blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Dick Tracy (1937, Ray Taylor and Alan James), Chapter 3: The Fur Pirates

With The Fur Pirates, Dick Tracy starts to show some problems; outside the obvious acting ones considering the supporting cast. There’s another fast cliffhanger resolve, with the disaster not being anywhere near as dangerous as originally suggested. After that resolution, there’s some decent special effects–miniature–of the bad guy’s Wing aircraft taking off.

Then the chapter hits the skids. With no investigative leads, Ralph Byrd heads home to hang out with the supporting cast. Smiley Burnette is once again terrible, Kay Hughes is once again underwhelming, Lee Van Atta is once again cloying. Oh, there’s some stuff with the villains, but the most amusing part of a serial chapter shouldn’t be John Picorri’s cat wanting to be let down.

Just like last time, someone gives Byrd a tip he dismisses. Just like last time, it turns out to be important. There’s a ship in the harbor and it’s got a million dollars worth of furs on it. What if someone rips them off?

Better, what if it turns out the Spider Gang is going to rip them off.

There’s some action at the end and it’s not badly conceived, just executed. There’s no way to do a small boat crushed between two big ships with stock footage and second unit stuff. Not without miniatures.

With no solid action in the cliffhanger lead-up, Pirates doesn’t have anything to keep it going. The story isn’t compelling and, while he’s more affable than anyone else, it’s not like Byrd can keep the energy up.

Hopefully something happens next chapter. It’s early for the serial to be in a formulaic rut.


Directed by Ray Taylor and Alan James; screenplay by Barry Shipman and Winston Miller, based on a story by Morgan Cox and George Morgan and the comic strip by Chester Gould; directors of photography, Edgar Lyons and William Nobles; edited by Edward Todd, Helene Turner, and William Witney; produced by Nat Levine; released by Republic Pictures.

Starring Ralph Byrd (Dick Tracy), Kay Hughes (Gwen Andrews), Smiley Burnette (Mike McGurk), Lee Van Atta (Junior), John Picorri (Moloch), Carleton Young (Gordon), Fred Hamilton (Steve Lockwood), Francis X. Bushman (Chief Clive Anderson), Wedgwood Nowell (H.T. Clayton), Louis Morrell (Walter Potter), Edwin Stanley (Walter Odette), Ann Ainslee (Betty Clayton), and Milburn Morante (Death Valley Johnny).


Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: