Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Chester Morris and George E. Stone as Boston and "Runt"
THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME (1943). Director: William Castle.

"You've seen too many bad movies, Boston." -- Nails Blanton.

Ex-con and adventurer Boston Blackie (Chester Morris of Red-Headed Woman) importunes the prison board to release several men -- none of whom are what he terms "habitual criminals" -- so they can aid the war effort. Twelve of these test cases get jobs in a factory owned by Arthur Manleder (Lloyd Corrigan) and move in to Boston's apparently spacious apartment. Unfortunately, one of these men, Dooley Watson (Erik Rolf), is allowed to see his wife and child and uses the opportunity to try to get some money he stole years before. Also covetous of the money is Nails Blanton (Douglas Fowley of Behind Locked Doors), leading to a gun battle and Boston being accused of murder. Naturally Boston escapes from Inspector Farraday (Richard Lane) -- there's a good scene when he and his sidekick, the Runt (George E. Stone). descend in a dumb waiter as part of their getaway -- and later the two dress in drag to take the place of two inebriated scrub women (one of whom is Maude Eburne) to get at a safe in police HQ. An unusual feature of the flick is that aside from Dooley Watson's wife (Jeanne Bates of The Phantom) and Nail's briefly-seen, unnamed moll, there are no women in the film for Boston to dally with. Corpulent Cy Kendall, also briefly-seen, shows up as a character appropriately named Jumbo. The Chance of a Lifetime has an interesting premise but the film itself is tedious. As everything is spelled out for you in TV episode fashion, this has no surprises and hence little suspense.

Verdict: Sometimes the Boston Blackie movies work; sometime not. **.

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