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The Chance of a Lifetime

The Chance of a Lifetime(1943)

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teaser The Chance of a Lifetime (1943)

Future horror film producer and showman extraordinaire William Castle worked hard at Columbia to establish his directing credentials. His first feature film outing The Chance of a Lifetime (1943) is the sixth of fourteen Boston Blackie comedy-thrillers starring Chester Morris released between 1941 and 1949. An ex-crook turned sleuth, Horatio Black or Boston Blackie, repeatedly finds himself forced to solve crimes while on the run from the foolish police inspector, John Farraday (Richard Lane).

In this patriotic wartime episode, Blackie and his millionaire industrialist buddy Arthur (Lloyd Corrigan) are arranging for the early release of convicted felons to alleviate the manpower shortage in defense plants. When one of his parolees is suspected of a murder, Blackie frames himself to protect the parole work program. With his resourceful sidekick 'The Runt' (George E. Stone) Blackie leads the cops on a merry chase.

Reviewers noted Castle's creative direction and praised the picture's emphasis on comedy set pieces. Blackie and The Runt going in drag as washerwomen, and finding a clever way to escape from a room with no exit. Variety expressed its approval: "A tug of war in a dumbwaiter in which Morris and Stone are caught while escaping police is a piperoo." With his good looks and flair for smart dialogue, Chester Morris made Boston Blackie a twice-a-year habit for moviegoers, before TV co-opted serialized entertainment.

By Glenn Erickson

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