DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL (1946). Director: Gordon Douglas.
Although Ralph Byrd played the famous cartoon strip detective in several cliffhanger serials, when they began making feature-length Tracy movies they first hired Morgan Conway to play the part. Conway isn't bad, but he's not as perfect for the role as Byrd is. In this very fast-paced thriller, Tracy is up against a bald, nasty criminal named Cueball (Dick Wessel, who is very effective) who is after some diamonds or their cash equivalent and strangles anyone who gets in his way (director Douglas includes lots of vivid close ups of people about to be dispatched by Cueball). There are a lot of colorful characters in this, not the least of which is "Filthy" Flora (Esther Howard), proprietress of the Dripping Dagger bar, who mistakenly thinks she can outwit the malevolent Cueball. Anne Jeffreys is Tess Trueheart and Ian Keith is the florid "Vitamin."
Verdict: Minor but fun. **1/2.