AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Dick Tracy vs. Cueball
Director: Gordon M. Douglas (Dir)
Release Date:   18 Dec 1946
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 22 Nov 1946
Production Date:   late Mar--mid-Apr 1946
Duration (in mins):   62
Duration (in feet):   5,614
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Morgan Conway (Dick Tracy)  
    Anne Jeffreys (Tess Trueheart)  
    Lyle Latell (Pat Patton)  
    Rita Corday Clyde (Mona)  
    Ian Keith (Vitamin Flintheart)  
    Dick Wessel (Cueball)  
    Douglas Walton (Percival Priceless)  
    Esther Howard (Filthy Flora)  
    Joseph Crehan (Chief Brandon)  
    Byron Foulger (Simon Little)  
    Jimmy Crane (Junior)  
    Milton Parsons (Higby)  
    Skelton Knaggs (Rudolph)  
    Phil Warren (Dr. Martin)  
    Dorothy Grainger (Leeds)  
    Jack Cheatham (Policeman)  
    Ralph Dunn (Policeman)  
    Raoul Freeman (Policeman)  
    Robert Bray (Steve)  
    William Newell (Piano player)  
    Max Wagner (Bartender)  
    Frank Mills (Drunk)  
    Eddie Borden (Drunk)  
    Jimmy Clemons (Butch)  
    Bill Wallace (Doorman)  
    Harry Cheshire (Jules Sparkle)  
    Perc Launders (Telephone operator)  
    Lee Frederick (Purser)  
    Jason Robards (Captain)  
    Trevor Bardette (Lester Abbott)  
    Fred Aldrich    

Summary: After Cueball, a recently released convict, strangles gem buyer Lester Abbott to death in his ocean liner stateroom, he steals Abbott's just purchased diamonds and flees. Police detective Dick Tracy is called to the scene and finds a calling card on Abbott leading him to Abbott's boss, gem dealer Jules Sparkle. At Sparkle's, Tracy orders secretary Mona Clyde to type a company employee list, sure that the theft was an "inside job." While Tracy waits for Mona to finish, he orders his assistant, Pat Patton, to follow another Sparkle employee, lapidary Simon Little, home. While Pat waits outside Little's house, Little meets secretly with Cueball, who demands his $10,000 cut in exchange for the diamonds. Cueball then exits Little's and knocks Pat out from behind before being spotted. Tracy, meanwhile, follows Mona to Percival Priceless' antique store and sees her slip a note under his door. After Mona leaves, Tracy discovers that Priceless is in the store and confronts him about the note, but Priceless insists that Mona is only a customer. Later, Cueball goes to the Dripping Dagger bar and asks owner Filthy Flora for refuge. Suspecting that Cueball is involved in the much-reported diamond robbery, Flora demands $500 for hiding him, and he agrees. The next day, after Tracy learns that Abbott was strangled with a leather strap, he sends his eccentric colleague, Vitamin Flintheart, to check out Priceless' store. While Vitamin poses as a snobbish antique collector, Mona comes in and confers with Priceless about meeting with Cueball at Flora's. Their suspicions about Priceless confirmed, Tracy and Pat follow him to the Dripping Dagger. Hidden in Flora's office, Cueball demands $20,000 from Priceless, then discovers that Pat and Tracy are in the bar. Panicked, Cueball strangles Priceless and flees in his car. Later Cueball returns to the Dagger and strangles Flora after she tries to steal his diamonds. Tracy, meanwhile, deduces that the leather strap used to kill Abbott and Priceless came from a certain penitentiary and learns ex-convict Cueball is the killer. Deciding to trap Cueball, Tracy has his own girl friend, Tess Trueheart, pose as a socialite and approach Mona about purchasing diamonds. Mona takes Tracy's bait and tells Cueball that she and Little can only pay him $4,100 for the diamonds because Tess knows they are stolen. Cueball accepts the deal, but then overhears Mona arranging with Tess to buy the jewels from a financially embarrassed man. Furious at the double-cross, Cueball, posing as a cab driver, takes an unsuspecting Tess to Little's. There Cueball finds a photograph of Tracy in Tess's wallet and is about to strangle her when Tracy and the police burst in and save her. Cueball escapes, however, and in his car, Tracy pursues him to a train yard. During the subsequent chase, Cueball's foot becomes caught in the tracks, and he is killed by an oncoming train. The case solved, Tracy tries to enjoy a birthday dinner with Tess and his foster son Junior, but is called to duty before he can sit down. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Gordon M. Douglas (Dir)
  Leslie Urbach (Dial dir)
  James Anderson (Asst dir)
Producer: Herman Schlom (Prod)
  Sid Rogell (Exec prod)
Writer: Dane Lussier (Scr)
  Robert E. Kent (Scr)
  Luci Ward (Orig story)
Photography: George E. Diskant (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  Lucius O. Croxton (Art dir)
Film Editor: Philip Martin Jr. (Ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  Shelby Willis (Set dec)
Music: C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
  Phil Ohman (Mus)
Sound: Robert H. Guhl (Sd)
  Roy Granville (Sd)
Special Effects: Russell A. Cully (Spec eff)
Country: United States
Language: English
Series: Dick Tracy

Source Text: Based on the comic strip "Dick Tracy" created by Chester Gould, distributed by Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate (Oct 1931--).
Authors: Chester Gould

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 15/11/1946 dd/mm/yyyy LP733

PCA NO: 11592
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Police
Subjects (Major): Betrayal
  Police detectives
Subjects (Minor): Accidental death
  Antique dealers
  Automobile chases
  Foster children
  Gem dealers
  Impersonation and imposture
  Ocean liners
  Taxicab drivers

Note: Dick Tracy vs. Cueball was the second film in RKO's "Dick Tracy" series. The film's opening credits conclude with a special introduction for the character "Cueball." For more information about the series, see above entry for Dick Tracy and consult the Series Index. In 1966, the film was re-issued with Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (see above) by Screen Entertainment, Inc. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   9 Nov 1946.   
Daily Variety   8 Nov 46   p. 3.
Film Daily   14 Nov 46   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Mar 46   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Apr 46   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Nov 46   p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   8 Jun 46   p. 3031.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   16 Nov 46   p. 3310.
New York Times   23 Nov 46   p. 12.
Variety   6 Nov 46   p. 18.
Variety   9 Feb 1966.   

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.