Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. is the last of the four Dick Tracy Republic Pictures serials. In his final serial adventure, G-Man Dick Tracy, still headlined by Ralph Byrd, battles a shadowy underworld organization led by “the Ghost”, a villain who can turn himself invisible. In the initial chapter the Ghost targets New York city and Tracy must race to save it from a huge tidal wave. Later chapters are not nearly ambitious but keep us captivated as the Ghost targets members of a business group called the Council of Eight who are responsible for the death of his brother, Rackets Reegan. The cliffhangers of this final film are inventive and Tracy’s quest to uncover the Ghost’s secret identity keep us hooked and wanting to watch each chapter. Unlike all previous Tracy serials, no recap chapter is used in Crime Inc, but a couple high action scenes have been pilfered from earlier serials.
The cast has once again been paired back, Gwen Andrews and Steve Lockwood are now gone and Tracy’s new partner is Billy Carr, played by Michael Owen. June Chandler, the daughter of a council member has taken the Gwen Andrews role of assistant and is performed by Jan Wiley. The criminals are headlined by the masked Ghost (no credit given) and his lieutenant, Lucifer (John Davidson). In previous serials, the criminal lieutenants took part in most of the action, here the Ghost and his invisibility device are in action in nearly every episode while Lucifer waits in the car.
This serial was re-released as a film in 1952 titled Dick Tracy vs. Phantom Empire. Before then, four new full length Dick Tracy movies (two starring Ralph Byrd) were produced by RKO Radio Pictures between 1945 and 1947 and a Dick Tracy television show also starring Ralph Byrd launched in 1950.
Chapters (click Images to watch the chapter)
A criminal mastermind named The Ghost uses an invisibility device to kill Stephen Chandler, the third death belonging to the Secret Council that runs much of America. The Ghost then kidnaps a Geologist named Martin who reveals how to inundate New York city in a powerful tidal wave. Tracy is able to rescue Martin and prevents New York’s destruction by crashing his plane into the tidal wave bomber flown by henchman Lucifer.
Saving New York city, Tracy and Billy Carr find Lucifer unconscious when they swim to shore and hold him in jail. The Ghost sends a fake doctor to examine Lucifer in the cell, handing off his invisibility device which the henchman uses to escape. Tracy chases the getaway vehicle but his vehicle slides off the road when oil sprays out the back of the getaway car.
After Lucifier’s escape, Tracy meets with the Council of Eight and learns one member plans an important machinery shipment. Tracy protects this shipment from destruction by the Ghost’s men aboard and train, and then later while a boat travels through a canal. Both the train sequence and canal sequence used footage from Dick Tracy Returns, chapter 3 and 13 respectively. Interestingly enough, this chapter and both those chapters have the word “Doom” used in their titles.
Tracy discovers a clue suggesting a man at Trent’s steel mill is working for the Ghost and goes undercover in the mill. He is quickly uncovered by the man and after a fist fight Tracy loses his suspect. The Ghost visits Council member Trent’s home and forces him to give up his precision machinery plans, shooting Trent and rigging Trent’s trapped vault to drop Tracy into a deadly pit.
Tracy narrowly escapes death down the trap door in Trent’s home, but the council member is dead. They then begin tracking a foreign agent named Arno Draga who they suspect will meet with the Ghost. Tracy and Wilson interrupt that meeting and the Ghost’s men shoot Draga and battle the G-Men. The Ghost cuts a rope holding a cargo box over Dick’s head as they escape.
The Ghost escapes G-Men aboard an old schooner and agent Wilson chases after him and is shot after seeing the Ghost. Tracy informs the remaining four members of the council and Wilson is taken by the Ghost’s men. The men are killed in a car chase, but so is Wilson and Dick and Billy run across a field as they are bombed by Lucifer in a plane.
Tracy and Billy take shelter in a cellar to avoid bombs dropped by Lucifer’s plane before returning to base where a council meeting takes place. Two members, Morton and Cabot are bringing in a gold shipment, which the Ghost plans to steal. The Ghost kills a commander to delay the shipment and his men try to break into a vault before Dick stops them and battles the hoods on a boat with a gun happy coast guard cutter behind them.
Tracy wants to test council member Cabot for connections to the Ghost and tells him he plans to transport a gold shipment by armored car instead of train. The sting works and the Ghost steals the car and hands it off to his men with Tracy hidden in the back. At an abandoned farm the G-Men battle the men and kill them but Tracy and Billy must grab a plane and race to save the train from the Ghost. Tracy parachutes down on to the track as the train bears down on him.
Tracy saves a gold shipment from train derailment and then avoids assassination at the Ambassador Hotel after he is called for a meeting with council member Cabot. Tracy suspects Cabot may be the Ghost after a council Civic Service badge is left, but Cabot is killed in his home by the Ghost who then waits to behead Dick with an axe.
Tracy avoids beheading by the Ghost who escapes after killing council member Cabot and suspects one of the last three members is the Ghost. He lures the Ghost with a false diary clue but the elusive criminal escapes again but June Chandler has recorded the sound from the Ghost’s invisibility device. The Ghost has her lab set ablaze to destroy the sound recording and Tracy must go into the inferno to save her and the recording.
Tracy saves June Chandler from an inferno but a record of the Ghost’s invisibility device is destroyed. Tracy gets a call from council member Brewster who’s testing a new aerial torpedo but the line goes dead and Tracy must rescue Brewster and destroy the torpedo so the Ghost’s men don’t steal it.
Council member Brewster destroys a top-secret aerial torpedo but he has a model hidden in the safe of his plant which the Ghost wants and Tracy tries to protect. During an initial fight, a car chase and a return fight at the factory the Ghost gets the combination to the safe vault and Tracy is knocked out and rides a conveyor belt into a smelting furnace.
An unconscious Tracy is saved by Bill Carr at an experimental factory but council member is shot by the Ghost who escapes with an aerial torpedo model. The model is destroyed to ditch Tracy’s pursuit. Tracy calls a meeting of the final two members of the council, Weldon and Morton to determine which man is the Ghost. The Ghost goes invisible to give instructions to his men but becomes visible and he and Tracy fight on top of the rooftop and Tracy is thrown from the roof.
Tracy has secluded remaining council members Morton and Weldon to their rooms, one of whom is the Ghost but he is forced to let them both go and the Ghost sends Cory to kill a hospitalized Brewster, who can identify him. Corey succeeds but Dick and Bill tail Cory back to their hideout and in the chase afterwards Tracy rams his car into a plane Cory tries to escape in.
Tracy figures out how to make the Ghost visible using an infrared light and calls a final council meeting with Tracy posing as an injured man (Corey) who can identify the Ghost. At the meeting we finally learn the Ghost is in fact Morton and he battles Tracy before running for it. As he escapes over some power lines he is electrocuted and the feedback also kills Lucifer with the invisibility machine.