corpse. This gives time for a few scenes of the coroner's delivery guys being surprised at how they lost one, which are the comedy bits. None of this could have happened without Farraday's willingness to leave Blackie unsupervised for several minutes at a stretch, a habit he never outgrows, apparently. He must know the results of these things, and must be going along with it because he enjoys the ritual. Characters enjoying the ritual would explain much of what's otherwise plot-driven decision-making in these stories.
That these movies were made during the war produces some odd bits of dialogue. I think the high point is while Blackie is in police headquarters he gets sent to another room to make his phone call, and they warn, ``no funny business, that room is wired like a concentration camp''. Grim humor in 1942, especially with Runt referring casually to one officer as ``Gestapo''. Now, Blackie does manage a moderately clever getaway, by binding himself and impersonating Roggi --- claiming that he's Roggi and that Blackie had got away in his clown costume for two impersonations this movie (it's not confusing on screen) --- and then Blackie gets to go on a police-motorcycle process-shot chase through Backlot Town.
It's normal for there to be a newspaper-headline scene establishing whatever was going on for people who came into the picture late. Here's a novel twist: the hand takes the newspaper and turns it over, to learn the winners of the ``What is Love?'' contest will be revealed tomorrow. Why this never-before-mentioned plot point? So that Blackie can call the editor and get the name and address of one of the contestants who has been tracked down by his hack license.
Normally in this sort of movie, even in this series, there'll be a tense confrontation between our protagonist and the Real Crook, where the Real Crook confesses to the whole thing while the police eavesdrop. Sure enough that happens here too, although rather than the police breaking in just as the confession's sufficiently coerced, the Real Crook makes his getaway all the way to his taxi cab before the police shoot him dead.
Happy ending, except for the sense of justice.
Trivia: George Washington's will bequeathed the stock he held in the Patowmack Company, dedicated to building a canal from the Potomac River to the west, to support the endowment of a national university. Source: The Grand Idea: George Washington's Potomac and the Race to the West, Joel Achenbach.
Currently Reading: Ace Science Fiction Reader, Editor Donald A Wollheim. Featuring Clifford Simak's ``The Trouble With Tycho'', Jack Vance's ``The Last Castle'', Samuel R Delany's ``Empire Star'', and a foreward by Wollheim about how awesomely great Ace Doubles are and how great this Triple is, especially in how it finds promising new talent such as by printing abridged versions of Asimov's first two Foundation novels back in the 50s that swiftly fell out of print.