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Monday, March 2, 2009

DICK TRACY VS CUEBALL (1946) / DICK TRACY’S DILEMMA (1947)


RKO never got in gear with their abbreviated Dick Tracy feature series. Morgan Conway, who stars in the first two (CUEBALL was #2; DILEMMA was fourth & last) is a pleasant, but rumpled actor, without the appropriate Dick Tracy profile or dash. Ralph Byrd, who did the last two (he’d been Tracy in serials @ Monogram) has the snappy profile, but little else. CUEBALL tries for a bit of visual flair with some nifty framing devices, odd camera angles & even some cute life-at-home stuff, but is stymied by a dud villain. It’s just the opposite in DILEMMA where the film only comes fitfully alive when ‘The Claw’ is on screen. Maybe entries 1 & 3 marry the best elements seen here. The real surprise is seeing just how nasty the violence is. How’d they get away with it? Comic-book license or sheer indifference from the Breen Censorship Office?

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