There were nine silent films in the series. This is the first of the fourteen Chester Morris movies. The last was 1949’s “Boston Blackie’s Chinese Venture.” Series regulars were Richard Lane as Inspector Faraday and Frank Sully as Detective Sgt.Matthews. Blackie’s pal The Runt was played by George E. Stone and later Sid Tomack. In this first entry the part was played by Charles Wagenheim. Frank Sully isn’t in this one. A good start to the series. Later films put more emphasis on comedy.
Blackie and The Runt are just back from Europe and are docking in New York. Blackie spots a blonde passenger named Marilyn being threatened and interferes. She says thanks and isn’t interested in any more conversation. Blackie goes after her and runs into Inspector Faraday.
Faraday thinks he went to Amsterdam to fence pearls from the Mansfield robbery. He takes his landing pass and puts him under arrest. Blackie tells him he wants to go to his cabin but will be available. Faraday agrees. Back in his cabin Blackie discovers the body of the man who was threatening Marilyn. He takes the man’s landing pass and gets off the boat. He leaves a note on the mirror for Faraday.
Blackie and The Runt see Marilyn getting into a cab. They trace her to a Coney Island carnival. He tells the Runt to have Faraday meet him in his apartment while Blackie goes after Marilyn. The two go into the Tunnel Of Horrors and are followed by two men. One throws a dart into Marilyn’s back. Before she dies she gives a few clues to Blackie. They involve the Mechanical Man at one of the shows.
Blackie confronts the Mechanical Man in his dressing room. The killers show up and Blackie escapes. He jumps into a car driven by Cecelia Bradley (Rochelle Hudson). She gets involved in the investigation. Blackie figures out a code being given out by a carnival barker. He disguises himself as a blind man. He doesn’t fool Faraday who wants to arrest him. Blackie knocks him out and escapes along with Cecilia.
They’re on the trail of a spy ring that wants to take a Navy bomb sight out of the country. Blackie has to stay a step ahead of Faraday and Cecilia refuses to leave so Blackie traps her in a Murphy bed. The movie is only an hour and comes to a quick ending. It is worth checking out. Chester Morris is a lot of fun.
Character actor Byron Foulger is the “blind” man Blackie pays to give him his disguise.