The Dick Tracy Quiz

By: Michael Poteet
Image: Youtube

About This Quiz

From the funny pages to the 1990 movie, test your knowledge of comics' most famous copper.

Which U.S. cartoonist created the character of Dick Tracy in 1931?

Chester Gould originally named his smart, square-jawed police detective “Plainclothes Tracy.” Gould retired in 1977, but the strip he created is still published today (as of 2016), with art by Joe Staton and script by Mike Curtis.

What American city is “the City” in Dick Tracy based on?

Although Gould’s strip never identified Chicago by name, it did explicitly mention many Chicago suburbs and landmarks.

Who is Dick Tracy’s long-time sweetheart (and, eventually, wife)?

Reluctant to write a story in which Tracy and Tess wed, Gould only did so in 1949 at his wife Edna’s urging.

Who starred as the detective in the 1990 movie, "Dick Tracy"?

Beatty (whose films include "Reds" and "Heaven Can Wait") not only starred as Tracy but also directed the movie. In April 2016, Beatty confirmed he had plans to make a sequel.

As the film begins, what are Tracy and Tess doing when Tracy is called to a crime scene?

Before he leaves to investigate what's happened at the 7th Street Garage, Tracy tells Tess he’ll be back because he wants to know how the opera ends.

Which two of Big Boy’s lieutenants carry out the hit on Lips Manlis’ men at the 7th Street Garage?

Flattop Jones is arguably Dick Tracy’s most popular and iconic nemesis. He first appeared in a 1943-44 comic strip storyline, and has been portrayed not only on film but also on radio and in animated cartoons. He has even been “meet and greet” character in Disney theme parks.

Which of these "Law & Order" actors plays a character on the wrong side of the law in "Dick Tracy"?

Paul Sorvino plays Lips Manlis. In Chester Gould’s comic strip, Tracy eventually helped Manlis reform. He changed his name to “Bob Honor.”

How does Big Boy kill Lips Manlis?

Big Boy condemns Lips to “the bath,” meaning he will be smothered in cement, placed in a crate, and dumped in the bay.

What message does Flattop shot into the wall at the 7th Street Garage?

Flattop’s action is an homage to the animated "Dick Tracy Show" (1961), where bad guys often wrote messages on walls using Tommy guns.

What clue does Tracy find at the 7th Street Garage?

Tracy finds walnuts, a favorite snack of Big Boy Caprice, who believes they are “good for the liver.”

Who plays would-be head mob boss Big Boss Caprice?

Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for playing Big Boy, but lost to Pesci ("Goodfellas").

What illegal business is Big Boy running at the Club Ritz?

Gambling was no doubt only part of Big Boy’s criminal enterprise. Chester Gould modeled the character of Big Boy after Al Capone.

Who played femme fatale Breathless Mahoney?

Romantically involved with Warren Beatty at the time, Madonna also released a "Dick Tracy"-related album entitled "I’m Breathless," now arguably best remembered for its closing track, ”Vogue.”

Finish the quote: “If a woman don’t wear ____, she don’t wear nothin”?

When Big Boy tells Breathless this opinion, she replies, “Well, I look good both ways.”

To whom does Big Boy attribute the quote, “All’s fair in love and business”?

Big Boy misquotes many historic men during the movie.

Who plays 88 Keys, “the best piano player in town”?

Patinkin played 88 Keys, who, in Gould’s comic strip, was the ruthless head of a mercenary killers’ gang.

Which famous musical theater composer wrote the songs for the movie?

Sondheim is best known for such musicals as “A Little Night Music,” “Company,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Into the Woods.” He won an Academy Award for the song “Sooner or Later” in "Dick Tracy."

Which song does Big Boy rehearse with Breathless and chorus at the Club Ritz?

“More” quotes several classic songs of the era in its lyrics, such as Gershwin’s “I Got Plenty O’ Nothing” and “I Got Rhythm.”

How does Breathless respond when Tracy asks her whether she grieves for Lips Manly?

The line is one of several Breathless uses in a fruitless attempt to seduce Tracy.

What has “The Kid” just stolen the first time Tracy and Tess meet him?

In the comic strip, "The Kid" eventually founded "The Crimestoppers' Club," became a police sketch artist and, in the strip's 1960s Space Age-inspired adventures, married a woman from the Moon!

What have Tess and The Kid gone to get when they come back and find Breathless with Tracy?

Breathless makes an eyebrow-raising innuendo comparing herself to peach ice cream: “Better eat it right away. It's starting to run a little.”

After an attempted hit on him, Tess tells Tracy, “When you play in the street, it’s part of the game… Just don’t ask me to _____.”

Tess also tells Tracy, “If you weren't out in the street every night riskin' your neck, you could have a wife-- I mean, a life.”

What prompts The Kid to run away from Tracy’s apartment?

Using a high-pitched voice, Itchy claims to be Mrs. Skaff from the welfare department.

How does The Kid earn his honorary detective certificate?

The Kid is told his certificate can’t be permanent until he chooses a name. He settles, of course, on “Dick Tracy, Jr.”

All-around entertainer Dick Van Dyke played which role in "Dick Tracy"?

Positive reviews of Van Dyke in the role helped lead to his later TV series, "Diagnosis Murder."

Where does Tess Trueheart work?

Tess is a horticulturist: “I have to get to the greenhouse, I have those new delphiniums coming in.”

Which day is Dick Tracy’s day off?

When Tracy tells Breathless Sunday is his day off, she replies, “It’s a big world. It must be Sunday somewhere.”

Who kidnaps Tess Trueheart?

The Blank kidnaps Tess in order to lure out Tracy, and frames Big Boy for the crime.

For whose murder do The Blank and 88 Keys frame Tracy?

88 Keys has a letter in Tracy’s handwriting forged that draws Fletcher to the hotel where The Blank kills him.

Who secretly is “The Blank” (“No-Face”), Big Boy and Tracy’s faceless antagonist?

In the comic strip, “The Blank” was a man named Frank Redrum (“murder” spelled backwards).

On what holiday does the film end?

In the film, Breathless dies just before midnight. In the comic strip, Tracy put “The Blank” behind bars on January 3, 1938.

What does Tracy toss to Tess at the movie’s end?

He tosses Tess what the audience presumes is an engagement ring, but only after his stumbling proposal has been interrupted by the police’s call to action.

What famous crooner played the detective in the 1945 musical broadcast, "Dick Tracy in B-Flat"?

The cast also featured Bob Hope as Flattop and Dinah Shore as Tess.

Which notable horror actor played Tracy’s antagonist in "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome" (1947)?

The film was the fourth and final Dick Tracy movie released by RKO. A character inspired by Gruesome entered the "Dick Tracy" comic strip in 2014.

In 2014 the "Dick Tracy" comic strip crossed over with what other classic comic?

“Daddy” Warbucks hired Tracy to investigate the abduction of his adopted daughter in a storyline that tied up the "Annie" cliffhanger that had ended that strip four years previously.

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