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MORGAN CONWAY AND DICK WESSEL IN 'DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL'

Title: DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL Year: 1946 Rating: ***1/2

The maligned DICK TRACY replacement-actor from the first two RKO pictures was Morgan Conway, who got a bad rap since he didn't have the square-jaw look of Ralph Byrd... to perfectly fit the comic book crime-fighter brought to serialized life in the 1930's, and then finished the final two of four 1940's pictures that Conway supposedly failed at...

But he actually has a bit more energy and emotion than Byrd... yet altogether seems more like a friendly and affable, trustworthy cop friend that would give Dick Tracy sporadic advice...

Anne Jeffreys and Morgan Conway in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL

However, with the Conway double-feature beginning with DICK TRACY, you did have the best Tess Trueheart in DILLINGER moll Anne Jeffreys, the epitome of a knockout blonde, who rarely played a gorgeous dame who realized how perfect she was: especially here as Tracy's best girl, taken for granite since there's usually a flirtatious b-girl waiting... plus his attention's rapt on the criminal situation at hand...

And for DICK TRACY VS CUEBALL it's an intense and formidable one, since Dick Wessel's titular villain is as bad as any noir antagonist: the celebrated B&W crime genre that the Tracy pictures were never linked with...

Dick Wessel as Cueball in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL with Esther Howard

But with the creative use of sparse lighting, shocking violence and suspenseful chases throughout shadowy shipyards and alleyways (plus director Gordon Douglas), this is as noir as you can get, at least visually...

Meanwhile, Cueball... both the character and  movie... actually befits the classic gangster mold: only he's the lead mob boss and his very own deadly henchman both, taking care of anyone who crosses his path, from the initial murder to crooked lush Esther Howard... while providing Conway a deadly antagonist as dangerous as anyone Ralph Byrd's ever been up against... So there!  

Dick Wessel as Cueball in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL
Dick Wessel as Cueball in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL
Skelton Knaggs in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL
Dick Wessel as Cueball in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL with Esther Howard
Dick Wessel as Cueball in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL
Morgan Conway and Anne Jeffreys in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL
Artwork from DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL
Dick Wessel as Cueball in DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL
 

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