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Dick Tracy, Detective
Dick Tracy

USA 1945
produced by
Sid Rogell, Herman Schlom (executive) for RKO
directed by William Berke
starring Morgan Conway, Anne Jeffreys, Mike Mazurki, Jane Greer, Lyle Latell, Joseph Crehan, Mickey Kuhn, Trevor Bardette, Morgan Wallace, Milton Parsons, William Halligan
screenplay by Eric Taylor, based on the comic strip by Chester Gould

Dick Tracy, Dick Tracy (Morgan Conway), RKO's Dick Tracy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Available on DVD !

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Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
When a schoolteacher is killed, it neatly fits into the killing spree of a maniac, who picks his victims regardless of gender, age or social rank, but stabs them all to death after writing them extortion letters, all signed Splitface.

It seems the case is unsolvable, despite the extortion letters, but Dick Tracy, detective (Morgan Conway) follows a few leads of his own, always under pressure from the mayor (William Halligan), who has just received one of the extortion letters himself.

Soon Dick - always standing up his girlfriend Tess (Anne Jeffreys), whom he has promised to take out for months - collects a whole array of suspects, including nightclub owner Owens (Morgan Wallace), funeral home owner Deathridge (Milton Parsons), & weird astrologist & fortune teller Starling (Trevor Bardette), who, rather unwillingly like in trance, gives Dick the decisive clue - that there will be 14 murders ... 14 like in the 12 jurors & their 2 substitutes in a trial - which is of course what links all the victims & he would be victims of Splitface to each other, they all convicted a murderer who swore deadly revenge, & who broke out of jail just recently.

But how could Starling possibly know this ?

Could he be Splitface ?

Nope, just an accomplice who provided Splitface with a hideout & who, when he learned of Splitface plans, wrote the extortion letters to the victims to earn some money on the side. QWhen Splitface himself (Mike Marzurki) learns about Starling's scheme though, he doesn't hesitate & kills his accomplice ... alas too late, since he, unwittingly, has already put Dick Tracy & the police on the right trail.

Splitface does the only logical thing, he kidnaps Dick's sweetheart Tess (who still waits for a date with Dick), but doesn't realize that Dick's adoptive son Junior (Mickey Kuhn) has hopped onto the car Splitface is driving Tess away with & lays out clues so Dick can easily follow them to Splitface hideout & arrest the badman.

 

After Republic had made 4 successful serials about Dick Tracy but abandoned any further projects with the super detective, RKO decided to pick up the property in the mid-40's & make a series of B-pictures. Unfortunately their choice of lead-actor, the charisma-free Morgan Conway proved to be less than fortunate, so after only 2 pictures, RKO dropped him again & cast the original Dick Tracy from the Republic-serials, Ralph Byrd, again. However, only 2 more Dick Tracy films with Byrd were made (both in 1947) before RKO dropped the property as well, presumably because b-movie-sereis as such were coming to an end towards the late 40's, giving way to that new medium, television, which indeed proved to be the perfect place for all sorts of inexpensive-to-produce series ... & indeed, in 1950, Ralph Byrd was back playing his most famous role - this time on television.

Dick Tracy, Detective as a film itself is a rather routine crime-thriller, with a tried-&-true story executed without any panache, & - since RKO could afford some good production values even for their B's - it is incredibly slick - too slick for my taste - & totally lacks the grittiness & roughness an urban crime story of this kind should have.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD