Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Total Dick - Dick Tracy Returns!
The first Dick Tracy serial from 1937 was a big hit, so it was only logical that Republic do it again with Dick Tracy Returns in 1938. Ralph Byrd returns in the title role, but he's the only one who does show back up from the first series. This time the science fiction elements of the original serial are eschewed in favor of a more back-to-basics crime spree committed by a gang which is also a family.
Pa Stark (played by Charles Middleton, of Ming the Merciless fame) and his five boys (Champ, Trigger, Dude, Slasher, and Kid) are the enemies of the moment as they cut across the landscape committing a range of robberies and crimes of all sorts. Dick Tracy and his G-Men chase after them helped and hindered at times by Junior (Jerry Tucker), the youngster who Tracy has taken under his wing and who throughout this serial wears an ill-fitting boys school uniform. Sadly the Kid is a more of a pain than a help, but he's less annoying than was Smiley Burnette in the first serial though less effective than was James Van Atta who first played the role.
This is pretty decent serial, but the sameness of the crimes and the confrontations does make hit a bit repetitious by the final chapter which to no one surprise will end in the utter destruction of the Pa Stark gang.
Another Dick Tracy serial tomorrow.