Nicolas Zarnoff (Irving Pichel) is an International spy and the most wanted man on the FBI’s list. After a standoff with the FBI, led by Dick Tracy (Ralph Byrd), he is finally captured. He is put on trial and sentenced to death in the gas chamber. The day before his execution Zarnoff asks to see Tracy. Zarnoff attempts to send Tracy on one last wild goose chase that would result in his death, but Tracy is already ahead of him.
On the day of his execution Zarnoff takes a drug that was smuggled in. The drug was infused in the paper of one of the newspapers he requested. Zarnoff adds water to the paper to release the drug. He drinks it. The drug puts Zarnoff in a coma and suppresses his breathing so that he doesn’t inhale the lethal gas, but time is of the essence. Zarnoff’s gang stops the coroner’s wagon transporting his body. They take his body and with a doctor on hand bring Zarnoff back to life.
Zarnoff takes up where he left off with representatives of the three powers. The three powers being the Axis powers, Germany, Italy and Japan. Zarnoff’s various schemes include attempts to blow up canals, trains, yachts and dirigibles. In between he tries to steal plans for an experimental aircraft and other government secrets and plans to sell to the Axis powers representatives. Tracy and his men thwart Zarnoff and his minions at every turn. Whenever possible Zarnoff focuses his ire at Tracy. The investigator needs to be on his toes if he wants to survive to the ultimate showdown.
“Dick Tracy's G-Men” (1939) is a 15-Chapter Republic serial based on the Dick Tracy comic strip by Chester Gould. It was directed by William Witney and John English. This serial was the fifteenth of the sixty-six produced by Republic and the third Dick Tracy serial. As with all four Dick Tracy serials, Ralph Byrd plays the tenacious detective. Gwen Andrews is played by Jennifer Jones. At the time of the serial she was using the name Phyllis Isley.
There’s some nice forensics illustrated in the serial in the beginning. Unfortunately it’s short lived but daredevil stunts and hair raising cliffhangers are aplenty. Junior is gone and so is Tracy’s comic relief sidekick from the first two serials. What Tracy lost in sidekick and orphan he picked up in FBI backup. At least most of the time. He still occasionally rushes into things without his fellow G-Men but most of the time there are a few guys either helping or in the wings waiting for the signal to rush in. All in all it was an action packed serial with some interesting cliffhangers. Although “G-men” doesn’t get as much accolades as the other Dick Tracy serials it was well done and fun to watch. I liked it.
"G-Man" is a modern colloquial term for an agent of the FBI. In the comics Tracy was a police detective but for the serials he’s been promoted to FBI agent. Reportedly the name came about when gangster Machine Gun Kelly was arrested by Federal agents. The story goes that when he was surrounded and unarmed he shouted “Don’t shoot G-men”.
World War II was fought between two major groups of nations. They became known as the Axis Powers and the Allied Powers. The Allied Powers were, at the time, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the United States, China and France (except while occupied). The major Axis Powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Axis powers, also known as the Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis was a military coalition that fought in World War II against the Allied Powers. The Axis powers were all opposing the Allied powers but they weren’t exactly working together in synchronization about it. That’s not easy when everyone wants to be the leader. During the time of the serial the war in Europe and the Axis powers would have been going strong.
Chapter Titles: 1. The Master Spy 2. Captured 3. The False Signal 4. The Enemy Strikes 5. Crack-Up! 6. Sunken Peril 7. Tracking the Enemy 8. Chamber of Doom 9. Flames of Jeopardy 10.Crackling Fury 11.Caverns of Peril 12.Fight in the Sky 13.The Fatal Ride 14.Getaway 15. The Last Stand