ONE MYSTERIOUS NIGHT. Columbia, 1944. Chester Morris (Boston Blackie), Janis Carter, Richard Lane, George E. Stone, William Wright, Robert Williams, Mark Roberts, Dorothy Malone (uncredited). Based on the character created by Jack Boyle. Director: Oscar [Budd] Boetticher Jr.


   If you were to go back to a review I did quite a while ago, that of Meet Boston Blackie, the first of the series, you’ll see that I wasn’t entirely impressed with it — or if I was, it wasn’t favorably.

   I’d happened to have taped a whole run of the Blackie movies at the time, and here it is, over two years later, and last night I finally watched another one, the seventh overall, just so you know where we stand when we start.

   And I might as well tell you this frankly. Not even the fact that this was famed Budd Boetticher’s first directorial effort, the first he was given credit for, can save this movie from itself. Bad? Well, maybe not, but let me tell you this, it sure isn’t good.

   Blackie in this one is called in by Inspector Farraday (Richard Lane) to find a stolen diamond. Working on the side of the law, Blackie still finds the need for disguises and other funny stuff inorder to check out the scene of the crime, for example, as well as a couple of other instances.

   But even though he spots how the thief did it within five minutes (and I still don’t believe the guards on duty were really that stupid), he’s spotted so quickly in turn by a ubiquitous blonde reporter (the slim and stunning Janis Carter), that Blackie ought to turn in his license as an unlicensed (and no longer active) crook and go back to the amateur level himself.


   There are two things going for this movie, and Janis Carter is one of them, though how she manages to pop up every time the movie needs a boost in another direction, I’ll never know.

   The other is the non-stop action that leaves absolutely zero time for reflection on how or why, only ever onward to the next scene.

   Connoisseurs of sappy lunkhead comedy crime movies like this one should note that I am not including the so-called alleged humor as one of the positives. Picture this. The two main crooks are standing like dummies (no, I really mean dummies, or manikins, perhaps) in a pawnshop with the owner seriously wounded from a gunshot on the floor, while the two policemen they’re hiding from play cards in front of them while they’re waiting for the ambulance to come.

   Well, I suppose you could call it funny. And do you know what? Right now I’m sitting here grinning like a nine-year-old!