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
Available on DVD !
To buy, click on link(s) below and help keep this site afloat
Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
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.
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
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.