Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946)
Film review #391
Director: Gordon M. Douglas
SYNOPSIS: Police detective Dick Tracy is called to a murder scene on board a ship where a jeweller has been strangled and a valuable set of diamonds has been stolen. As he continues to investigate, he uncovers a conspiracy involving multiple people to sell the diamonds, and must apprehend the man known as Cueball, who is killing off the people involved…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Dick Tracy vs. Cueball is a 1946 crime-noir film and the second Dick Tracy feature film. As the film opens, we see a boat docking into port when a thief breaks into a jeweller’s cabin, killing him and stealing the diamonds. Dick Tracy is called out to investigate the murder, and suspects a much larger conspiracy to re-cut and sell the diamonds. The story follows the investigation through all its twists and turns, and it is a story that is easy enough to follow while having enough interesting developments to keep one’s interest. At just over sixty minutes, it is not a long film, but it still feels full of content along with offering a complete experience. There’s not too much else to say different than what I wrote for the review for the previous film: its’s more of the same, mixing comic book characters with the crime-noir setting resulting in an easy to follow story, but an entertaining one at the least. Unlike its predecessor though, this one feels a little more down to earth, without the odd mystical elements that didn’t quite belong or go anywhere.
The protagonists from the first film all return, and as there, each of them feel a little like the comic book characters they are based on. The various suspects too have their own particular appearances and personalities, and it’s fun watching them all interact with each other. Everybody has something going on or a role to play, and no one feels wasted. The main antagonist, Cueball, definitely feels very menacing, and a genuine threat throughout, made even more menacing by the use of lighting throughout in typical crime-noir fashion. Tracy’s assistant Pat Patton provides a bit of comic relief, along with the young Junior, and Tracy’s girlfriend Tess Trueheart also gets a role to play in the investigation. Overall, Dick Tracy vs. Cueball is very similar to its predecessor released in the previous year, but also manages to make some improvements by tightening the story, making it flow better, and making the villains more menacing. It’s not an exemplary example of the crime-noir genre, but it’s a good combination of it with the comic strip characters and personalities that gives it a bit of a unique flair. If you enjoyed the first one, you will certainly enjoy this one too.