The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
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DETECTIVE-PALOOZA: DICK TRACY

DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL (1946) ** ½

Dick Tracy (Morgan Conway) is investigating a series of murders. He does some snooping and discovers they’re connected to a recent diamond robbery. As it turns out, the arch criminal Cueball (Dick Wessel) is going around strangling everyone who cheated him out of his cut of the loot. Dick then uses his girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Anne Jeffreys) as bait to catch Cueball.

Dick Tracy (Morgan Conway) is a bit stiff in this go round. I know he’s supposed to be a square, but that doesn’t mean he had to be so damned dull. And the gag involving Pat Patton (Lyle Latell) getting hit on the head wasn’t funny the first time. It was less funny the twelfth time it happened.

Luckily, Wessel makes for a cool villain. Whenever he’s on screen threatening crooks and strangling stoolies with a ninety five cent hatband, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball is a lot of fun. There are some other neat touches along the way. I liked the bar called The Dripping Dagger that has a neon sign of a bloody knife in the front window.

Director Gordon Douglas’ workmanlike style doesn’t do the movie any favors. He had a long and varied career, directing everything from Them to Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off. If only Douglas incorporated more of the flavor from Chester Gould’s comic strip, perhaps Dick Tracy vs. Cueball might’ve worked a bit better.

DICK TRACY MEETS GRUESOME (1947) ***

Gruesome (Boris Karloff) is a criminal who gets a whiff of nerve gas and is knocked out cold. Presumed dead, he’s taken to the morgue where he later escapes and uses the gas in a daring bank robbery. Dick Tracy investigates and sets out to bring Gruesome and his gang to justice.

Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome benefits greatly from the presence of Boris Karloff. Honestly, the film is probably no better or worse than Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, but the fact that Boris Karloff is in it gives it the edge. And he’s pretty awesome in this movie too. I especially loved the scene where he wakes up in the morgue.

The flick also features the original Dick Tracy, Ralph Byrd reprising his role from the serial. I have nothing against Morgan Conway, but I’ve always preferred Byrd. Plus, he has a profile that’s closer to Tracy’s.

I’ll admit, there are parts of this movie that are just plain goofy. Take for example the bank robbery scene where people have to stand very still to make it look like they’re frozen in time. But when it’s Boris Karloff doing the freezing, it doesn’t really matter.

Dick Tracy’s trusted sidekick Pat Patton gets the best line of the movie when he says: “If I didn’t know any better I’d swear we were doing business with Boris Karloff!”

AKA: Dick Tracy’s Amazing Adventure.

Tags: action, comic book movie, d, dick tracy, karloff, sequel
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