Recently, Turner Classic Movies has shown most of the Boston Blackie films and after having seen just about about all of them, this first appears to be the very best. I think much of this is the freshness and originality of the script. If you see it and remember it was the first of the series starring Chester Morris, the movie seems very fresh and exciting for the genre--with a great script and good doses of humor and excitement. However, many of the the wonderful things about this film were repeated again and again in later films and this is when the series began to wear a bit thin. The stupidity of the inspector and especially his assistant is funny, but not by the fifth or sixth or twelfth film--by then, it just seems....stupid. Plus, it makes sense that these two bumblers think that Blackie committed the murders--after all, Blackie had spent time in prison. However, when film after film after film Boston Blackie proves he is a good guy and solves the crimes, it really makes no sense at all that the original plot outline is STILL being followed--practically to the letter. As a result, I honestly think the average viewer is better off seeing just a few films from the series and not bothering to see them all.
Now even if this formula is a bit too strict throughout most of the series, MEET BOSTON BLACKIE is still a very good film because it has an exciting plot. Instead of a movie about a jewel theft (a theme often repeated), it involves several murders and a spy ring--something very timely since the film was made just before the US entered WWII. Snappy dialog, great action and some amazing originality (at least in this point in the series)---all these come together to make an excellent B-detective film that's every bit as good as the best of Charlie Chan or The Saint.
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