The Council of Eight, whose remaining members include, J.P. Morton (Ralph Morgan), Henry Weldon (John Dilson), Daniel Brewster (Robert Frazer), Walter Cabot (Robert Fiske) and Arthur Trent (Hooper Atchley) are a secret group of men who have been charged with developing ways to stop major crime by rooting out the head of the syndicate. Their efforts resulted in a major gangster, Rackets Reagan, to be given the electric chair. Reagan’s brother, a mysterious villain known only as the Ghost, has vowed revenge by destroying the businesses of the council member and ultimately losing their lives.
Along with the council, Dick Tracy (Ralph Byrd) was also involved in Reagan’s capture. Now Tracy and his partner Billy Carr (Michael Owen) must battle the Ghost. June Chandler (Jan Wiley), whose father was the most recent victim of the Ghost’s revenge, is helping Tracy to find and stop the Ghost. Tracy knows that Rackets Reagan’s death has something to do with the Ghost’s hatred for the Council but to what extent he is still trying to figure out.
The Ghost relies on a gang of minions and his brilliant assistant Lucifer (John Davidson) to help him in his evil plans. Lucifer has created a devise which allows the Ghost be become invisible for limited periods of time. The Ghost wears a special pendant that receives emissions from a ray projector. When the pendant is worn and the projector is turned on it renders the wearer invisible. One drawback is that the power projected from the devise emits a whining sound. The sound alerts Tracy that the Ghost is near.
Even with the early warning system the Ghost always seems to be one step ahead of Tracy. This leads Tracy and his team to believe that one of the Council members may be the Ghost himself. Tracy doggedly foils the Ghost’s schemes time after time putting himself in the line of fire to do everything he can to try to bring the maniac to justice. The Ghost and his minions do everything they can to bring the Council to its knees.
“Dick Tracy vs Crime Inc.” was released in 1941 and was directed by John English and William Witney. This is the fourth and last Dick Tracy serial made by Republic. As with the others it stars Ralph Boyd as the steadfast detective.
There is quite a bit of stock footage in this serial. In the cliffhanger in episode one the Ghost drops bombs on a fault line off shore from New York City. If the bombs are exploded in the right place New York will be obliterated. The stock footage of the storm hitting the City came from the film “Deluge” 1933 by RKO Pictures. Many of the cliffhangers are also stock footage from previous Dick Tracy serials. Republic used a lot of the really hair raising cliffhangers from the first three serials. Because of it some have referred the fourth Dick Tracy serial as a “best of” compilation.
Watching the serial I was confused thinking that I had seen it before because of some of the cliffhangers. When I researched it a little and found out about the double-dipping from the other serials. Once I understood that I just sat back and enjoyed all the action coming off the screen. Even though I had seen many of them before, they were still fun to watch again.
My favorite is the one where Tracy hangs from the wheel of an airplane and drops down into a motorboat that is full of explosives. Another was when Tracy takes a small single person tank and chases after some bad guys that are trying to blow up a train. The last chapter is also really cool. All the action in it new and not recycled. Tracy has a light that reverses the invisibility of the Ghost. Everything during that fight sequence is shown in reverse negative. Then the demise of the Ghost is truly awesome. It’s a very impressive chapter.
Ralph Byrd as Tracy is, as always, the most energetic detective ever. Even with Bud Wolf doing a lot of his stunts, Ralph still gets in there. Byrd continued his portrayal of Dick Tracy in the television version of the comic strip as well two movies “Dick Tracy’s Dilemma” 1947 and “Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome” 1947.
Chapter Titles: 1) The Fatal Hour, 2) The Prisoner Vanishes, 3) Doom Patrol, 4) Dead Man's Trap, 5) Murder at Sea, 6) Besieged, 7) Sea Racketeers, 8) Train of Doom, 9) Beheaded, 10) Flaming Peril, 11) Seconds to Live, 12) Trail by Fire, 13) The Challenge, 14) Invisible Terror, 15) Retribution.