The Return of Boston Blackie (Chadwick, 1927)
Boston Blackie (Raymond Glenn), a former jewel thief, has just been released from prison. He intends on going straight and living the quiet life with his dog Strongheart (himself), but his former partner in crime, Denver Dan (Coit Albertson), fears that going straight might also involve ratting him out.
Meanwhile, Necklace Nellie (Rosemary Cooper), who’s under Dan’s employ, has just conned John Markham (William Worthington) out of a valuable bejeweled necklace. A mysterious woman, who turns out to be John’s daughter Sylvia (Corliss Palmer), steals it back – hoping to prevent her mother from discovering her husband’s infidelity.
The police, however, don’t know any of this, and Sylvia is in danger of being caught when Blackie crosses her path…
The film’s plot is convoluted and absolutely full of holes, but it’s not too bad if you turn off your brain and just go with it. It’s obvious that the whole stolen necklace thing is nothing more than an excuse to string scenes together involving Strongheart, and there are some great ones strung together.
Strongheart, born Etzel von Oringer, was a German police and military attack dog. When he was three years old, he was acquired by the American animal trainer Laurence Trimble, who saw in him the makings of a great canine star. And he turned out to be one. Dog actors in general were pretty big in the silent era. Strongheart was preceded by Jean, at Vitagraph; and Luke and Teddy, both at Keystone; and would be followed by Rin Tin Tin, at Warner Bros, who survived into the talkie era and is by far the best remembered today.
The Return of Boston Blackie (1927) was Strongheart’s last and thought to be only extant film. It’s a rather low-budget Chadwick production (you might remember Chadwick for producing Larry Semon’s post-Vitagraph films). The character of Boston Blackie comes from Jack Boyle’s short stories and novellas, but the film has nothing whatsoever to do with those besides the name and it involving a reformed thief.
Again, if you don’t try to find much reason behind it, you’ll probably enjoy the film purely for its action and comic relief scenes.
My rating: I like it.