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All Classic Video
Oct 5, 2015
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All Classic Video - Dick Tracy Chapter 14: The Devil in White (1937) - Classic Serial
All Classic Video

Dick Tracy Chapter 14: The Devil in White (1937) - Classic Serial

Dick Tracy (1937) is a 15-Chapter Republic movie serial starring Ralph Byrd based on the Dick Tracy comic strip by Chester Gould. It was directed by Alan James and Ray Taylor.

Dick Tracy's foe for this serial is the crime boss and Masked Mystery Villain The Spider/The Lame One (both names are used) and his Spider Ring. In the process of various crimes, including using his Flying wing and sound weapon to destroy the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and stealing an experimental "Speed Plane", the Spider captures Dick Tracy's brother, Gordon. The Spider's minion, Dr. Moloch, performs a brain operation on Gordon Tracy to turn him evil, making him secretly part of the Spider Ring and so turning brother against brother.

Cast:
Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy
Kay Hughes as Gwen Andrews
Smiley Burnette as Mike McGurk
Lee Van Atta as Junior
Robert E. Marcato as Chief Patton
John Picorri as Dr Moloch
Richard Beach as Gordon Tracy (pre-operation in Chapter 1)
Carleton Young as Gordon Tracy (post-operation in Chapter 1)
Fred Hamilton as Steve Lockwood
Francis X. Bushman as Clive Anderson

Dick Tracy was budgeted at $112,334 although the final negative cost was $127,640 (a $15,306, or 13.6%, overspend). It was the most expensive Republic serial until S O S Coast Guard was released later in the year.[1]

It was filmed between 30 November and 24 December 1936 under the working titles Adventures of Dick Tracy and The Spider Ring. The serial's production number was 420.

In this serial, Dick Tracy is a G-Man (FBI) in San Francisco rather than a Midwestern city police detective as in the comic strip. Most of the Dick Tracy supporting cast and rogues gallery were also dropped and new, original characters used instead. Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould approved the script despite these changes.

There were three sequels to this serial. They were all permitted by an interpretation of the original contract, which allowed a "series or serial". That meant that, Dick Tracy creator, Chester Gould was only paid for the rights to produce this serial but not for any of the sequels.

Cline states that the Dick Tracy serials were "unexcelled in the action field," adding that "in any listing of serials released after 1930, the four Dick Tracy adventures from Republic must stand out as classics of the suspense detective thrillers, and the models for many others to follow." He goes on to write that Ralph Byrd "played the part [of Dick Tracy] to the hilt, giving his portrayal such unbridled, exuberant enthusiasm that the resulting excitement was contagious." Byrd become identified with the character following the release of this serial. The final chapter reunion between Dick and Gordon Tracy, as Gordon lies dying and his memory returns, is "one of the few moments of real emotional drama ever attempted in serials". This added to the human quality of Dick Tracy, which was present in both this serial and Chester Gould's original strip.
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