The Heart of Boston Blackie

March 23, 2016 at 9:38 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Heart of Boston Blackie

This announcement from the July 21, 1923 issue of Camera! is puzzling, and just plain wrong on several levels.  Laura La Plante was the female lead in a Boston Blackie production from Universal in 1923, but it was most certainly not a serial.  And Miss La Plante did not play Mary.  And the film was not titled The Heart of Boston Blackie.  And it was not based on a story from The Red Book Magazine.  Oh, and it didn’t feature any of the actors mentioned as candidates for the role of Blackie.  So just what was this film that Camera! tried almost in vain to promote?

By late summer of 1923, newspapers and magazines ran a number of items about Laura La Plante’s upcoming appearance in Universal’s Boston Blackie film The Daughter of Crooked Alley, but by the time it was released to theaters on November 7, 1923 its title had been shortened to simply Crooked Alley.  This early item from Camera! makes it sound as though the film was based on a story in The Red Book, also titled “The Heart of Boston Blackie,” while most other press promoting the film claimed its source was Jack Boyle’s popular magazine tale “A Daughter of Crooked Alley.”  In actuality, no magazine ever published such a story by Boyle.  Crooked Alley’s scenario was adapted from an original story written expressly for the screen by Jack Boyle.  And though Laura La Plante was the film’s female lead, she played Noreen Tyrell (as Blackie’s Mary is noticeably absent from the film).  Finally, though Herbert Rawlinson did star in a Jack Boyle inspired drama — Stolen Secrets — in 1924, he never played Boston Blackie.  In Crooked Alley, that role went to actor Thomas Carrigan.

Though Camera! went far wide of the mark in announcing this production, today Crooked Alley is one of only two Boston Blackie movies from the silent era known to have survived in its entirety.  A print is held in the film archives of the University of California Los Angeles, and it was was screened at the 2002 UCLA Festival of Preservation.  Perhaps one day it will be made more widely available to modern day fans of Jack Boyle.

JBF  3/23/16

Advertisements

Permalink 2 Comments

The Riddle of the Bogus Boyle – Revisited!

March 7, 2016 at 10:02 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last year, I published an entry on April 27, 2015 titled “The Riddle of the Bogus Boyle,” in which I presented an item from the magazine The Writer.  It spoke of an impostor who stole the identities of both Jack Boyle and fellow author Courtney Ryley Cooper in the early 1920s, bilking money from publishers and movie producers through the imposture.  At the time, I pointed out that the physical description of this literary hoaxer sounded suspiciously like the man who impersonated author Rufus Steele in Denver, Colorado around 1914, a one-time crony of Jack Boyle before the pair had a violent falling out.  While my comments were only educated speculation, further information has come to light which warrants giving the incident a second look.  The May 22, 1920 edition of The Los Angeles Herald included an item titled “Cooper Disowns Double in $800 Film MixUp,” detailing how the infamous impostor collected $800.00 from two Los Angeles film producers for stories he contracted to write as Courtney Ryley Cooper.  The article offers these enlightening comments from the real Mr. Cooper:

“Judging from the description of the gentleman, he is the person whom I exposed in Denver several years ago while he was masquerading under the name of Rufus Steele, the San Francisco author, claiming incidentally that he wrote under the name of Jack Boyle.  At that time he stated that his real name was William Steele and that he lived somewhere in Oklahoma  …  The funny part of it is he cannot write a line.  And the worst of it is that he doesn’t give poor Jack Boyle a chance.  Boyle’s a real flesh and blood person — but he’s only a nom de plume whenever Steele’s impersonations — if this is Steele — get up steam and start working.”

Still not proof positive that it was William F. “Rufus” Steele who stole the identities of Boyle and Courtney Ryley Cooper ninety-five years ago, but it certainly sounds as though Cooper believed it to be so.  And I can’t help but agree with him.

JBF  3/7/16

 

Permalink Leave a Comment