Hail, the third of six Dicks:
This week’s foe – a criminal who strikes dread into the heart of all with his – dare we even say it? – total baldness:
He’s a Master of Disguises:
Smart move; when they’re looking for a bald guy, wear a hat. You could grow hair but the underworld wouldn’t take you seriously if you were named Hairhead or Chia- skull or Mane-topp, because then people would think you were trying to hard. Shave your head, though, and you have a brand name. He steals some diamonds, kills the guy with the rocks, and that means they have to call in Dick.
Aw, it’s this guy again:
Sure, I understand, Tess, you want to see other detectives. No, I don't mind. I don't even care. Goodbye. So the “100 Mysteries” series can’t get these in the right order, again. Okay, a bald guy as the villain, a B-actor with a mug full of Novocain for the hero – this looks unsalvageable.
I take that back:
Skelton Knaggs! The only man who makes Peter Lorre look like Peter Lawford.
Last week Gruesome stopped off at a bar called the Hangman’s Noose; this time, it’s another cheerfully named watering hole in the Criminal District:
Next week it's probably the Rusty Knuckles or the Bloody Blackjack or the Leadpipe Encrusted with Unseen DNA Evidence. The movie takes a brief detour into reasonably-decent territory here; the bar’s owner, Filthy Flora, is a character from of a movie set in Victorian times, all brass and smeared lipstick and messy hair and money jammed in various moist folds. The sort of lively old broad what deloits in th' news of th' Ripper - 'e cut 'er parts out, 'e did, oi swears - only to get sliced up in an alley. But as usual with Tracy films, it slows to a grey crawl the minute we leave the demimonde and tag along with Dick. The film seems to recognize this, and introduces a character named – really – Vitamin Flintheart.
His influence lives on to this day.
Eventually CUEBALL STRIKES AGAIN, and strangles Filthy Flora, who tries to fend him off with exaggerated gospel singing:
Testify! But you don’t care. You want MORE KNAGGS! Here he looks like Raul Julia in raisin form:
Turns out that Cueball is strangling people with his hatband, which at least is head-related. In the end he dies. The end. Any Trek connection? Yes: John Anderson, the assistant director , played an immortal being named “Kevin” more than 40 years later, in this episode. You'll recognize him - he was a rangey fellow who had a certain fron-teer gravitas.