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Monday, 10 September 2007

The Chance of a Lifetime (1943) William Castle

There were fourteen Boston Blackie films, all told, and I've seen nine of them. I'm very thankful that TCM is going to give me the opportunity over the next month or two to catch up with the other five. The Chance of a Lifetime was the sixth in the series, just after one of the best, After Midnight with Boston Blackie. All the regulars are here: Chester Morris as Blackie, George E Stone as the Runt and Richard Lane as Inspector Farraday. It's also the last appearance of Walter Sande as Detective Mathews (Frank Sully took the role for the last seven instalments) and the last but one for Lloyd Corrigan as Blackie's rich friend Arthur (he'd take a break for the next one, before returning for one final showing in Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion).

Blackie gets booked on suspicion here too. It's wartime and he's managed to persuade the powers that be to release a bunch of convicts into his care, so that they can work in Arthur Manleder's factory to help the war effort. One of them lets the side down by going to fetch the $60,000 he stashed from the job that sent him up in the first place. In trying to resist the other two crooks involved, he accidentally shoots one dead, with Blackie moments away and Farraday moments away from him! Blackie ostensibly takes the rap, to save the programme, while escaping to track down the third crook.

There's really not much of a plot here, merely a string of opportunities for Blackie and the Runt to concoct ways to make Farraday look like a fool, and even a couple for Farraday to almost do the same in reverse. It's definitely great fun but far more on the basis of the comedy than the action. There are a few good setups though to keep us paying attention and a decent ending, but it's far from the best in the series, merely a good fun way to spend an hour and a bit in the company of two men who aren't afraid to dress up as cleaning women and rob the stolen property safe in police headquarters.

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