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Dick Tracy - created by Chester Gould
There's something about this comic strip that I have always loved...its odd meshing of old gumshow jargon and gangsters with (for the time) gadgets that were simply not in existence...some still are not. The fact that Dick was tough as nails and always got his man was something to look up to, although I never cared for the casting of Warren Beatty in the role I also love the bright reds, yellows and blues of the movie at least giving it a brilliant comic book look. As for the serials...well, I am always a sucker to sit down and watch five or six episodes of any serial from the 30's and 40's, if only to spot all the flaws and flimsy sets.
On May 10, 1985, at the age of 85, the world lost Chester Gould, creator of one of the world's greatest fictional detectives...Dick Tracy.
Gould was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on November 20, 1900. He published his first commercial illustrations in the local paper at age 7. When he hit 21 he decided to move to Chicago to attend Northwestern University, where he graduated in 1923. After graduation he flitted around within such newspaper circles as the Hearst Syndicate drawing cartoon strips like "Fillum Fables"
As Prohibition kicked in and mobsters in Chicago were gaining not only celebrity status but being seen as icons by the kids...Gould made his mark. Gould created the square-jawed Dick Tracy to battle the ugly side of society.
It was his publisher, Joe Patterson that suggested Gould change the name of the character from the obvious 'Plainclothes Tracy' to Dick Tracy and the name not only struck but became synonymous with fighting crime.
Hollywood, as always, was smart to move onto a popular phenomena and as early as 1936 Dick Tracy was appearing in serial movies, there was a radio show and, of course, toys, toys, and more toys. What kid didn't want a TV wristwatch?
As Chester hit his late 70's he was beginning to tire of the strip...go figure...and he gave the reins to the creative team of Max Allan Collins & Rick Fletcher who took over the strip in 1977.
Gould died on May 10, 1985 but Dick Tracy lives on in four colors every Sunday somewhere in the world and now on DVD.
Dick Tracy (1990): Legendary police detective Dick Tracy is the only man tough enough to take on gangster boss Big Boy Caprice and his band of menacing mobsters. Dedicated to his work but at the same time devoted to his loyal girlfriend, Tess Trueheart, Tracy find himself torn between love and duty. His relentless crusade against crime becomes even more difficult when he gets saddled with an engaging orphan and meets seductive and sultry Breathless Mahoney, a torch singer determined to get the best of Tracy. A faceless character, the Blank, threatens both Tracy and Big Boy, and it takes all of Tracy's skills to save the city.
Dick Tracy (Cliffhangers): This was the initial entry of the Dick Tracy serials from Republic Pictures in 1937. In this super thriller, a clubfooted criminal known only as the Lame One, masterminds a war on G-men. One of his villainous plans it to destroy the new Bay Bridge (which looks suspiciously like the Golden Gate) by bombarding it with high-frequency sound waves from his stratospheric aircraft, "The Wing". In the meantime, Dick Tracy's brother is kidnapped and forced to aid the notorious Lame One, who turns out to be...? This serial features fistfights, car chases and aerial stunts as only Republic Pictures could stage them. For lovers of serial thrills and action, Dick Tracy really delivers the goods.
This harkens back to the early days of Republic Studios and they were cashing in on Chester Gould's hit comic strip/radio show. The DVD has some nice extras as well: A chapter selection, a photo gallery, but the real cool perk is the commentary track by Max Allan Collins. Max wrote the Dick Tracy Comic Strip for 15 years after Chester Gould retired. The other nice touch is a photo montage of Gould at work, again with commentary by Max. Think of it as a mini-biography on the man behind Dick Tracy.
Dick Tracy (Movie Box Set - 1947): Includes Dick Tracy - Detective, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, Dick Tracy's - Dilemma, and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome.
The first two films, Dick Tracy (1945) and Dick Tracy Vs. Cueball (1946), starred Morgan Conway as Tracy and Anne Jeffreys as Tess Trueheart. In Detective, Mike Mazurki is Splitface. Cueball was played by Dick Wessell; director Gordon Douglas would later give us The Doolins Of Oklahoma, Them!, Charge At Feather River and several of Frank Sinatra's Sixties vehicles.
The last two films (both 1947) saw the return of the Tracy serial star, Ralph Byrd. To many, Byrd is Dick Tracy, with a real resemblance to Gould's drawings. (Byrd went on to play Tracy in the TV series.) In Dick Tracy's Dilemma, Jack Lambert is The Claw, while Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, boasts a great turn by Boris Karloff as Tracy's latest adversary.
This box set includes some really cool perks for fans of the series: An interview with Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould. More Commentaries with Max Allan Collins (as mentioned previously, the writer of Dick Tracy Comic Strips for a long time) and 4 Radio Broadcasts along with a real treasure: "Dick Tracy in B Flat" an Armed Forces Radio Show that features the voice talents of: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dina Shore and Jimmy Durante.
Dick Tracy (Collector's Edition): Another DVD of Dick Tracy serials from 1937. Ralph Byrd stars as Dick Tracy as he battles the ruthless Spider Ring in this action-packed 15 episode serial. Cringe on the edge of your seat as Tracy is forced to save himself time and again. Your heart will race as each chapter ends in a nail biting cliffhanger! See for yourself if the famous detective will survive long enough to foil the diabolical schemes of the Spider Ring's murderous leader, The Lame One. This film print was provided by famous film collector and Spider Gang member Paul Adair.
Like the aforementioned older titles this includes the commentary tracks by Max Allan Collins and photo galleries.
Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul