blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Dick Tracy (1937, Ray Taylor and Alan James), Chapter 6: Dangerous Waters

Dangerous Waters opens with an unbelievable cliffhanger resolve. Not unbelievably good, unbelievably cheap. I can’t imagine what made me think they wouldn’t go unbelievably cheap. I was clearly giving Dick Tracy too much credit.

After the resolve, the chapter’s back to “formula.” It’s even about a missing scientific formula. Thanks to Kay Hughes reading the newspaper, Ralph Byrd’s able to predict the Spider Gang going after a scientist. So the whole Tracy crew–including nitwit Smiley Burnette, annoying kid Lee Van Atta, and “does all the real work” Fred Hamilton–pile into a car and drive down to the science building.

But they’re too late.

So it’s off to a waterfront bar to try to stop Carleton Young–who seems to know he’s in a bad situation participating in this serial–from selling the formula to a foreign agent.

There’s a lengthy, boring fistfight. It’s kind of funny when Byrd throws something at one of his opponents. Like a shoe. It seems ad-libbed. More ad-libbing might’ve helped.

Byrd and Burnette assault a bunch of guys eating lunch–they never identify themselves as law enforcement and have no probable cause. It is before Miranda, I suppose.

Not a good chapter. Not a lot of godawful acting–though Hughes’s so amateurishly bad she’s sympathetic–and John Picorri’s cat makes another appearance, but it’s still pretty weak stuff.


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).


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