|First appearance||"The Price of Principle" (1914)|
|Created by||Jack Boyle|
|Occupation||Jewel thief, safecracker, detective|
Boston Blackie is a fictional character created by author Jack Boyle (1881–1928). Blackie, a jewel thief and safecracker in Boyle's stories, became a detective in adaptations for films, radio and television—an "enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend."
Actor Chester Morris played the character in 14 Columbia Pictures films (1941–1949) and in a 1944 NBC radio series.
Writer Jack Boyle grew up in Chicago, Illinois. While working as a newspaper reporter in San Francisco, he became an opium addict, was drawn into crime, and was jailed for writing bad checks. Later convicted of robbery, Boyle was serving a term in San Quentin when he created the character of Boston Blackie. : 149 The first four stories appeared in The American Magazine in 1914, with Boyle writing under the pen name "No. 6066". From 1917 to 1919, Boston Blackie stories appeared in The Red Book magazine, and from 1918 they were adapted for motion pictures.
When Boston Blackie began to find success on the screen, Boyle edited the Red Book magazine stories into a book, Boston Blackie (1919). He revised and rearranged the order of the stories to create a cohesive narrative—a common practice at the time known in publishing as a fixup. This was the only appearance of Boston Blackie in book form, but his adventures continued to appear in periodicals. : 149–150
|1914||"The Price of Principle"||The American Magazine||July 1914||As No. 6066|
|1914||"The Story About Dad Morgan"||The American Magazine||August 1914||As No. 6066|
|1914||"Death Cell Visions"||The American Magazine||September 1914||As No. 6066|
|1914||"A Thief's Daughter"||The American Magazine||October 1914||As No. 6066|
|1917||"Boston Blackie's Mary"||The Red Book Magazine||November 1917|
|1917||"The Woman Called Rita"||The Red Book Magazine||December 1917|
|1918||"Fred the Count"||The Red Book Magazine||January 1918|
|1918||"Miss Doris, Safe-Cracker"||The Red Book Magazine||May 1918|
|1918||"Boston Blackie's Little Pal"||The Red Book Magazine||June 1918|
|1918||"Alibi Ann"||The Red Book Magazine||July 1918|
|1918||"Miss Doris's 'Raffles'"||The Strand Magazine||August 1918|
|1918||"The Poppy Girl's Husband"||The Red Book Magazine||October 1918|
|1918||"A Problem in Grand Larceny"||The Red Book Magazine||December 1918|
|1919||"An Answer in Grand Larceny"||The Red Book Magazine||January 1919|
|1919||"The Third Degree"||The Strand Magazine||April 1919|
|1919||"The Daughter of Mother McGinn"||Cosmopolitan||June 1919|
|1919||"Alias Prince Charming"||Cosmopolitan||July 1919|
|1919||"Black Dan"||Cosmopolitan||October 1919|
|1919||"The Water-Cross"||Cosmopolitan||November 1919|
|1920||"Grandad's Girl"||Cosmopolitan||March 1920|
|1920||"The Face in the Fog"||Cosmopolitan||May 1920|
|1920||"The Painted Child"||Cosmopolitan||October 1920|
|1920||"Boomerang Bill"||Cosmopolitan||December 1920|
The earliest Boston Blackie film adaptations were silent, dating from 1918 to 1927. Columbia Pictures revived the property in 1941 with Meet Boston Blackie , a fast, 58-minute B movie starring Chester Morris. Although the running time was brief, Columbia gave the picture good production values and an imaginative director, Robert Florey. The film was successful, and a series followed.
In the Columbia features, Boston Blackie is a reformed jewel thief who is always suspected when a daring crime is committed. In order to clear himself, he investigates personally and brings the actual culprit to justice, sometimes using disguises. An undercurrent of comedy runs throughout the action/detective series.
In one of these films, After Midnight with Boston Blackie , the character's real name was revealed to be Horatio Black.
Morris gave the Blackie character his own personal charm: he could be light and flippant or stern and dangerous, as the situation demanded. His sidekick, the Runt, was always on hand to help his old friend. George E. Stone played Runt in all but the first and last films. Charles Wagenheim and Sid Tomack, respectively, substituted for Stone when he was not available.
Blackie's friendly adversaries were Inspector Farradayof the police (played in all the films and the radio series by Richard Lane) and his assistant, Sergeant Matthews. Matthews was originally played as a hapless victim of circumstance by Walter Sande; he was replaced by Lyle Latell, who played it dumber, and then by comedian Frank Sully, who played it even dumber.
Blackie and Runt were often assisted in their endeavors by their friends: the cheerful but easily flustered millionaire Arthur Manleder (almost always played by Lloyd Corrigan; Harry Hayden and Harrison Greene each played the role once), and the streetwise pawnbroker Jumbo Madigan (played by Cy Kendall or Joseph Crehan). A variety of actresses including Rochelle Hudson, Harriet Hilliard, Adele Mara and Ann Savage took turns playing various gal Friday characters.
The films are highly typical of Columbia's B movies of the 1940s, with an assortment of veteran character actors (including Clarence Muse, Marvin Miller, George Lloyd, Byron Foulger), new faces on the way up (Larry Parks, Dorothy Malone, Nina Foch, Forrest Tucker, Lloyd Bridges) and stock-company players familiar from Columbia's features, serials, and short subjects (Kenneth MacDonald, George McKay, Eddie Laughton, John Tyrrell). The series was also a useful training ground for promising directors, including Edward Dmytryk, Oscar Boetticher, William Castle, and finally Seymour Friedman, who went on to work prolifically in Columbia's television department. The Boston Blackie series ran until 1949.
|1918||Boston Blackie's Little Pal||Bert Lytell||Adapted from "Boston Blackie's Little Pal"|
|1919||The Poppy Girl's Husband||Walter Long|
|1919||The Silk Lined Burglar||Sam De Grasse||Adapted from "Miss Doris, Safe-Cracker"|
|1919||Blackie's Redemption||Bert Lytell||Adapted from "Boston Blackie's Mary" and "Fred the Count"|
|1922||Boomerang Bill||Lionel Barrymore||Adapted from "Boomerang Bill"|
|1922||Missing Millions||David Powell||Adapted from "A Problem in Grand Larceny" and "An Answer in Grand Larceny"|
|1922||The Face in the Fog||Lionel Barrymore|
|1923||Boston Blackie||William Russell||Adapted from "The Water-Cross"|
|1923||Crooked Alley||Thomas Carrigan||Adapted from Boyle's original story, "The Daughter of Crooked Alley"|
|1924||Through the Dark||Forrest Stanley||Adapted from "The Daughter of Mother McGinn"|
|1927||The Return of Boston Blackie||Raymond Glenn|
|1941||Meet Boston Blackie||Chester Morris|
|1941||Confessions of Boston Blackie||Chester Morris|
|1942||Alias Boston Blackie||Chester Morris|
|1942||Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood||Chester Morris|
|1943||After Midnight with Boston Blackie||Chester Morris|
|1943||The Chance of a Lifetime||Chester Morris|
|1944||One Mysterious Night||Chester Morris|
|1945||Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion||Chester Morris|
|1945||Boston Blackie's Rendezvous||Chester Morris|
|1946||A Close Call for Boston Blackie||Chester Morris|
|1946||The Phantom Thief||Chester Morris|
|1946||Boston Blackie and the Law||Chester Morris|
|1948||Trapped by Boston Blackie||Chester Morris|
|1949||Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture||Chester Morris|
Boston Blackie—enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend.
Concurrent with the Columbia Pictures films, a Boston Blackie radio series—also starring Chester Morris—aired on NBC June 23 – September 15, 1944, as a summer replacement for Amos 'n' Andy . Lesley Woods played Blackie's girlfriend Mary Wesley; Richard Lane played Inspector Farraday. Harlow Wilcox was the announcer for the 30-minute program.
A new incarnation of the Boston Blackie radio series aired April 11, 1945 – October 25, 1950, starring Richard Kollmar. Maurice Tarplin played Inspector Farraday; Jan Miner was Mary. More than 200 half-hour episodes were transcribed and syndicated by Frederick Ziv to Mutual and other network outlets.
Kent Taylor starred in the Ziv-produced half-hour TV series The Adventures of Boston Blackie. Syndicated in September 1951, it ran for 58 episodes, lasting until 1953,[ citation needed ] continuing in repeats over the following decade. Lois Collier appeared as Mary Wesley and Frank Orth was Inspector Farraday. The series was set in Los Angeles; Mary and Blackie had a dog named Whitie, and comedy sometimes took precedence over crime.
Television historian Tim Brooks in The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present described Boston Blackie as "a memorable B-grade television series … The term 'B' is used in all the best senses: a certain vitality and sense of humor substituted more than adequately for the normal criteria of expensive production and famous stars."
Scripter Stefan Petrucha and artist Kirk Van Wormer created the graphic novel Boston Blackie (Moonstone Books, 2002) with a cover by Tim Seelig. A jewel heist at a costume ball goes horribly wrong, and the five-year-old son of the wealthy Greene family disappears and is presumed dead; the body is never found. The main suspect is Boston Blackie, who is still haunted seven years later by what happened that night. Drawn back into the case, he finds that the truth of what happened that night is awash in a watery grave. A sequel to the graphic novel was published years later.
This section needs additional citations for verification .(August 2016)
John Chester Brooks Morris was an American stage, film, television, and radio actor. He had some prestigious film roles early in his career, and received an Academy Award nomination for Alibi (1929). Chester Morris is remembered for portraying Boston Blackie, a criminal-turned-detective, in the Boston Blackie film series of the 1940s.
The Chance of a Lifetime is a 1943 crime drama starring Chester Morris, Erik Rolf and Jeanne Bates. It is one of 14 films made by Columbia Pictures involving detective Boston Blackie, a criminal-turned-crime solver. This was the sixth in the series and one of three that did not have his name in the title. The film is also William Castle's directorial debut. As with many of the films of the period, this was a flag waver to support America's efforts during World War II.
Richard Lane was an American actor and television announcer/presenter. In movies, he played assured, fast-talking slickers: usually press agents, policemen and detectives, sometimes swindlers and frauds. He is perhaps best known to movie fans as "Inspector Farraday" in the Boston Blackie mystery-comedies. Lane also played Faraday in the first radio version of Boston Blackie, which ran on NBC from June 23, 1944 to September 15, 1944. Lane was an early arrival on television, first as a news reporter and then as a sports announcer, broadcasting wrestling and roller derby shows on KTLA-TV, mainly from the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.
Confessions of Boston Blackie is a 1941 American crime film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Chester Morris and Harriet Hilliard. A woman consigns a family heirloom to a pair of unscrupulous art dealers in order to raise money to help her sick brother. This film is the second in the series of 14 Columbia Pictures Boston Blackie films, all starring Morris as the reformed crook. It was preceded by Meet Boston Blackie (1941) and followed by Alias Boston Blackie (1942).
Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood is a 1942 American crime film, fourth of the fourteen Boston Blackie films of the 1940s Columbia's series of B pictures based on Jack Boyle's pulp-fiction character.
Alias Boston Blackie (1942) is the third in a series of Columbia Pictures "B" movies starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie. It was preceded by Meet Boston Blackie, Confessions of Boston Blackie and followed by Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood. Once again, Blackie is suspected of committing a crime, in this instance of helping a prisoner escape.
After Midnight with Boston Blackie is a 1943 crime film directed by Lew Landers. It is the fifth of a series of 14 Columbia Pictures films starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie. When a recently paroled friend of Boston Blackie is killed, he finds himself once again the prime suspect of Police Inspector Farraday.
One Mysterious Night is a 1944 crime film, the seventh in a Columbia Pictures series of fourteen starring Chester Morris as reformed crook Boston Blackie. It was preceded by The Chance of a Lifetime and followed by Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion. Blackie is called upon to recover a stolen diamond.
Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion is the eighth of 14 Columbia Pictures B movies starring Chester Morris as reformed thief Boston Blackie.
Boomerang Bill is an extant 1922 American silent crime melodrama film produced by Cosmopolitan Productions and distributed through Paramount Pictures. Adapted from a Boston Blackie short story by Jack Boyle, it was directed by Tom Terriss and stars veteran actor Lionel Barrymore. It is preserved incomplete at the Library of Congress and George Eastman House.
Boston Blackie and the Law is the twelfth of fourteen Columbia Pictures films starring Chester Morris as reformed crook Boston Blackie.
A Close Call for Boston Blackie (1946) is the tenth of fourteen Columbia Pictures crime films directed by Lew Landers starring Chester Morris as Boston Blackie.
Through the Dark is a 1924 American silent mystery crime drama film directed by George W. Hill, and starring Colleen Moore and Forrest Stanley as the popular jewel thief and sometimes detective character Boston Blackie. The film's scenario, written by Frances Marion, is based on the short story "The Daughter of Mother McGinn" by Jack Boyle, which appeared in serial form in Cosmopolitan. The film was produced by William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan Productions and distributed through Goldwyn Pictures.
The Phantom Thief is a 1946 American crime film directed by D. Ross Lederman. The film follows detective Boston Blackie as he tries to track down a blackmailer-murderer. As the investigation goes on, a supernatural element becomes clear.
The Poppy Girl's Husband is a 1919 American silent drama film directed by William S. Hart and Lambert Hillyer and written by Jules Boyle and C. Gardner Sullivan. The film stars William S. Hart, Juanita Hansen, Walter Long, Fred Starr, David Kirby and Georgie Stone. The film was released on March 16, 1919, by Paramount Pictures. A copy of the film is held in the Museum of Modern Art film archive.
Missing Millions is a 1922 American silent drama film directed by Joseph Henabery and written by Jack Boyle and Albert S. Le Vino. The Boston Blackie film stars Alice Brady, David Powell, Frank Losee, Riley Hatch, John B. Cooke, William B. Mack, and George LeGuere. The film was released on September 17, 1922, by Paramount Pictures.
Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture is a 1949 mystery film directed by Seymour Friedman, starring Chester Morris. This was the last of Columbia's 14 Boston Blackie pictures (1941–49). Richard Lane, as long-suffering Inspector Farraday, was the only other character who appeared in all of the Boston Blackie films. George E. Stone, playing Blackie's sidekick The Runt, missed the first and the last films in the series due to illness. In Chinese Venture Stone was replaced by Sid Tomack as "Shorty."
Boston Blackie's Rendezvous is a 1945 American crime film directed by Arthur Dreifuss. The working title of this film was Surprise in the Night.
Trapped by Boston Blackie is a 1948 American crime drama directed by Seymour Friedman. It is the thirteenth of fourteen Columbia Pictures films starring Chester Morris as reformed crook Boston Blackie, and the final film with George E. Stone as "The Runt".
Blackie's Redemption, also known by its working title Powers That Pray, is a 1919 American silent drama film directed by John Ince. It stars Bert Lytell, Alice Lake, and Henry Kolker, and was released on April 14, 1919.
Boston Blackie, Detective Drama.