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Leslie S. Hiscott
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A gang of criminals, which includes a piano player and an imposing former convict known as 'Gruesome', has found out about a scientist's secret formula for a gas that temporarily paralyzes anyone who breathes it. When Gruesome accidentally inhales some of the gas and passes out, the police think he is dead and take him to the morgue, where he later revives and escapes. This puzzling incident attracts the interest of Dick Tracy, and when the criminals later use the gas to rob a bank, Tracy realizes that he must devote his entire attention to stopping them. Written by
Filmed April 1-late April 1947, the last of RKO's four classic Dick Tracy features, and the only one in which Ralph Byrd takes second billing. He would continue playing the character on television, until his untimely death in 1952. See more »
I tell you, if I didn't know better I'd swear we were doing business with Boris Karloff.
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This was my first look at one of these old Dick Tracy movies. I believe most of them were very short, like those, a little over an hour long, and pretty fast-moving. Apparently, this is the fourth and last one of the films. I read where many people think it's the best, so I started here....and wasn't disappointed. It was entertaining.
What I found, at least in this movie, was a mixture of crime and some humor. Here, too, was a little sci-fi thrown in as someone invented a gas that would freeze anyone near it for about 15 minutes. The crooks, of course, freeze everyone at the First National Bank, and then go in and rob it. (These were the days before video cameras.)
Early on, one of the characters mentions something about a creepy-looking guy, "someone like Boris Karloff." The guy WAS Boris Karloff. Later, a doctor who could help the police figure out this mystery gas goes by the name of "Dr. A. Tomic," physicist. Still later, there is a dramatic scene in a room with a big sign that reads, "Y. Stuffem, taxidermist." The film is full of these little corny things making it a crime-comedy type of story.
Yet, the bad guys are tough guys. Karloff is convincing as a big thug who would kill without remorse. To me, he really makes this movie and elevates the crime angle of it beautifully. He was one-of-a-kind: had the perfect look and voice for scary roles on film. Skelton Knaggs, as "X-ray," as a frightening face.
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