Boston Blackie and his pal, The Runt, are ready to board a train for Florida when Blackie gets a telegram from his friend Arthur Manleder asking Blackie to go to Manleder's New York ... See full summary »
This one is almost the stuff of noir with some black comedy mixed in.
The film opens with Blackie's wealthy friend, Arthur Manleder, paying him a visit one night. Arthur is seeking Blackie's help in discreetly returning his insane nephew to the asylum from which he escaped. Blackie agrees to help. What Blackie doesn't know is that the insane nephew, Jimmy Cook (Steve Cochran) has crawled into his apartment through an open window and heard everything. Jimmy knocks Blackie unconscious after Arthur leaves, changes into Blackie's clothes and leaves.
Here's where the black comedy and noirish elements begin. Jimmy is running around town masquerading as Blackie and strangling girls although his actual objective is to meet just one girl in particular - Nina Foch as Sally Brown, with whom he's been corresponding via letters. In one case Jimmy leaves Blackie's monogrammed hat at a murder scene, in another he dumps a body in Blackie's apartment. Of course Inspector Farraday believes Blackie did it, and so, as usual, Blackie must work around the police to catch Jimmy before he can murder any more women.
This is an unusual entry because in almost every other Boston Blackie film a robbery of some kind was at the root of the crime wave. This one is different because the murders of a madman are involved with no theft behind any of the killings. You can see why Farraday would doubt Blackie where theft was concerned - it was once his trade - but it would quite be a stretch to believe Blackie would become the murderer of random women and that The Runt, Blackie's rather timid pal, would just go along for the ride! As for Steve Cochran, he is pitch perfect as the killer with those dark eyes and expression that goes from hopeless romantic to crazed maniac in the blink of an eye.
Highly recommended as an entertaining and unusually complex entry in the Boston Blackie series. Just expect things to be a little more on the heavy and tense side than usual for the series. What does the lighten the mood in this one, probably unintentionally? An autographed picture of Boston Blackie prominently displayed in his own apartment turned what should have been a tense moment in the film into a laugh out loud one, at least for me. Enjoy.
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