austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The road is calling; today is the day

Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood opens with a thief breaking into Boston Blackie's dark apartment. The thief is wearing a hat. Of course he is; it's the 40's. Blackie and Runt are in the other room, getting ready for a trip to Florida. The police show up swiftly, with officer Matthews arresting Blackie, unaware that Blackie's the legitimate tenant and not at all the burglar, who turns out to be Inspector Farraday after all.

The Monterrey Diamond was stolen in California last week, and while Blackie says he hasn't seen it in ten years, Farraday doesn't buy it and there's the story. But Farraday also can't plausibly arrest Blackie on the grounds he was in the same country as the theft, and at the train station Blackie gets a telegram to help his friend Arthur in trouble who's also in ... California. The pal out in California is calling Blackie, as 'George', to bring cash out as ransom; if the money isn't delivered soon, the Monterrey Diamond will be gone and Arthur probably will too. Of course, Blackie has to break into Arthur's safe to get the cash and that's when Farraday intrudes and arrests them for the standard fake-out arrest. (Blackie uses a phone booth --- playing tic-tac-toe with Farraday on the glass --- to make his One Phone Call, sending a telegram to police headquarters for relay to Farraday, setting up a meeting from his brother; Farraday doens't believe it, but is talked into double-checking, giving Blackie the chance to escape --- which Farraday says he meant to do because Blackie will lead them to the stolen diamond, and Blackie says he wanted Farraday to do.)

I should mention, by twenty minutes into Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood, Blackie hasn't even got out of Midtown Manhattan. He doesn't even get to the airport until 25 minutes in, when he buys tickets for himself and Runt, in costume, and in cash. At the airport gift shop, Blackie buys an ant farm, some absorbent cotton (to stuff in Runt's mouth so he can pretend better to be a kid), and a water pistol (!).

Finally a half-hour in to the film, Blackie's on the (American Airlines) plane heading for Hollywood and suspects the police are following him in the luggage compartment, so, he sprinkles the ant farm out onto the legs of the hiding-not-so-well police and I'm really not sure what that's supposed to prove. Interesting that-was-then points: the plane flies at 8,000 feet; and, they have to close the window curtains for final descent as a ``security precaution''.

So, 33 minutes into the film, Blackie, in costume, arrives in Hollywood. He gets to the hotel where Arthur's being held, and has Runt wait in the lobby with the cash while Blackie attempts a rescue that's a couple reels too early to work. Runt gets robbed, Farraday catches up with Blackie and is willing to let him go if he actually has Arthur's money at Arthur's request, and there, New York City police inspector Farraday is ready to arrest Blackie and raise all kinds of jurisdictional questions. So there's another twenty minutes or so of chasing and costuming and whatnot before it's closed out.

So here's a big-picture question: why did Boston Blackie need to go to Hollywood? I mean, why tell a story in which they go to Hollywood? There's no uniquely Hollywood, or even Los Angeles, or for that matter California elements in the story. The action takes place in a hotel room that could be from any city, honestly; since Blackie and Runt had planned to go to Florida originally, why not let the story follow them to Miami? There's a scene on the top of some buildings and you can see Black And White Los Angeles in the background, and it's refreshing that they have actual outdoors instead of matte painting outdoors in the background, but could that have been all that motivated the city selection?

There's the usual sort of amusing little incidents, including a bit where they run up the fire escapes (people always run up fire escapes in these pictures) and through the apartment of an elderly couple, which Blackie excuses with a little small talk. They remark on having no idea what just happened, but ``he seemed nice''. From such comic elements are this kind of movie made.

Trivia: IBM's Type 405 Alphabetic Accounting Machine, introduced in the early 1930s, allowed IBM systems to process 150 cards per minute and to print out tabulated information in both numbers and words. Source: The Maverick And His Machine: Thomas Watson Sr and the Making of IBM, Kevin Maney.

Currently Reading: The Best Of Fredric Brown, Fredric Brown. Curiously all the internal pages credit the book to editor Robert Bloch.

Tags: boston blackie, movies

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