Plot: A series of brutal murders has the town on high alert, as people from all kinds of backgrounds are turning up dead. The killer seems to go for an extortion attempt to start with, but even if the payment is made, the victim is sliced up. As this crime spree ramps up, the police struggle to find any kind of leads, so Dick Tracy (Morgan Conway) is brought in to hunt down the maniac. His girlfriend Tess (Anne Jeffreys) is none too pleased about this, as she hasn’t much of Dick recently, but she knows he is a public servant first and foremost. As if there wasn’t enough pressure, now the mayor himself is under threat from this lunatic, so Dick really has to focus and crack the case. Will Dick be able to once again solve a case that no one else could and will Tess ever get her dinner, or will there always be a next murder case?
Entertainment Value: This outing for the legendary detective is no crime classic, but it is a brisk, well made tale with some nice film noir touches blended in. The story is fairly basic and isn’t likely to stretch your crime solving skills, but it does what it needs to do and has some passable twists and turns. I think Tess’ never ending desire for a dinner with her man is humorous, especially since she often finds herself drawn into the various crimes scenes. The tone is mostly serious, but keeps a sense of humor at times, outside of the main narrative. The villain is a capable one and the case is able to hold your interest, leading to a fun finale that raises the stakes a little, to give the movie a little more punch at the end. I also appreciate that a competent story is told in just over an hour, as there’s no filler and the pace is fast, but the movie doesn’t feel rushed or leave loose ends. So if you like old school detective stories or Dick Tracy in general, this one is a decent, if forgettable watch.
I found the performances in Dick Tracy to be in line with the rest of the movie, more than serviceable, but not memorable. Morgan Conway is fine in the titular role and brings a nice sense of humor to the role, keeping his approach on the lighter side, even in the criminal related arena. I don’t think he has quite the commanding presence I’d expect from the world famous detective, but he puts in decent work and plays off his various costars well. His back and forth with Anne Jeffreys as Tess is a highlight, as those scenes are quite fun. Jeffreys is a little annoying, but that is part and parcel with the role, as Tess can be a little much at times. She has more screen time than expected, given the small part in the narrative she has, so perhaps in a more scaled back presence it wouldn’t be as trying. The cast also includes Jane Greer, Mike Mazurki, Lyle Latell, and Morgan Wallace.