Wednesday 4 April 2007

One Mysterious Night (1944) Oscar Boetticher Jr

Strange things are afoot on the corner of 27th St and 5th Ave. Famous diamonds are being exhibited as a fundraiser for the Greater United Nations War Fund, but the assistant manager running the show is obviously under some unsavoury pressure. The 106 karat Blue Star of the Nile soon ends up mysteriously missing, despite a serious police presence, and Inspector Farraday is under pressures of his own to catch the thief. He's so under pressure that he finds that he has to deputise Boston Blackie himself to investigate. Unfortunately a bright and statuesque blonde journalist keeps getting the wrong end of the stick but one upping him anyway.

The more I watch Boston Blackie movies the more I see where Gregory McDonald found a serious influence for his Fletch novels. Working for the cops but still using his own methods, Blackie gets to do more dressing up, impersonating diverse characters, putting on fake voices and confusing the opposition into giving themselves away or giving up the information he needs. He also gets caught far more often here than I've seen yet, but there's always plenty of opportunity to make fools out of Farraday and Mathews too. It isn't a great Boston Blackie movie, certainly compared to the last one, but it's an acceptable entry in the series.

The surprise here for me was to find that the cast included Dorothy Malone but that she wasn't playing the reporter. She's Eileen Daley, the sister of the assistant manager who stole the diamond, and she's fine but nothing when compared to the way she lit up the screen only two years later as the bookstore owner who beguiles Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep. For some reason she soon ended up mostly in westerns. The reporter I thought she'd be playing is Janis Carter who surprisingly didn't really make it any further up the Hollywood food chain than this.

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