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 »
Ralph Byrd is well-suited to the role of Dick Tracy, and this is a solid B-feature overall. But it is Boris Karloff, in the role of "Gruesome", who lifts the movie above the norm for its genre. He makes his character come vividly to life, and makes him into a believable and formidable foe for Tracy.
The story is enjoyable, if a bit on the wacky side, with a gang of criminals taking advantage of a gas that is supposed to cause temporary paralysis in anyone who breathes it. Tess and Pat also get their moments as they help Tracy track down the gang.
Karloff was an impressive and unusual talent, using his appearance, voice, and mannerisms in all kinds of ways, generally relying on the little things and on understated actions to create his character. He was certainly in a number of movies of far greater stature than this one, but in this, as in almost all of his roles, he is very interesting to watch, and he adds a great deal to the movie.
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