Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Meet Boston Blackie







. . .  enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend . . .



Boston Blackie didn’t start out as a private detective, even though that is how most people who do remember him, remember him.  


Long before he showed up in silent films of the 1920’s, and was revived again in the 1940’s  and 1950’s, he was a fictional hardboiled ex-con jewel thief (albeit with a heart of gold) created by author Jack Boyle (born sometime prior to 1880; died circa 1928).


While he was featured in a handful of short stories, and a number of largely forgotten silent films of the 1920s, Blackie didn’t really reach mass popularity until Columbia picture reintroduced the character to the public in 1941 with Meet Boston Blackie, starring Chester Morris.


Although a `B’ picture, it was a good `B’ picture – with good production values and a witty script crammed into just 58 minutes - and it launched one of the most successful franchises of the 1940’s.


There were 14 `Blackie’ movies produced between 1941 and 1949, all starred long-time actor Chester Morris (born John Chester Brooks Morris February 16, 1901 - September 11, 1970).


At age 15, young Chet Morris (son of actor William Morris, and comedienne Etta Hawkins) appeared on Broadway in Lionel Barrymore's The Copperhead.  He made his film debut in 1917 in An Amateur Orphan.


Morris was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for Alibi in 1929, but over the next 10 years his movie roles failed to garner him much fame. 


He was a solid, likable actor, and appeared in more than 3 dozen (mostly forgettable) films during the 1930’s.


All that changed in 1941, when Morris brought new life to the Blackie franchise.


We’ve three Blackie Movies available on Retrovision.Tv for your viewing pleasure.  Hopefully more will be added over time.


Boston Blackie and the Law (1946)

Boston Blackie, ex-convict and amateur magician, is doing his act at a prison-for-women, and an inmate takes the opportunity to do her own disappearing act while Blackie is doing his. Held as an accomplice, Blackie gets away and starts the…

Phantom Thief, The (1946)

Boston Blackie, in the 11th film of the Columbia series, indulges in some wit-trading with a squirmy spiritualist who deals in blackmail, murder and the occult. “Blackie” out to help his pal, “Runt,” recover some jewels, finds himself involved in…

Trapped by Boston Blackie (1948)

When Boston Blackie’s private detective friend Joe Kenyon is killed in an auto crash under suspicious circumstances, Blackie (Chester Morris) makes an offer to Mrs. Kenyon (Mary Currier) to take his place as a guard at a party given by…



Blackie proved so popular, that the franchise moved to radio as a summer replacement series for Amos & Andy in 1944.   Morris reprised the role of Blackie on the radio for the first year, then the series was syndicated with Richard Kollmar taking the lead role.





Luckily, we’ve a huge repository of Boston Blackie radio shows on the Internet Archive, and you can find scores of single episodes scattered across the various OTR (Old Time Radio) sites.
665 MB
642 MB
657 MB
443 MB


Each one of these download links yields an entire CD worth of shows, and they can take a long time to download.  You may wish to try some single episodes on for size first, which you can listen to – or download – here.





Boston Blackie’s last hurrah was a TV series, an early entry from ZIV,  starring Kent Taylor, which aired in 1951.  


Boston Blackie is remembered in popular culture in Jimmy Buffett’s song "Pencil Thin Mustache" and in the Coaster’s classic `Searchin’.  


Daffy Duck also appeared as `Boston Quackie’ – an inept detective, in the 1957 cartoon of the same name.

1 comment:

Lee1001 said...

interesting post,the links to the 3 movies does not work,says nothing found on Retrovision.Here's a link to the Boston Blackie site give full reviews of all 14 Chester Morris movies,plus casts,posters ect.