Includes: 4 Movies on 2 DVDs
1. Dick Tracy, Detective (1945)
2. Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946)
3. Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947)
4. Dick Tracy's Dilemma (1947)
Dick Tracy, Detective Dick Tracy, Detective (originally just Dick Tracy)
was the first of four RKO Radio B-pictures based on Chester Gould's classic comic strip. Though Ralph Byrd is most closely associated with the role of Tracy, the title character is played herein by Morgan Conway (Byrd would be seen as Tracy in the last two series entries).
The jut-jawed detective takes on a vicious criminal named Splitface (Mike Mazurki), who upon escaping from jail vows to murder the jurors who found him guilty and their alternates. He manages to knock off three before the police force figures out what's happening. Galvanized into action, Dick Tracy and his partner Pat Patton (Lyle Latell) track Splitface to a deserted riverboat (a leftover set from the 1945 RKO feature Man Alive) where the villain is holding Tracy's girlfriend Tess Truehart (Anne Jeffreys) and adopted son Junior (Mickey Kuhn) captive. When asked about Dick Tracy Detective in 1990, Anne Jeffreys flatly denied she'd ever played Tess Trueheart until she caught up with the film on videotape. She'd completely forgotten the whole experience.
~ Hal Erickson, Rovi Dick Tracy vs. Cueball Morgan Conway made his final screen appearance as Chester Gould's granite-jawed detective Dick Tracy in this RKO Radio programmer. This time around, Tracy's nemesis is baldheaded jewel thief Cueball, played with blunt menace by Dick Wessel. Double-crossed by his gang, Cueball methodically bumps them off. This would normally delight the cops, who'd been wanting to get rid of the gang anyway, but unfortunately Cueball has vowed to eliminate Tracy as well. The villain's ultimate demise is as good as anything cooked up by Chester Gould for the comic strips. Directed and written in the same larger-than-life style of the Gould original, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball features such colorful characters as Tracy's main squeeze Tess Trueheart (Anne Jeffreys), pill-popping ham actor Vitamin Flintheart (Ian Keith), waterfront hag Filthy Flora (Esther Howard) and jewelry shop proprietor Jules Priceless (Douglas Walton). For reasons that defy explanation, this delightfully daffy concoction was spotlighted in the notorious volume The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.
~ Hal Erickson, Rovi Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome Befitting his status as a genre star, Boris Karloff earns top billing over leading man Ralph Byrd in RKO's final Dick Tracy caper. The former Frankenstein monster plays an escaped convict masterminding a daring bank robbery. To get in and out of the bank without being noticed, the gang uses an asphyxiating gas that leaves anyone inside momentarily frozen in place. Everyone, that is, except for bank customer Tess Truehart (Anne Gwynne), who is able to contact Dick Tracy (Byrd) from a phone booth in the bank. With little or no clues, Tracy and his man Friday, Pat Patton (Lyle Latell), question the bank customers but none can shed any light on the mysterious goings-on. The disappearance of Dr. A. Tomic (Milton Parsons) and the odd behavior of his associate, Dr. I.M. Learned (June Clayworth), crack the case wide open, however, and Tracy is eventually able to track down both Gruesome and the surprising identity of his boss, L.E. Thal (Edward Ashley). According to some reports, RKO wanted to release Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome as "Dick Tracy Meets Karloff" but that title was vetoed by Karloff himself. The legendary horror star apparently later accepted his own box-office value and a 1949 Universal comedy was released as Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff.
~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi Dick Tracy's Dilemma Ralph Byrd returns to the character he had originated ten years earlier in the serial Dick Tracy. This time, Chester Gould's immortal comic strip hero is called in to handle a fur theft. The owner of Flawless Furs, Humphreys (Charles Marsh), has just signed on with the Honesty Insurance Company whose investigator, Cudd (Al Bridge), made him change the combination to the vault. The insurance policy --as the head of Honesty, Peter Premium (William B. Davidson), explains -- holds the company liable if the stolen furs haven't been recovered within 24 hours of the theft. The trail leads to Longshot Lily (Bernadene Hayes), a would-be fence who is promptly arrested. But when Tracy's snitch, Sightless (Jimmy Conlin), is found brutally murdered, the detective realizes that he has more than a simple fur theft on his hands. With the help of master thespian Vitamin Flintheart (Ian Keith) and ever-present sidekick Pat Patton (Lyle Latell), Tracy follows a series of clues that leads him to a deserted junkyard and a fateful confrontation with fiendish killer "the Claw" (Jack Lambert). Dick Tracy's Dilemma was followed by Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947), after which RKO retired the series. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi