Dick Tracy, Chapter 1 : The Spider Strikes
Released February 20, 1937
Dick Tracy is entertaining even by today’s standards, though Ralph Byrd’s Dick Tracy has more super-hero characteristics than does his comic strip counterpart. This 15-chapter serial was broken down into six or seven discernible adventures that fit together with more than a minimal continuity.
The Gouldian grotesque villain was center stage here as in the newspaper stories. In this first Tracy serial, the grotesque is a mysterious figure of the shadows called “the Spider” and also “the Lame One.” However, there were liberties taken with Chester Gould’s traditions. Instead of Tess Trueheart, the weekly installments featured Kay Hughes as Gwen. The chemistry between Tracy and his female foil was lost.
Interestingly enough, in this serial Republic gave Dick Tracy a brother named Gordon who falls victim to the Lame One and Moloch—the Mad scientist assistant of the Lame One who has operated on Gordon’s brain to inspire him to do dastardly things like murder. All in all, this 1937 Republic work was, and remains, quite enthralling for adventure fans and those impassioned by the cliffhangers of the silver screen so popular in the 1930s and 1940s.
In honor of the Dick Tracy comic strip’s 80th anniversary, we proudly present for your viewing pleasure all 15 chapters of Republic Pictures’ Dick Tracy!
Page content excerpted with permission from Garyn Roberts’ Dick Tracy and American Culture