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

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THE BOSTON BLACKIE BOOK – 2016 PROGRESS REPORT #2

February 15, 2016 at 4:27 PM (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I am happy to report that, so far in 2016, work on The Complete Boston Blackie is moving at the pace I projected in my in January progress report.  The “History of Boston Blackie” essay is now complete, and the biographical sketch of Jack Boyle is off to a good start.  As a bit of a sneak preview, here is the opening of the Boston Blackie piece:

“BOSTON BLACKIE KILLED” was the proclamation in the March 29, 1900 edition of The Saint Paul Globe.  At the time, Jack Boyle was an up-and-coming reporter in San Francisco, still more than a decade away from creating his infamous ebony-eyed safecracker of New England heritage, and yet Boston Blackie lay dying in a Michigan saloon.  Or, rather, a Boston Blackie lay dying.  While Boyle would make the name Boston Blackie known around the globe by the 1920s, the appellation was around long before he put pen to paper.  The checkered history of Boston Blackie encompasses a number of men (both real and fictional) all laying claim to the colorful sobriquet.

Thanks for the continued interest in this project, and I’ll be back with another update in a few weeks!

JBF – 2/15/16

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