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Dick Tracy's G-Men (1939)

Ralph Byrd , Phylis Isley (Jennifer Jones) , William Witney , John English  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Byrd, Phylis Isley (Jennifer Jones), Irving Pichel, Ted Pearson, Walter Miller
  • Directors: William Witney, John English
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: 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: July 29, 2008
  • Run Time: 263 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001B0H7CW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,203 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dick Tracy's G-Men" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Nicholas Zarnoff, master spy and the most hated man on Earth, is sentenced to die in the gas chamber. By using a secret drug, which does not permit the gas to enter his lungs, Zarnoff cheats death and escapes. Dick Tracy, the government's ace investigator, is assigned the task of tracking down Zarnoff and bringing him to justice. For 15 episodes Dick Tracy and Zarnoff battle it out on land, on sea and in the air. Jennifer Jones, seen at the outset of her distinguished career, plays Gwen, Dick Tracy's loyal secretary.

Bonus Features: Chapter Selection, Trailers, Intro by Max Allan Collins, Adlets Specs: 1-DVD9 & 1-DVD5; Dolby Digital; B&W; Year - 1939

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST OF THE TRACY TETRALOGY March 4, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is the best of the four TRACY serials Republic released between 1937 and 1941. Though we weren't in it yet, WW2 impinges on the series as our hero (still a West Coast FBI agent rather than the Midwestern local police detective he was in the comics) is pitted against Nicolas Zarnoff (Irving Pichel in a great performance), a spy/saboteur in the pay of the Axis (though, in those days of American neutrality, his employers could only be referred to as "The Three Powers") who rather resembles Boris Arson, a villain from the newspaper strip that inspired the film. Great action. Great story. Great direction from English and Witney. An appearance by future star Jennifer Jones (her last appearance under her birth name, Phyllis Isley; in her very next film, THE SONG OF BERNADETTE, she'd win an Oscar for her performance as the titular saint who saw a vision of the Blessed Mother at Lourdes) as Tracy's secretary Gwen. Plus the annoying Junior and comic relief character "Mike McGurk," from the first two serials in the series, are blessedly absent. The framing device with which the first chapter begins, a newsreel giving expository informationabout the villain, was seen by Orson Welles might have seen this film, who went on to use a similar story-telling device in his 1941 masterpiece CITIZEN KANE. An introduction by former TRACY scribe Max Allan Collins serves to put the film in historical context. One of the best serials ever in a great package.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VCI Entertainment and Republic Pictures present based on Chester Gould's comic strip creation -- "Dick Tracy's G-Men" (2 September 1939) (263 mins/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Ralph Byrd was an American actor famous for playing the comic strip character Dick Tracy on screen, in serials, movies and television --- Byrd was a good, all-purpose actor with a gift for delivering dialogue in a natural, ingratiating way --- Once established in Republic Pictures' Dick Tracy serials (beginning in 1937), he was usually cast in action features (as a truck driver, lumberjack, cowboy, etc.), despite not having the usual brawny frame that went with these roles --- He had a strong, resolute jaw, however, which gave him a heroic presence.

Republic cast Byrd as Chester Gould's comic-strip detective Dick Tracy in the 1937 serial of the same name. The film was so successful that it spawned three sequels (unheard of in serials): Dick Tracy Returns, Dick Tracy's G-Men (featuring a young Jennifer Jones, under her real name of Phylis Isley), and Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. (reissued in 1952 as Dick Tracy vs. Phantom Empire).

RKO Radio Pictures made a feature film, Dick Tracy, in 1945, but not with Ralph Byrd (see the Wikipedia entry for Morgan Conway). After two films, exhibitors complained. To them, Ralph Byrd was Dick Tracy, and only Ralph Byrd would do. RKO accepted this and hired Byrd to finish the series. Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (with Boris Karloff as Gruesome) were both released in 1947.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of action, and a good DVD transfer January 26, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Dick Tracy's G-Men" is a 15-chapter Republic serial from 1939 starring Ralph Byrd, directed by William Witney and John English, the third of the four Dick Tracy serials. In all of these Tracy is an FBI agent, rather than the police detective of the comic strip. This time, an international spy, Nicholas Zarnoff (Irving Pichel) is about to be executed, having been caught by Tracy. But Zarnoff isn't quite finished; he cheats the gas chamber, simulating death using a rare drug, and is soon back working with "The Three Powers" to disrupt world peace.

Tracy's main helper agent is Steve Lockwood (Ted Pearson), while Zarnoff gets able assistance from Robal, played by Walter Miller in his last serial movie role. Each of Zarnoff's many schemes is thwarted in a chapter or two, a pattern familiar from the other Dick Tracy serials. While all four of these are good, both this and the last Tracy serial have increased emphasis on action at the expense of emotional depth and dialogue. The dropping of Junior and Mike McGurk from this serial is regarded by some as an advantage, but they provided a little interaction among the good guys. This time, Tracy's secretary, Gwen (Phyllis Isley, later known as Jennifer Jones) is never seen outside the office, and her few spoken lines are mostly answering telephone or radio messages. But Irving Pichel is splendid as Zarnoff, the action scenes are choreographed well, often with interesting settings, and the music by William Lava provides good support, if not quite at the pulse-pounding level of Republic's scores from the 1940's. There must have been a budget cut from the first serial; the villain doesn't have a Flying Wing, and the G-men, instead of a Duesenberg, are reduced to driving Plymouths.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tracy's Best January 11, 2006
Format:VHS Tape
The Dick Tracy series became the longest running serial in history, at 60 chapters, and this third installment is the best of the bunch. As is usual with a serial directed by William Witney and John English, the cliffhangers put to shame most of what Universal and Columbia had to offer. They're great at going on location for the action, like lumber yards, power plants, dams, smelter plants, and other exotic locales that offer the possibility of an unusual cliffhanger situation with fiendish deathtraps. I particularly like the cliffhanger in an early chapter where a ship is slowly docking next to a barge. Witney has a barrel get tossed harmlessly in the water, but we see it get crushed between the vessels with a loud crunching pop. Then Tracy gets knocked into the same spot, unconscious, as the vessels again move slowly together. Point well made!

Thankfully, both Tracy's goofy sidekick Mike McGurk and his little pal Junior are gone. He still has his associate Steve Lockwood, now played by Ted Pearson, and Tracy's third secretary in as many serials, Phylis Isley. She had married Robert Walker earlier that year, before he became famous ("Strangers on a Train," etc.). One viewer reported that she has exactly 204 words in this film, mostly relaying telephone messages. Three years later Isley was "discovered" by David O. Selznick (whom she later married), starred in "Song of Bernadette," and won an Academy Award for best actress. By this time she was Jennifer Jones.

Irving Pichel makes as outstanding villain, the master spy Zarnoff. Pichel had been in big-budget movies prior to doing this serial, but he was to make his mark primarily as a director.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Zarnoff escapes~ VG Dick Tracy Serial~
PLOT: SUPER criminal Zarnoff escapes death.....

Zarnoff is due to die by the gas chamber when a rare drug is sent in a Newspaper so he can hold his breath and be... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Molly
4.0 out of 5 stars a decent serial. this is the second of the two of the Tracy serials...
a decent crime serial with Tracy making sharp interpretations of clues. the detective angle makes it little bit more complex than a regular serial. Read more
Published 16 months ago by choirboyme
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thrills of yesteryear
This is just one of the many Republic serials from the 'little studio" of the same name which produced some of the BEST action serials and B-westerns and overall terrific films in... Read more
Published on April 6, 2012 by J. A. Davenport
4.0 out of 5 stars I love Jennifer Jones, whatever name she goes by...
Jennifer Jones as Gwen really helped make ths one for me. She conveyed a very pleasant reality and was very definitely more noticeable than the other actresses who portrayed... Read more
Published on April 20, 2009 by Neal Reynolds
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Addition to the Series but Falls Short of Previous Two Serials
I really enjoy the Dick Tracy serials. The first two Dick Tracy and Dick Tracy Returns were pretty good. But unfortunately, this one does not hold a candle to the first two. Read more
Published on October 7, 2008 by Alex Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars "The King of Serials...VCI Entertainment ~ Dick Tracy's G-Men (1939)"
VCI Entertainment and Republic Pictures present based on Chester Gould's comic strip creation..."Dick Tracy's G-Men" (1939) (Dolby digitally remastered), with 15 Chapters of... Read more
Published on October 18, 2005 by J. Lovins
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