Dick Tracy (1937, Ray Taylor and Alan James), Chapter 5: Brother Against Brother

There’s no great action in Brother Against Brother. There’s what might be a real cliffhanger–Ralph Byrd shot (figure it’s safe to spoil since Byrd’s the lead and it’s chapter five of fifteen). I guess there’s some good effects at the beginning with some of the plane stuff. It doesn’t figure in much to the rest of the chapter, which has Byrd planting a necklace in a plane crash hoping to infiltrate the Spider Gang’s “hangout.”

Byrd and Dick Tracy are down with the hip lingo.

Meanwhile, most of the supporting cast is looking to rescue Byrd. Fred Hamilton has Lee Van Atta, who’s getting more annoying the more he has to do, while Kay Hughes is babysitting Smiley Burnette. The scenes with Hughes and Burnette are really, really rough. She’s amateurishly bad and he’s truly godawful.

Speaking of godawful, on the way to the Spider Gang’s hangout–a big house the dialogue explains to be a closed motel, which doesn’t track given the interiors or exteriors of the pad, but whatever–on the way Byrd hopes in the back of a passing jalopy. Who should be driving but Ed ‘Oscar’ Platt and Lou Fulton; they’re apparently the hillbilly comedy duo, “Oscar and Elmer.”

They’re godawful too.

Luckily they don’t have any scenes with Burnette.

The finale is a shootout around the house, with stuntmen climbing around the exterior. Editors Edward Todd, Helene Turner, and William Witney don’t do well with shootouts. All the good cutting (from the effects sequences) is missing.

It’s not a predictable chapter. It’s not an exciting chapter. But at least it’s not a repetitive one.

CREDITS

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.

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).


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