Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


DICK TRACY MEETS GRUESOME (1947). Director: John Rawlins.

The fourth and last of RKO's Dick Tracy features again stars Ralph Byrd -- who is terrific in the part -- as the intrepid detective, this time involved with a gang who use a paralyzing gas to sort of freeze people so that they can walk into banks unobserved and rob them with little effort. The picture is greatly abetted by the presence of Boris Karloff as the killer -- smarter than the usual one, however -- known as Gruesome. A character named X-Ray (Skelton Knaggs) takes one look at Gruesome and says "he certainly is," even though he's even less attractive. A clever bit has Karloff appearing to be dead and waking up in the morgue to smoke a cigarette as an unsuspecting cop goes about his business. Anne Gwynne is perky as Tess Trueheart, if not as sexy as Anne Jeffreys. Cadaverous Milton Parsons is on hand as the frightened Dr. A. Tomic, who's afraid someone is out to kill him. June Clayworth is his assistant I. (Ida) Learned. Byrd saunters through this stuff without ever losing his dignity. These features, while entertaining enough, were never as much fun as the Dick Tracy serials that also starred Byrd. Others in this series were Dick Tracy, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball and Dick Tracy's Dilemma.

Verdict: No classic, but don't give it the Byrd. **1/2.

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