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Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome

USA 1947
produced by
Herman Schlom for RKO
directed by John Rawlins
starring Boris Karloff, Ralph Byrd, Edward Ashley, June Clayworth, Lyle Latell, Tony Barrett, Skelton Knaggs, Anne Gwynne, Milton Parsons, Jim Nolan, Joseph Crehan, Bert Roach, Tom Keene, Phil Arnold, Jason Robards sr, Lex Barker, Robert Malcolm, Harry Harvey, William Gould, Sean McClory
screenplay by Eric Taylor, Robertson White, based on a story by William Graffis, Robert E.Kent, & the comic strip by Chester Gould, music by Paul Sawtell

Dick Tracy, Dick Tracy (Ralph Byrd), RKO's Dick Tracy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The National Bank is robbed in a most peculiar manner: by some poisoned gas, all the customers, & personnel alike, are frozen stiff for a quarter of an hour, enough time for robbers Melody (Tony Barrett) & Gruesome (Boris Karloff) to waltz in & empty it of its money. but since Melody loses his nerves anyways 6 shoots a securtiy guard just for good measure, this becomes a case for Homicide ... & for Dick Tracy (Ralph Byrd).

At first though, Tracy has very little to go on, merely a stiff his partner Pat Patton (Lyle Latell) has brought into the morgue, & who soon got better & walked away - the stiff was of course Gruesome who did some involuntary self-tests on the gas he later used in the bank robbery -, & the case of missing scientist Dr A.Tomic (Milton Parsons), whose assistant I.M.Learned (June Clayworth) uses just one excuse too many explaining his disappearance ...

& of course, Miss Learned is the lover of Dr Lee Thal, for whom she stole a certain gas from A.Tomic that can instantly freeze people stiff, & Lee Thal in turns is in cahoots with Gruesome & Melody. But when Gruesome finds out that Learned was followed, he shoots her, & an ensuing carchase ends in a carwreck, where Gruesome has to leave his colleague Melody behind badly injured.

Melody is of course arrested, but dies before he can be questioned. So Tracy comes up with one of these B-thriller plans: he has his own face bandaged & poses as Melody, in hopes that he is eventually broken free by Gruesome & company (that consisting in this case of X-Ray [Skelton Knaggs], Lee Thal's assistant), which is of course happening before you know it ... but unfortunately Gruesome is clever enough to shake his pursuers, & he almost puts Tracy to death in his incinerator, but after a fight is knocked out & almost lands in there himself ...

 

The last of the RKO-Dick Tracys did somewhat leave the boring police drama/murder mystery-formula behind for a more fantastic, comicbook-style, anything-goes story, which gives some freshness to the rather dull series, & of course Boris Karloff is great as usual. Still, even despite the fantastic plot, the in-your-face character-names (with doctors A.Tomic, Lee Thal & I.M.Learned, & taxidermist Y.Stuffum) the film still fails to really take off, basically because it just takes itself way too seriously, & much of the story still follows overused genre-routines. RKO dropped the Dick Tracy series for good after this one, & maybe it was for the best.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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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