Wednesday 31 January 2007

Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1942) Michael Gordon

Boston Blackie, former safebreaker, and his companion and fellow ex-crook the Runt, are about to leave for Florida on a vacation, when they catch a burglar in their own apartment. Blackie calls in the police only to discover that it's Inspector Farraday trapped in a locked room and hiding up his chimney. Apparently a valuable diamond that figures in Blackie's past has been stolen in California and Farraday thought he'd check up just in case. Of course Blackie finds his way to California anyway, because old friend Arthur is in trouble and needs $60,000 in cash very quickly indeed.

The real story here is that Farraday believes that Blackie has stolen the money and so we're treated to a cat and mouse game of bluff and double bluff, disguise and subterfuge, all the way to LA. The plot is pretty flimsy this time round and is saved only by some great dialogue. We end up in complete farce with a gunfight chase that could have been a silent slapstick routine if only they'd sped it up a little. It's all perfectly decent entertainment, the Runt's transparent disguise notwithstanding, but there's nothing here that you couldn't find in any random episode of a pulp detective series, and that, after the initial couple of Boston Blackie movies, is highly disappointing.

Oh, and Hollywood doesn't have anything to do with anything. Maybe that the area of California that they they end up in, given that they flew into LA, but there's no movie connection here at all: no shooting on studio lots, no cameos from even minor celebrities, nothing to connect it to the movies at all. I found it far more interesting to see what air travel seemed to be like in 1942, with six hour flights from coast to coast and airport stalls that sell water pistols and ant farms. How would that work in today's culture of terrorism everywhere?

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