Steven Hellerstedt | 10/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(...) the three films and a scant extras on CLASSIC DICK TRACY make it a tremendous value.
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome - Boris Karloff plays Gruesome, who robs banks and likes to incinerate his victims.
Dick Tracy vs. Cueball - Dick Wessel plays Cueball, who steals diamonds and likes to strangle his victims with a leather strap.
Dick Tracy's Dilemma - Jack Lambert plays The Claw, who steals furs and likes to hack his victims with the hook at the end of his right arm.
The extras: Short text biographies of Boris Karloff and Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould, a very short selected Karloff filmography, and a harmless page or two of Dick Tracy trivia.
"Gruesome" and "Dilemma" star Ralph Byrd as Tracy, a role his square jaw suggests he was born to play. Morgan Conway plays the super cop in "Cueball." Byrd played Tracy in an earlier serial, while Conway was the first to play him in a movie.
These short films were produced by RKO Radio Studios, which gave us some of the greatest psychological crime dramas in history. The production values, cinematography, and supporting cast are all above average for these quickly produced low budget films.
RKO gilded its reputation by presenting films that probed the twisted psychology or its heroes and villains. The beauty of formulaic entries like these Dick Tracy movies is that they avoid that approach entirely. The Bad Guy is wired to receive signals from nothing higher than his reptile brain. Gruesome, Cueball, and the Claw are simply evil, all greedy appetite with a well-honed fight-or-flight response. They have no depth at all. The short biography on Gould tells us that he wrote Tracy in reaction to the "glamorized" gangsters of the 1930s. He wanted to give the public a Good Guy to root for. Ergo Dick Tracy, a vacant trenchcoat and fedora who's hardwired to that attic space in the brain that controls our dedication to Justice and fighting Evil. Beyond canceling dinner dates with sweetheart Tess Trueheart (a running gag throughout all the movies, one which wore thin pretty quick) and chasing criminals, there isn't much to Tracy's personality. The criminals may have been drained of their glitz, but they're still a lot more interesting than the hero.
I enjoyed all these movies immensely. I'm not all that familiar with Dick Tracy, but I imagine we have Gould to thank for having his villains hang out with characters like Filthy Flora in such colorfully named dives as The Hanging Noose and the Dripping Dagger. Vitamins Flintheart, a bad and annoyingly flamboyant actor, and Tracy sidekick, seems a Gould character as well. The transfer seems uniformly well done. Things stay in focus and there's no buzzing on the soundtrack. Better yet, the transfer prints were in very good shape, considering their age. Best of all, these pleasant films are suitable for all ages.
The Encyclopedia Tromatica | Fort Worth, TX | 12/24/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The collection of Dick Tracy movies offered by the Roan Group is much better, and the Roan DVDs offer all of the movies on two discs. This set is not worth spending your money on. You will pay a lot more for a lot less by buying this."
Dick Tracy Bonanza
The Encyclopedia Tromatica | 11/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1945, the world beheld Dick Tracy, a popular comic strip, materialize to screen. The first film (which is not in this collection), was entertaining, but lacked the excitment, and the panache of the comic strip.
RKO Radio Pictures (it's distributar), realized this, and started to make pictures that were almost identical to the beloved comic strip.
"Dick Tracy Meets Cueball", was in the greatest Gould tradition. For one, Morgan Conway is just the image of good old Dick, and the story, is amazingly entertaining.
The others were exellent too, and here are the ratings and casts for each of them:Dick Tracy Meets Cueball ***** PG
with Morgan Conway
Ian KeithDick Tracy's Dillema ***** PG
with Ralph Byrd
Kay ChristopherBORIS KARLOFF.RALPH BYRD in
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome ***** G
with Anne Gwenn