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Boston Blackie

actor Chester Morris [1901-70] portrayed Boston Blackie in fourteen feature films, 1941-49               short history

fiction
movies
TV series, 1951-53
radio & other media

about the author

links

              actor Kent Taylor [1907-87] portrayed Boston Blackie on the 1951-53 television series


"Danger!  Excitement!  Adventure!  Boston Blackie!  Enemy of those
who make him an enemy; friend of those who have no friends."
— radio announcer

          Author Jack Boyle wrote a series of short stories about reformed safecracker and jewel thief Boston Blackie, and 28 stories were published in book form in 1919. After his first stay in prison (in California), Horatio Black, nicknamed Boston Blackie, decides to 'go straight' but every time a crime like Blackie's specialty happens, he is the first choice as suspect by dense Police Inspector John Farraday. So whenever any such crime is committed, Blackie and his pals must then prove his innocence by finding the real criminals and turning them over to the police.
          The Boston Blackie character starred in nine silent films from 1918 to 1927; only a few still exist. The sound feature series of B-movies from Columbia Pictures starred actor Chester Morris (without a moustache) in fourteen quickly-made b&w features from 1941 to 1949. The films were successful, but television (and the infamous 'consent decree') caused the minor studios to cut back on B-movies and theatrical shorts in favor of filmed television.

          Entertainment entrepreneur Frederick W. Ziv developed a "Boston Blackie" summer replacement radio series in 1944 for the Saturday evening "Amos 'n' Andy" show timeslot; that show starred movie actor Chester Morris and ran for 13 episodes.
          Ziv then developed a second "Boston Blackie" radio program starring Richard Kollmar that was syndicated to Mutual and other network outlets, and ran for over 200 episodes from April 1945 to October 1950.
          By then, radio series were also fading in popularity due to free broadcast television. Ziv developed a "Boston Blackie" tv series, starring Kent Taylor and his pencil-thin moustache; the half-hour TV series ran for 58 episodes from September 1951 to May 1953. The second season was filmed in color. Videotapes and kinescopes do exist but are mostly not available on DVD; the Internet Archive has about thirty episodes available online to watch for free {see below}.

          Virtually nothing has happened in the last sixty years. Two graphic novels were published in 2003 & 2005; the second is still in print. Since the original stories are public domain, a Kindle edition was published in 2008, with hardcover and paperback editions from Kessinger in 2009. Only one episode of the TV series is available on the 'lost episode' DVD compilation {see below} with a second (or same) episode on another DCD. Heck, there isn't even a tentative 'Boston Blackie' feature film starring Johnny Depp in the works!

Boston Blackie entry at Wikipedia
'The Life & Times of Boston Blackie' fansite



Boston  Blackie  Stories

Boston Blackie book by Jack Boyle  "Boston Blackie" [28 stories 1919] by Jack Boyle
A series of short stories published in the pulps and other magazines was combined into book form in 1919. Story titles include: A Problem In Grand Larceny; Alibi Ann; An Answer In Grand Larceny; Blackie's Prophecy Comes True; Boston Blackie; Boston Blackie's Code; Boston Blackie's Little Pal; Boston Blackie's Mary; The Cushions Kid; First Blood; For Fifteen Years; The Frame-Up; Fred The Count; The Love of A Woman; Man To Man; The Miracle; Missing Gold; The Mystery of The S.S. Humboldt; Not To Snitch On A Pal; One Week To Live; 'Play For Me, Little Squirrel'; The Price of Success; The Revolt; The Shot In The Dark; The Spirit of The Cushions Kid; The Third Degree; Trapped; and The Woman Called Rita
Kindle Edition from Amazon Digital Services [4/2008] for 99¢ {sic}
CreateSpace 9x6 pb [5/2009] for $15.00
Kessinger Publng 9x6 pb [2/2009] for $23.52
Kessinger Publng 9x6 hardcover [2/2009] for $34.92
Kessinger Publng 9x6 hardcover [9/2010] for $33.09

Boston Blackie graphic/comic by Stefan Petrucha & Kirk Van Wormer  "Boston Blackie" comic book [2003]
by Stefan Petrucha, artwork by Kirk Van Wormer

Moonstone Noir 10x6¾ pb [11/2003] out of print/used
"Boston Blackie: Bloody Shame" comic book [2005]
by Stefan Petrucha, artwork by Chris Burnham

stories "Black Out" & "Inside Out"
Moonstone Noir 8x5½ pb [11/2005] for $8.92



Boston  Blackie  Movies
'Boston Blackie' character credits at Internet Movie Database
search for Boston Blackie movies on DVD at Amazon

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Boston Blackie's Little Pal" silent feature [Metro Aug 1918]
trade magazine ad for "Boston Blackie's Little Pal" 1919 silent feature  Mary's job at the Wilderding mansion provides easy access for Boston Blackie; while attempting to open the jewel safe, Blackie is interrupted by the child of the house, who immediately bonds with Blackie; when the mother returns from the party with her lover, Blackie tricks the man into handing over the jewels. Directed by E. Mason Hopper; scenario by Albert S. Le Vino; starring Bert Lytell {as Blackie}, Rhea Mitchell, Rosemary Theby, Joey Jacobs {as Little Pal}, Howard Davies, John Burton & Frank Whitson
{this film is considered lost} • full credits at IMDb

"The Silk-Lined Burglar" silent feature [Universal March 1919]
Directed by John Francis Dillon; adapted by Fred Myton from Jack Boyle's story "Miss Doris, Safe-Cracker"; starring Sam De Grasse {as Blackie},
Priscilla Dean, Ashton Dearholt, Sam Appel, Lillian West, Fred Kelsey • VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

"Blackie's Redemption" silent feature [Metro Pictures April 1919]
glass slide ad for "Blackie's Redemption" 1919 silent feature starring Bert Lytell as Boston Blackie  Based on two short stories, "Boston Blackie's Mary" and "Fred The Count": Blackie is about to be married and is double-crossed and sent to jail for a crime committed by Fred The Count; Blackie escapes prison and frames Fred, then elopes with Mary. Directed by John Ince; scenario by Finis Fox; starring Bert Lytell, Alice Lake, Henry Kolker, Bernard J. Durning, Jack Duffy, William Musgrave, Gertrude Short, Don Bailey, Wilton Taylor, Ah Toy, Joseph Kilgour
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • credits at IMDb

"Missing Millions" silent feature [Famous Players-Lasky Sept 1922]
A society thief asks Boston Blackie for help in getting her father out of prison, which entails intercepting a shipment of gold on board a ship;
but the purser is arrested for the theft . . .
Directed by Joseph Henabery; written by Albert S. Le Vino, based on Jack Boyle's short story
"A Problem In Grand Larceny"; starring David Powell {as Blackie}, Alice Brady, Frank Losee, Riley Hatch, John B. Cooke, William B. Mack,
George LeGuere, Alice May, H. Cooper Cliffe • DVD/Blu-ray not available • credits at IMDb

"The Face In The Fog" silent feature [Famous Players-Lasky/Cosmopolitan Oct 1922]
Face In The Fog 1922 silent feature starring Lionel Barrymore as Boston Blackie  Members of the Russian aristocracy who fled Russia with some of the Romanov jewels are being hounded by U.S federal agents and by ruthless revolutionaries. Directed by Alan Crosland; written by John Lynch; starring Lionel Barrymore {as Blackie}, Seena Owen, Lowell Sherman, George Nash, Louis Wolheim, Mary MacLaren, Macey Harlam, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Joe King, Tom Blake, Marie Burke, Joseph W. Smiley, Martin Faust, Mario Majeroni
DVD/Blu-ray not available {considered partially lost - complete print does not exist} • credits at IMDb

"Boston Blackie" silent feature [Fox May 1923]
Boston Blackie 1923 silent feature starring William Russell  When Boston Blackie is paroled from prison, he threatens the nasty warden, saying that he will have the warden fired for using torture on the prisoners; the warden has his henchmen follow Blackie and Blackie is soon arrested for violation of parole; but Blackie's girlfriend alerts the governor and Blackie is rescued before he can be tortured. Directed by Scott R. Dunlap; adapted by Paul Schofield; starring William Russell, Eva Novak, Frank Brownlee, Otto Matieson, W.C. Robinson, Fred Esmelton
{this film is considered lost} • credits at IMDb

"Crooked Alley" silent feature [Universal Nov 1923]
Boston Blackie blames a merciless judge for the death of an old crook, he enlists the dead man's daughter in attempting to corrupt the judge's son, but the girl decides
to reform Blackie . . .
Co-written & directed by Robert F. Hill; co-written by Adrian Johnson, based on Jack Boyle's short story "The Daughter of Crooked Alley";
starring Thomas Carrigan {as Blackie}, Laura La Plante, Tom Guise, Owen Gorin, Al Hart • VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • credits at IMDb

"Through The Dark" silent feature [Goldwyn-Cosmopolitan Jan 1924]
Through The Dark half-sheet poster starring Colleen Moore  A riot at the prison allows Blackie to escape; he heads for Mother McGinn's, a hideout for crooks, and meets the lovely Mary McGinn, who does not know that her father was a crook and that her top-notch education was paid for by her mother boarding crooks on the lam. Directed by George W. Hill; adapted by Frances Marion from Jack Boyle's story "The Daughter of Mother McGinn"; starring Forrest Stanley {as Blackie}, Colleen Moore, Margaret Seddon, Hobart Bosworth, George Cooper, Eddie Phillips, Wade Boteler, Tom Bates, Carmelita Geraghty, Maxine Elliott Hicks
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • credits at IMDb

"The Return of Boston Blackie" silent feature
[Chadwick Pictures/First Division Aug 1927]
when Boston Blackie gets out of prison, his faithful dog is waiting for him  Apparently the only film of animal star Strongheart that still exists; reformed thief Blackie gets out of prison and bumps into a girl who stole the Markham Necklace to prevent Denver Dan from stealing it . . . Directed by Harry O. Hoyt; adapted by Leah Baird; starring Strongheart The Dog & Bob Custer/Raymond Glenn; also starring Corliss Palmer, Rosemary Cooper, Coit Albertson, William Worthington, Florence Wix, J.P. Lockney & Violet Palmer • credits at IMDb
indep 77-minute b&w DVD [9/2010] for $12.95
watch silent movie clip of Strongheart attacking the bad guy [1:45] free online at YouTube

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Meet Boston Blackie" sound feature
[Columbia Pictures Feb 1941]
lobby card for 'Meet Boston Blackie' 1941 movie starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie  A murder on a docked ocean liner leads to a spy ring at the freak show on Coney Island.
Directed by Robert Florey; written by Jay Dratler; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Rochelle Hudson, Richard Lane, Charles Wagenheim, Constance Worth, Jack O'Malley, George Magrill, James Seay
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

"Confessions of Boston Blackie" [Columbia Pictures Dec 1941]
poster for Confessions of Boston Blackie 1941 movie starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie  During an auction of a statue, someone is murdered and the cops simply blame Blackie; when the body disappears, Blackie has to solve the case to prove his innocence. Directed by Edward Dmytryk; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Harriet Hilliard, Richard Lane, George E. Stone, Lloyd Corrigan, Joan Woodbury, Walter Sande, Ralph Theodore, Kenneth MacDonald, Walter Soderling, William 'Billy' Benedict
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb
27"x40" poster from Amazon for $16.95

"Alias Boston Blackie" [Columbia Pictures April 1942]
Alias Boston Blackie 1942 movie starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie  Blackie agrees to assist with a magic show at his former prison; one of the inmates escapes and Insp. Farraday blames Blackie. Directed by Lew Landers; script adaptation by Paul Yawitz from a Jack Boyle story; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Adele Mara, Richard Lane, George E. Stone, Lloyd Corrigan, Walter Sande, Larry Parks, George McKay, Cy Kendall, Paul Fix
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia

"Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood"
[Columbia Pictures Nov 1942]
Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood movie starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie  Blackie gets a telegram asking him to retrieve $60,000 from a friend's safe, but Insp. Farraday catches him in the act; since the friend is connected with a missing famous diamond, the cops let Blackie and Runt continue on to Hollywood, where the diamond and the money are stolen and re-stolen.
Directed by Michael Gordon; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, William Wright, Constance Worth, Lloyd Corrigan, Richard Lane, George E. Stone & Forrest Tucker
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

"After Midnight With Boston Blackie"
[Columbia Pictures March 1943]
After Midnight With Boston Blackie 1943 movie starring Chester Morris  A former girlfriend's father is just out of prison and is going to retrieve a sack of diamonds from a safe deposit box and she wants Blackie's help getting him to return the loot and reform, but the old man is murdered enroute to the bank and the cops blame Blackie . . . Directed by Lew Landers; written by Aubrey Wisberg & Howard J. Green; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Richard Lane, Ann Savage, George E. Stone, Lloyd Corrigan, Walter Baldwin, Walter Sande
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

"The Chance of A Lifetime" [Columbia Pictures Oct 1943]
Chance of A Lifetime 1943 movie starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie  Blackie agrees to help the war effort with a project to parole 'good prisoners' to work in a factory; but one of them is a 'bad apple' who returns to crime, so Blackie & Runt must capture the crook and his loot to save the project. Directed by William Castle; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Erik Rolf, Jeanne Bates, Richard Lane, George E. Stone & Lloyd Corrigan, with Heinie Conklin, Minta Durfee, Arthur Hunnicutt & Ray Teal
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

"One Mysterious Night" [Columbia Pictures Oct 1944]
One Mysterious Night 1944 movie starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie  When the Blue Star of The Nile diamond is stolen from a war relief exhibit, the cops ask Blackie for help in catching the criminal. Directed by Budd Boetticher; written by Paul Yawitz; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Janis Carter, George E. Stone, William Wright, Richard Lane, Robert Williams, Mark Roberts, Dorothy Malone, Minerva Urecal
Sony Pictures Home Ent. b&w DVD [5/2012] for $20.95
full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia

"Boston Blackie Booked On Suspicion"
[Columbia Pictures May 1945]
Boston Blackie Booked On Suspicion 1945 movie starring Chester Morris  "A beautiful girl turns killer ... and Blackie is taking the rap" Blackie's wealthy friend Arthur Manleder buys an antique bookstore just before an auction; the bookseller takes ill and Blackie disguises himself as the old man and the auction proceeds without a hitch – until the purchaser of a rare Dickens first edition declares that it is a forgery. Directed by Arthur Dreifuss; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Lynn Merrick, Richard Lane, Frank Sully, Steve Cochran, George E. Stone, Lloyd Corrigan
DVD/Blu-ray not available • Goodtimes Video b&w VHS [1991] for $77.00 {sic}
full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia

"Boston Blackie's Rendezvous" [Columbia Pictures July 1945]
Boston Blackie's Rendezvous 1945 movie starring Chester Morris  Blackie's wealthy pal Arthur asks for help when Arthur's homicidal maniac nephew escapes from an insane asylum . . . Directed by Arthur Dreifuss; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Nina Foch, Steve Cochran, Richard Lane, George E. Stone, Frank Sully, Iris Adrian
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

"A Close Call For Boston Blackie"
[Columbia Pictures Jan 1946]
A Close Call For Boston Blackie 1946 movie starring Chester Morris  "Blackie trips a blonde ... to trap a killer!" Blackie rescues a woman from an assault, and discovers that she is an old flame; she asks for help keeping her baby from her ex-husband, just released from prison . . . Directed by Lew Landers; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Lynn Merrick, Richard Lane, Frank Sully, George E. Stone, Erik Rolf, Charles Lane, Mark Roberts
indep b&w DVD-R [9/2012] for $12.98  
Sony Pictures Home Ent. b&w DVD [5/2012] for $20.95  
full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia • watch [60:01] free online at Internet Archive

"The Phantom Thief" [Columbia Pictures May 1946]
 Phantom Thief 1946 movie starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie  Boston Blackie helps his pal Runt recover some jewels, which leads to suspicion in several murders; magic-trained Blackie then holds a seance to reveal the real killer. Directed by D. Ross Lederman; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Marvin Miller, Jeff Donnell, Richard Lane, Dusty Anderson, George E. Stone, Frank Sully
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not yet available • full credits at IMDb

"Boston Blackie and The Law"
[Columbia Pictures Dec 1946]
Boston Blackie and The Law 1946 movie starring Chester Morris  When Blackie performs a magic act at a women's prison, the woman who volunteers as assistant disappears just fine, then manages to escape from the prison as well. Directed by D. Ross Lederman; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, Trudy Marshall, Constance Dowling, Richard Lane, George E. Stone, Frank Sully, Warren Ashe
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb • movie entry at Wikipedia
27"x40" poster from Amazon for $16.95

"Trapped By Boston Blackie"
[Columbia Pictures May 1948]
Trapped By Boston Blackie 1948 movie starring Chester Morris  When Blackie's private detective friend is killed, Blackie manages to take his place as guard at a private party; when a pearl necklace is stolen, Insp. Farraday walks in and discovers the necklace in Blackie's pocket . . . Directed by Seymour Friedman; starring Chester Morris {as Blackie}, June Vincent, Richard Lane, Patricia Barry, Edward Norris, George E. Stone, Frank Sully, Fay Baker
DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb
27"x40" poster from Amazon for $16.95

"Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture"
[Columbia Pictures 1949]
Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture 1949 movie starring Chester Morris  Blackie and Runt are seen leaving a Chinese laundry just before the owner is found dead.
Directed by Seymour Friedman; starring Chester Morris, Richard Lane, Sid Tomack, Frank Sully, Philip Ahn, Benson Fong, Victor Sen Yung & actress Maylia {Fong}
Sony Pictures Home Ent. b&w DVD-R [11/2011] for $18.93
full credits at IMDb



Boston Blackie  Television  Series
'Boston Blackie' character credits at Internet Movie Database

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Adventures of Boston Blackie" half-hour TV series
[Ziv Television 1951–1953]
Adventures of Boston Blackie on the 'Lost Crimes Shows' compilation DVD  The first 26 half-hour episodes were filmed in b&w; the second season's 32 episodes were filmed in color. The setting was Los Angeles (great scenery for nostalgia freaks) and one gimmick was that Blackie drove oddball cars. Starring Kent Taylor, Lois Collier, Frank Orth & Whitey The Dog; guest actors included Roscoe Ates, Russ Conway, Tom Neal, John M. Pickard, Tom Tyler & Lee Van Cleef
series credits at IMDb

watch your choice of thirty "Boston Blackie" TV episodes
free online at Internet Archive

Adventures of Boston Blackie on the 'Lost Crimes Shows' compilation DVD  "Lost Crime Shows, Volume 2" [2009]
compilation DVD contains: "The Motorcycle Kid" episode of "Boston Blackie" from April 1953; plus "Seven Seas To Danger" episode [1952] of "Front Page Detective" starring Edmund Lowe, Paula Drew & George Pembroke; "The Witness" episode [5/1952] of "Rebound (aka Counterpoint)" featuring Lee Marvin, William Schallert & Vernon Dent; "Mandrake The Magician" [1954 pilot] based on the Lee Falk comic strip, starring Coe Norton, Woody Strode & Lisa Howard; and "Alarm" [1956 pilot] about firefighters
Alpha Video b&w DVD [6/2009] for $7.70
TV Classics Volume 10 - six 1950s TV episodes on DVD   "TV Classics, Volume 10: Detective Compilation'" [2002]
3-hour DVD with episodes from "Boston Blackie", "Richard Diamond", "Highway Patrol", "The Lawless Years", "The Man Behind The Badge", and "Peter Gunn"
Navarre / RPH Prodns b&w DVD [9/2002] out of prodn/used


Radio & Other Media

The first "Boston Blackie" radio program starred Chester Morris; it began 23 June 1944 on NBC as a summer replacement for
"Amos 'n' Andy", sponsored by Rinso Soap. The series continued until September 15 of that year; Blackie had a steady
romantic interest in Mary Wesley (voiced by Lesley Woods); Harlow Wilcox was the show's announcer.

industry ad for Frederick W. Ziv's &quotBoston Blackie" radio show starring Richard Kollmar
The second "Boston Blackie" radio program starred Richard Kollmar, was syndicated by Frederick W. Ziv to Mutual and other network outlets, and ran for over 200 episodes from 11 April 1945 to 25 October 1950. Sponsors included Lifebuoy Soap, Champagne Velvet Beer, and R&H Beer. Initially, the relationship between Blackie and humorless Police Inspector Farraday (Maurice Tarplin) was abrasive, but as the series continued, Farraday recognized Blackie's talents and requested assistance. Blackie dated Mary Wesley (Jan Miner), and for the first half of the series, his best pal Shorty was always on hand.

"Boston Blackie" radio program [1945-50] 178 episodes on CD
http://www.archive.org/details/BostonBlackie
http://www.archive.org/details/BostonBlackie2



About  Author  Jack Boyle  [1881-1928]
Information about author John Alexander 'Jack' Boyle is scarce: He was born in San Francisco, California
in 1881, wrote the 'Boston Blackie' short stories, sold many stories to the movies and to radio, and died at age 46
in Portland, Oregon in 1928; there is no Jack Boyle entry on Wikipedia (8/2012).

search books by Jack Boyle at Amazon
Jack Boyle's credits [1918-49] at Internet Movie Database



L i n k s
Boston Blackie entry at Wikipedia
'Boston Blackie' character credits at Internet Movie Database
'The Life & Times of Boston Blackie' fansite
http://www.thrillingdetective.com/boston.html
http://www.bostonblackie.org/



Online sales in association with  search for Boston Blackie movies on DVD at Amazon

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