After the Dick Tracy serials of the late 30’s and early 40’s, Dick Tracy was brought back to his city detective roots in four films produced by RKO Radio Pictures between 1945 and 1947.  Each film focused a Dick Tracy case not found in the daily comic strip.  The first two movies starred Morgan Conway while the latter two brought back Ralph Byrd who had starred in the earlier serials.  Byrd would go on to star in a Dick Tracy television show in the early 1950′s after which Tracy would vanish from live action film until Warren Beatty’s 1990 movie, Dick Tracy.


Dick Tracy Detective (1945 Movie)

    Based on Chester Gould’s comic strip, Dick Tracy, Detective was the first feature film starring the relentless detective played by Morgan Conway. In this film Dick Tracy tries to solve a series of brutal murders of unrelated victims by the notorious Splitface. Suspects multiply and Tracy works to find the common link before more are killed.


    Dick Tracy, Detective and the three sequel movies would all be associated with film noir, that is dramatic, shadowy photographic compositions and exterior scenes filmed at night.  Lyle Latell would co-star as Pat Patton and Anne Jeffreys as Tess Trueheart.  Mike Mazurki played the roll of Splitface.



Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946 Movie)

Dick Tracy Returns
    In a sequel to the 1945 film also starring Morgan Conway, valuable diamonds are stolen but the thief is soon strangled by ex-conman and strangler named Cueball.  Once in posession of the diamonds Cueball continues to murder people he suspects are trying to double-cross him.  Dick Tracy and Tess Trueheart work together to try to catch this dangerous killer.


   Lyle Latell co-starred as Pat Patton, Anne Jeffreys as Tess Trueheart and Dick Wessel as Cueball.



Dick Tracy’s Dilemma (1947 Movie)

Dick Tracy serial star returned to play the famous detective in the third film of the Dick Tracy quadrilogy.  Investigating the theft of a fortune of fur coats, an insurance swindle and several murders, Tracy soon finds out a huge thug with a hook for a right hand is responsible for them all.   Dick Tracy faces “The Claw.”


Lyle Latell continued his co-starring role as Pat Patton and Kay Christopher would play the roll of Tess Trueheart.



Dick Tracy meets Gruesome (1947 Movie)

    In the last Dick Tracy feature film until 1990, a criminal gang discover and use a nerve gas that makes people appear dead.  Led by Gruesome, a corpse like british gangster, the gang commit a number of crimes including a bank robbery with Dick Tracy hot on their tail.  Once again Ralph Byrd stars as Dick Tracy and horror actor Boris Karloff of Frakenstein fame played Gruesome.



Dick Tracy (1990 Movie)

Spearheaded by Warren Beatty and released in 1990, this Dick Tracy movie was based off Gould’s comic strips.  As one of the best detectives in the city, Dick Tracy is on the hunt for the biggest crime boss in town, Big Boy Caprice. Big Boy has recently killed the former big boss Lips Manless and is now rallying all the cities criminals into a one all powerful syndicate with Tracy their only threat. However, Tracy has more issues than just Big Boy on his mind. He wants to move forward with his girlfriend Tess Trueheart and has just taken a nameless orphan in under his wing. To make matters worse a deductive club dancer, Breathless Mahoney keeps popping up at in-appropriate times and a mysterious gangster named “The Blank” keeps things interesting.


Many years in development, Disney released Dick Tracy on June 15, 1990 earning $22.54 million the opening weekend, the third highest opening weekend of 1990. Dick Tracy eventually grossed $103.74 million and $162.74 million world wide making it the ninth highest grossing movie in America and 12th worldwide.


Dick Tracy went on to win Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup and Best Original Song (“Sooner or Later”).  For more information on the 1990 movie see the Wikipedia or IMDB pages.

2 Responses to Movies

  1. Jim Doherty says:

    Mike Curtis put me on to your site. Great stuff. Lovingly put together.

    I am the police technical advisor for the strip, and write the “Crimestopper” and “Hall of Fame” panels for the Sundays. I’ve also written some prose Tracy stories.

    If I can be of assistance in your site, let me know.

  2. Pingback: Who is Gruesome? - Dick Tracy Depot

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