Dick Tracy’s G-Men (1939)

Article #1448 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-2-2005
Posting Date: 7-30-2005
Directed by John English and William Witney
Featuring Ralph Byrd, Irving Pichel, Ted Pearson

Dick Tracy matches wits with a spy named Dr. Zarnoff.

Fantastic content: The opening episode involves a drug that causes the breathing to stop, which helps the criminal survive the gas chamber. There’s also a remote control boat steerer in one of the other episodes.

This is the third of the four Dick Tracy serials. It’s actually pretty good. Irving Pichel makes an interesting villain, the serial avoids most of the hackneyed cliffhangers, and there’s a little curiosity value in seeing Jennifer Jones before she hit it big. Still, I find it hard to get excited about this one. This may be due, of course, to the fact that it followed up DAREDEVILS OF THE RED CIRCLE, and there aren’t many other serials that would look good next to that one.

One question, though; why is it that when the villain of a serial uses the old automatic smokescreen trick during a car chase, the hero never has the presence of mind to slow down so his vision isn’t impaired and just follow the trail of smoke from a distance? Instead, they always seem to go at full speed and end up getting into a car accident. The answer is simple; in serials, car crashes are more important than common sense.

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