Dick Tracy’s Dilemma
Dick Tracy’s Dilemma 1947
Over halfway through these Dick Tracy films I’ve finally hit the first of two released in 1947 which fit in with a certain 1947 blogathon going on. Dick Tracy’s Dilemma interestingly keeps much of the supporting cast of the first two films. But replaces Morgan Conway’s Dick Tracy with Ralph Byrd who actually was the original Dick Tracy in the earlier serials. With the change in leads came a slight change in tone, where Dick Tracy vs Cueball has been the lightest of the three films so far, this one would be the most serious in tone as well as the most suspenseful. Even with the more serious tone, it was still an overall fun watch with enough comic relief from the side characters to help lighten the overall tone.
The structure of the plot essentially followed the same format of the previous two films. The film starts off with a robbery and a murder which escalates with a few more bodies while Dick Tracy investigates until the final showdown with Tracy and the villain. The villain this time around is a very brutish looking Jack Lambert as The Claw who features bushy eyebrows, an iron hook on his right hand that he keeps tucked inside his coat, and a gimp foot that he drags while walking. He also ends up getting shot halfway through the film and while it knocks him out for a while, he basically shrugs it off.
With the return of Ralph Byrd in the lead role of Dick Tracy, the film ended up losing a lot of the more friendly charisma that Morgan Conway had with his interactions between himself and Pat Patton or even Junior. In fact, Junior is completely removed from this episode which results in a more serious and hard nosed Tracy. Also gone is most of the running gag of Tracy missing out on Tess’s dates, it’s merely a sidenote at the end of the film, the same holds true with Pat Patton’s comic relief. He still gets knocked in the head at one point by the Claw, but instead of being treated like a gag, it’s more of a serious note where he quickly recovers and starts shooting at the Claw, even wounding him. Even the most flamboyant character Vitamin gets a reduction in his over the top characteristics and only has a few brief moments that feel very reserved when compared to his scenes in Dick Tracy vs Cueball.
The actual plot of the murder and robbery mystery plays out well with a nice buildup, a back and forth between who may or may not be behind it all, and a bit of a twist at the end. The addition of Sightless was a nice moment, he’s a “blind” beggar selling his wares out of a box on his chest in front of a bar. He actually gets quite a bit of screen time as he’s not really blind and Tracy gives him a five to look out for suspicious characters. It’s actually a nice moment of tension that doesn’t ultimately involve Dick Tracy at all as Sightless peeks in on the criminal’s meeting and leaves behind evidence only to be stalked by the Hook. Again, it was an interesting departure from the slightly more lighthearted previous installments, but it still followed the same basic formula. Still enjoyable enough that I’m looking forward to the final and likely most famous of these films as it is graced by silver screen legend Boris Karloff as Gruesome. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.