Befitting his status as a genre star, Boris Karloff earns top billing over leading man Ralph Byrd in RKO's final Dick Tracy caper. The former Frankenstein monster plays an escaped convict masterminding a daring bank robbery. To get in and out of the bank without being noticed, the gang uses an asphyxiating gas that leaves anyone inside momentarily frozen in place. Everyone, that is, except for bank customer Tess Truehart (Anne Gwynne), who is able to contact Dick Tracy (Byrd) from a phone booth in the bank. With little or no clues, Tracy and his man Friday, Pat Patton (Lyle Latell), question the bank customers but none can shed any light on the mysterious goings-on. The disappearance of Dr. A. Tomic (Milton Parsons) and the odd behavior of his associate, Dr. I.M. Learned (June Clayworth), crack the case wide open, however, and Tracy is eventually able to track down both Gruesome and the surprising identity of his boss, L.E. Thal (Edward Ashley). According to some reports, RKO wanted to release Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome as "Dick Tracy Meets Karloff" but that title was vetoed by Karloff himself. The legendary horror star apparently later accepted his own box-office value and a 1949 Universal comedy was released as Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff.
by Hans J. Wollstein synopsis