Friday, August 16, 2013

DICK TRACY: A Review of 1936

When we last left off, Dick Tracy and G-Man Jim Trailer tracked the whereabouts of “Cut” Moran and his boys, the sole survivors of a police raid at “Maw” Moran’s residence where an exchange of gunfire mimicked the Ma Barker and her boys newspaper headlines. Moran and his men fled town and took refuge in an abandoned silo on a farm. Jim held the gangster’ attention by firing at the silo from the road while Dick Tracy circled around back of the buildings near the silo. After releasing the brake on a truck, the four-wheel vehicle dashed down the hillside and into the silo, sending Moran and his men scurrying like rats.

Using dynamite, Moran and his men trap the law officers in a room clogged with bricks at the entranceway. The men dig their way out of the debris of the silo, follow the trail in the snow, and Tracy masquerades as Boyle, one of Moran’s men, using makeup and a life mask of the criminal, in order to infiltrate their new hideout. (Tracy even takes a shot of drugs in the arm to prove he’s on the up-and-up.) A police ambush of an attempted payroll robbery causes Tracy to get wounded and the gang discovers who Boyle really is underneath all the makeup. Along a country road, the G-Men hide in an empty oil truck and hold tommy guns on Moran and his men. Everyone but Moran is shot and killed. Moran is taken into custody and the G-Men find the wounded body of Dick Tracy, bleeding to death.

Moran attempts to flee and the police open fire, gunning down the criminal who “deserved the same medicine.” To save Tracy from death, Pat Patton donates his blood for a transfusion. Toby, meanwhile, who was blinded a few months back, regains her sight, courtesy of eye treatments. Tracy wakes in the hospital, weak but alive. To ensure he has a full recovery, Tess Trueheart works with Chief Brandon to ensure Tracy goes on a month’s vacation to Florida. The vacation is short lived when a murder in town intrigues Tracy and the detective is back in action.

The trail involves the arrest of “Lips” Manlis in the revolving door of the hotel. Junior, disguised as a bellhop, discovers how murders are committed in the hotel but no bullets are found. The bullets are made of ice! The murderer is revealed to be Athnel Jones. “Lips” Manlis is released from police custody, after proving he did not commit the murders. To prove he is going straight, Lips is hired as a night watchman at a warehouse. When the old gang, led my the notorious Mimi, wants Lips to help them heist the merchandise in the warehouse and enforce a protection racket, he will not participate. After the warehouse is set fire, Lips is accused of the crime but Tracy insists a criminal like Lips can be and is innocent. When the gang attempts another heist of another warehouse, Lips, who pretended to be a member, helps the police nab the culprits.

(During the story arc described above, one criminal shows others how a coating of liquid cellophane on the fingers can prevent fingerprints.)

Mimi flees the waterfront dock and swims to a yacht owned by Toyee, who will not agree to hide her from the approaching police. After pushing Mimi overboard, Toyee welcomes Dick Tracy and Pat Patton, who arrive only to be knocked unconscious from behind, tied and bound. The detectives are thrown overboard as a storm approaches and Tracy does his best to keep an unconscious Pat Patton alive while waves continue to crash on them. The police arrive and save the detectives just in time. Lips, learning what happened, offers to help Dick Tracy find Toyee and Mimi, in a waterfront hideout, and Mimi tries to shoot the approaching law men.

Toyee attempts to hide inside a huge sturgeon, only to plunge to his death when Tracy and Patton take shots at the fish, hanging overboard the cargo vessel. Tracy dives under water to fetch the body of Toyee, and verifies the Chinaman is truly dead. Back at the waterfront dive, Mimi makes a daring play and stabs Pat Patton. Tracy rushes his comrade to the hospital. Back in town, Mimi and her gang catches Lips Manlis and kidnaps him, hoping to seek revenge against his betrayal. Under Mimi’s spell, Lips is married to the femme fatale and chooses a life of crime. Visiting Mimi in her flat, Dick Tracy and Kitty, an informant, confront the criminals and are tricked into a secret room underneath a trap door.

Lips, however, only pretended to play criminal, knowing the secret room beneath the floor will protect the detective while he apprehends the criminals. Mimi, distraught for the betrayal, takes a vial of poison.

 When Junior becomes a victim of a hit and run, Dick Tracy follows the trail to John L. Fling, a respectable young man of society. During the arrest, Tracy and Pat discover an unusual purple cross tattooed on Fling’s tongue. This begins the next adventure, the mystery of the Purple Cross Gang. When a second member of the gang is arrested in the nearby town of Nederville, Tracy visits the police station to question the man behind bars, only to discover the masked gang is daring enough to march right into the police station, armed with guns, to free any member of their gang that made the mistake of being caught.

 Pat Patton agrees to allow Dick Tracy to masquerade as John L. Fling, using clever makeup and purple cellophane to simulate a purple cross on his tongue. The ruse doesn’t work, Pat Patton is knocked from behind too hard, and a masked member of the gang attempts to kill Pat while he’s recovering in the hospital. Meanwhile, the mastermind behind the gang establishes a multi-city bank robbery spree that will rival anything any gangster has ever committed in the anals of crime. One of the members of the gang, “Baldy” Stark, has a weak spot which Dick Tracy discovers. Apparently the criminal has a young daughter and supplies all the clothing, food and other necessities a young child of four is unable to get during the depression. Tracy decides to follow the trail…

Will the little girl lead him to the master criminal? Will he be able to apprehend the Purple Cross Gang? We’ll find out in 1937!

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