Monday, June 24, 2013

Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947)

Director: John Rawlins

Starring: Boris Karloff, Ralph Byrd, Anne Gwynne, Edward Ashley, June Claywaorth, Lyle Latell, Tony Barrett, Skelton Knaggs, James Nolan, Joseph Crehan, Milton Parsons

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Horror Man Traps Super-Sleuth!

Plot: A gang of criminals, which includes a piano player and an imposing former convict known as 'Gruesome', has found out about a scientist's secret formula for a gas that temporarily paralyzes anyone who breathes it. When Gruesome accidentally inhales some of the gas and passes out, the police think he is dead and take him to the morgue, where he later revives and escapes. This puzzling incident attracts the interest of Dick Tracy, and when the criminals later use the gas to rob a bank, Tracy realizes that he must devote his entire attention to stopping them.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Of course.

Ralph Byrd is all kinds of fun as Dick Tracy.  There were four one hour films made in the 1940s, only two of which had Byrd return as Tracy.  He also did four serials in the '30s.  I've seen two of them.  He brings that smiley optimism that can turn into cold badass when necessary.  This picture is a blast and it's in no small part to having Karloff as the villain.  He's fantastic. 

The first 40 minutes of DTMG is lightning fast.  Several scenes (the initial one with Tracy and the reporter has words flying fast and furious and it's one of the best word fights I've seen in a while) fly by and have some great, witty lines.  The gas part of the plot is a neat idea and it works well with the story.  Yeah, it's kind of hokey but it's fun and it fits in nicely with this type of light entertainment.  If you haven't seen any of these four pictures, start with this one and DICK TRACY'S DILEMMA (1947) before heading over to the two pictures made with Morgan Conway in the starring role.  They're still fun but Ralph Byrd was the best in the role.

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