DICK TRACY’S DILEMMA (director: John Rawlins; screenwriters: Robert Stephen Brode/based on the comic strip by Chester Gould; cinematographer: Frank Redman; editor: Marvin Coil; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Ralph Byrd (Dick Tracy), Lyle Latell (Pat Patton), Kay Christopher (Tess Trueheart), Jack Lambert (Steve Michel, aka The Claw), Ian Keith (Vitamin Flintheart), Bernadene Hayes (Longshot Lillie), Jimmy Conlin (Sightless), Wade Crosby (Jigger, Blinking Skull bartender), William B. Davidson (Peter Premium), Tony Barrett (Sam), Richard Powers (Fred), Charles Marsh (Humphreys), Al Bridge (Mr. Cudd, Honesty Insurance Investigator); Runtime: 60; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Herman Schlom; RKO; 1947)
“My dilemma is that I recall liking the comic strip as a kid yet am less than thrilled with this flat and at times unbearably grating detective story programmer.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
After seeing the film I still don’t know what’s Dick Tracy’s dilemma, but my dilemma is that I recall liking the comic strip as a kid yet am less than thrilled with this flat and at times unbearably grating detective story programmer. John Rawlins (“The Arizona Ranger”/”Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror”/”Sudan”) directs as if on automatic pilot; it’s based on the comic strip by Chester Gould and the weak script is written by Robert Stephen Brode.
After an hiatus of ten years and recovering from an auto accident, Dick Tracy lookalike Ralph Byrd returns to the character he had originated for Republic in the long-running Dick Tracy serial. When the Flawless Furs warehouse’s vault is robbed at night of its furs and the nightwatchman is killed, ace NYC police detective Dick Tracy and his bumbling partner Pat Patton (Lyle Latell) investigate the crime scene. The dick interviews fur company owner Humphries (Charles Marsh) and the insurance president Peter Premium (William B. Davidson) and Mr. Cudd (Al Bridge), the insurance company’s investigator. Finding a scribbled note on the night-watchman’s body points them in the direction of looking for three men driving a truck. Further clues come to Tracy from a street hustler working a phony blind beggar act in front of the shady Blinking Skull bar. Tracy’s police informer is named Sightless (Jimmy Conlin) and reports that he overheard the fur thief, who hangs out in the back room of the Blinking Skull, arrange to meet a fence on Hemp Street. The psychopathic leader of the three man gang, nicknamed Claw (Jack Lambert), when he discovers Sightless snooping around uses the iron hook in one of his hands to viciously claw Sightless to death.
Tracy’s investigation uncovers an insurance scam devised by someone above Claw, as he maneuvers around some quirky characters that include a pretentious and flamboyant Shakespearean actor named Vitamin Flintheart (Ian Keith), who takes the place of Sightless, and Claw’s two double-crossing henchmen Fred and Sam. In the end the handicapped killer accidentally gets juiced to death, as the square-jawed Tracy solves another case and justice prevails one way or the other.
REVIEWED ON 11/12/2007 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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