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Dick Tracy - 75th Anniversary Edition Original Serial

Ralph Byrd , Kay Hughes , Ray Taylor , Alan James  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Byrd, Kay Hughes, Smiley Burnette, Lee Van Atta, John Picorri
  • Directors: Ray Taylor, Alan James
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 6, 2012
  • Run Time: 290 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0091WYUYA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,606 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Based on the famous cartoon strip by Chester Gould, this was the initial entry of the Dick Tracy serials from Republic Pictures in 1937. In this super thriller, a clubfooted criminal known only as the "Lame One" masterminds a war on G-men. One of his villainous plans is to destroy the new Bay Bridge by bombarding it with high-frequency sound waves from his stratospheric aircraft, "The Wing". In the meantime, Dick Tracy s brother is kidnapped and forced to aid the notorious Lame One, who turns out to be...? This serial features 15 chapters of fistfights, car chases and aerial stunts, as only Republic Pictures could stage them. Bonus Features: New Special Video Introduction by Max Allan Collins (Writer of the Dick Tracy comic strip for 15 years after Chester Gould s retirement), Commentary by Max Allan Collins (plays only during Chapter 1 &2), Photo Gallery, "Dick Tracy in B-Flat" a special Armed Forces radio program broadcast in 1945, featuring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and many others, Rare Episode from the 1950 TV Series Product Specs: 2-DVD9s; Dolby Digital 2.0; English Language; English Subtitles; RT - 290 minutes; MPAA - NR; B&W; Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1 / 4x3; Year - 1937; SRP - $19.99

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great adaptation of the comic strip June 3, 2002
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
There are lots of familiar faces in this one, such as Smiley Brunette, Lee Van Atta, Carleton Young (who was Ellery Queen on radio), Francis X. Bushman. But part of the charm of this serial comes from the sprinkling of rather bizarre characters such as the clown, the demented scientist, the miner, and of course the principal bad guy, the Lame One.
Anyone who has seen FIGHTING DEVIL DOGS will notice lots of similarities and for this reason, I suggest getting DICK TRACY first. The other serial used a lot of footage from this one. The flying wing, the hunchback scientist, Carleton Young, the crushing ship chapter ending are all in the later serial.
Ralph Byrd is the definitive Dick Tracy. I didn't remember his being a G man, but the serial does predate my acquaintance with the comic strip.
All in all, this is definitely one of the better serials. As an earlier Republic serial, you won't see as much stunt action, choreographed fights and telegraphed chapter endings as in the later ones, but the elements are still there. This is one of the times I wish there was a 4 and a half star designation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dick Tracy October 19, 2004
Format:DVD
(...) the three films and a scant extras on CLASSIC DICK TRACY make it a tremendous value.
The films:
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome - Boris Karloff plays Gruesome, who robs banks and likes to incinerate his victims.
Dick Tracy vs. Cueball - Dick Wessel plays Cueball, who steals diamonds and likes to strangle his victims with a leather strap.
Dick Tracy's Dilemma - Jack Lambert plays The Claw, who steals furs and likes to hack his victims with the hook at the end of his right arm.
The extras: Short text biographies of Boris Karloff and Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould, a very short selected Karloff filmography, and a harmless page or two of Dick Tracy trivia.

"Gruesome" and "Dilemma" star Ralph Byrd as Tracy, a role his square jaw suggests he was born to play. Morgan Conway plays the super cop in "Cueball." Byrd played Tracy in an earlier serial, while Conway was the first to play him in a movie.
These short films were produced by RKO Radio Studios, which gave us some of the greatest psychological crime dramas in history. The production values, cinematography, and supporting cast are all above average for these quickly produced low budget films.
RKO gilded its reputation by presenting films that probed the twisted psychology or its heroes and villains. The beauty of formulaic entries like these Dick Tracy movies is that they avoid that approach entirely. The Bad Guy is wired to receive signals from nothing higher than his reptile brain. Gruesome, Cueball, and the Claw are simply evil, all greedy appetite with a well-honed fight-or-flight response. They have no depth at all. The short biography on Gould tells us that he wrote Tracy in reaction to the "glamorized" gangsters of the 1930s. He wanted to give the public a Good Guy to root for.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent restoration February 12, 2003
Format:DVD
All the movies (and serial) in this 3 DVD set have been digitally restored and it shows. The movies fare the best, with beautifully pristine prints free of scratches, reel changes and the usual other problems one encounters with films from this era. They really have been cleaned up superbly. The original 15 episode serial is also very clean, although the white levels are a little too high, but this is a fairly minor quibble. Only the Boris Karloff movie "Dick Tracy Versus Gruesome" is a little less clean than the others, exhibiting slightly more grain. But overall it's a very fine job. Audio is clear and free of hiss.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ralph Byrd IS Dick Tracy! June 20, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Ralph Byrd defined the role of America's favorite G-Man by playing Dick tracy in over 10 films and a television series. Dick Tracy (Republic, 1937) was his first foray into the role that became his. The Lame One, head of the Spider Ring is attempting to take over North America, but first he must get rid of Dick tracy. The Lame One has captured Gordon, Dick's brother and through a Brain surgery has made him his slave. The Lame One and Co. navigate the skies using the Flying Wing, a miniture version of the Stealth Bomber (later re-used in the Fighting Devil Dogs). Dick and his G-Men must foil the Spdier Ring's attempts throguh 15, 20 minute chapters of pulse pounding excitement
Solid Gold for a classic film lover!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Flying Wing Was Ahead Of Its Time May 10, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
DICK TRACY was a serial produced by Republic only six years after the popular comic strip hero made his first appearance in the Chicago Tribune- New York News Syndicate Newspapers. Throughout fifteen chapters the detective dueled with the Spider Gang whose leader was known as the Lame One. DICK TRACY was one of the better serials made during the 1930's.
Ralph Byrd had the role of Dick Tracy and the supporting cast included Kay Hughes, Smiley Burnette, Lee Van Atta and Francis X. Bushman. My favorite movie prop in this serial had to be the Flying Wing.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a good transfer of a classic serial November 29, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Dick Tracy" is a 15-chapter Republic serial, the first of four based on Chester Gould's comic strip with Ralph Byrd in the title role, released in February of 1937. The story was written by Morgan Cox and George Morgan, with screenplay by Barry Shipman and Winston Miller. Unlike the others it was directed by Ray Taylor and Alan James.

Republic's writers made a number of changes from the comic strip, with Dick Tracy as an FBI agent. In this serial he is on the trail of the Spider Ring, a gang led by a mysterious criminal known as "The Lame One." The FBI becomes involved due to a series of murders of disloyal associates of The Lame One, each marked with the image of a spider. The gang has also abducted Tracy's brother Gordon (Richard Beach), attorney for one of the murder victims. The Spider Ring's scientific aide, Moloch (John Piccori) performs an operation on Gordon's brain which erases his memory and renders him unable to tell good from evil, making him subject to The Lame One's will, and altering his appearance (to Carleton Young) so even his brother will be unable to recognise him.

This is my favorite of the four Dick Tracy serials for its darker atmosphere, weird villains and science-fiction elements, though it lacks the polish of the later Republic serials with their better-choreographed fist fights, pulse-pounding music and elaborate if sometimes far-fetched cliffhangers. While some of the dialogue is awkwardly written, the story is presented well, the acting is generally good and having Dick Tracy unaware that he is in conflict with his own brother provides a better mystery than the usual question of the chief villain's identity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Fulfills a childhood memory
As a kid in the early 50's I used to see DICK TRACY shown on TV, but it came on at 11 pm where I lived. Read more
Published 12 months ago by D. Iwataki
2.0 out of 5 stars too dark and gloomy. like the lighter cliffhanger serials better.
from what i have seen of a couple of the cliffhanger serials, their lighter, straightforward crime solving is good. get those. Read more
Published 14 months ago by choirboyme
3.0 out of 5 stars Ralph Byrd fans take note
This dvd features four episodes from the 1950s TV show of "Dick Tracy." This was a very low budget show and you can tell. Read more
Published on November 27, 2007 by William G. Piper
4.0 out of 5 stars The Flying Wing Was Ahead Of Its Time
DICK TRACY was a serial produced by Republic only six years after the popular comic strip hero made his first appearance in the Chicago Tribune- New York News Syndicate Newspapers. Read more
Published on May 10, 2003 by Peter Kenney
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother
The collection of Dick Tracy movies offered by the Roan Group is much better, and the Roan DVDs offer all of the movies on two discs. This set is not worth spending your money on. Read more
Published on December 24, 2002 by The Encyclopedia Tromatica
5.0 out of 5 stars Dick Tracy Bonanza
In 1945, the world beheld Dick Tracy, a popular comic strip, materialize to screen. The first film (which is not in this collection), was entertaining, but lacked the excitment,... Read more
Published on November 12, 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Dick Tracy Bonanza
In 1945, the world beheld Dick Tracy, a popular comic strip, materialize to screen. The first film (which is not in this collection), was entertaining, but lacked the excitment,... Read more
Published on November 12, 2001
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