"Dick Tracy" is one of our family's favorites -- the actors are great -- the art direction is exceptional -- the music is magic. It's not supposed to be "To Kill A Mockingbird" -- it's a fun experience.
Stephen Sondhemim's songs are stellar: "Back in Business" is energetic, "Sooner or Later" is just right, "What Can You Lose" is haunting -- even tunes like "Live Alone and Like It" add to the story
Got to love the giddily over-the-top performances of Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Glenn Headly, Charlie Korsmo, Mandy Patinkin, James Caan, Dick Van Dyke, supporting villains... The list is far too long. And, yes -- even Madonna and Warren Beatty are awesome. Written with a smile a minute (how many times have we looked at each other and said, "Wait a minute -- I'm having a thought -- it's gone!"?).
However, one of most telling things about in this film is that everyone involved seems to be having a good time -- and that above all adds to the enjoyment for the viewer. So, if you haven't already, why not give "Dick Tracy" a chance -- accept it for what it is -- a Sunday comic strip brought to life -- and in a wonderful way!!
This is amazing-looking movie with the whole thing done in just six or seven colors. When it came out over 15 years ago, it stunned audiences with its color scheme, being so different from anything else that had ever been put on film. Those colors, for me at least, make this an absolutely fascinating film to watch. There are literally thousands of scenes I wish could freeze and somehow convert them to a painting to study for their artwork.
The characters and the story don't match up to the greatness of the photography, but they are all over-the-top, especially the villains. The famous actors who played them here must have a had a lot of fun on the set playing "Flatop," "Pruneface," "Lips," "Mumbles," etc.
Meanwhile, Warren Beatty and Gleanne Hedley are good as Dick Tracey and girlfriend Tess Truehart, and she's as sweet and soft as her name. Another good addition is Charlie Korsmo as the delinquent young boy Dick and Tess take under their wing. The colorful other characters are played by Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, William Forysthe, Paul Sorvino, Mandy Patinkin, Madona and other names you know but are too numerous to list here. Check the full credits on the main page and you'll amazed.
The only negatives I found were Pacino's voice which grates on you after awhile, Madonna's off-key singing voice and the fact that the film would have been better trimmed about 10 minutes. Those "faults" are all minor because overall, this is a fun movie....a cartoon strip coming to life in an incredibly-colorful fashion.....like nothing you have ever seen.
If Dick Tracy was in black and white, the pope wouldn't be religious. Giving a new sense to the concept of color in a movie, we are offered an unique experience throughout a comic-strip world, and it's one of the few movies which succeeded in doing so, thanks to a serious script, good direction, great performances (Al Pacino is astonishing) and most importantly a powerful mix of cinematography, art direction and costume design. Using only primary colors, the experience is quite different from anything we have seen before. And there is also a quite successful hommage to all the gangster-movie genre, pratically extinct from modern cinema. Overall, I see this movie as a fresh attempt and a touch of originality to a cinema which relies more and more on the old and already-seen formulas. 7 out of 10.
This is a marvelous film. Warren Beatty managed to film it just like a comic book MIGHT be brought to film with humourously grotesque and bizarre characters, beautiful colours, and a plot that really only could have come from a comic book. The buildings, set design, make-up, and props are like nothing I have ever seen in film before. Now, never having read the original strip leaves me out as far as making probably very insightful comparisons with this film and the original source. That being said, I think that Beatty, although drastically changing some of the villains in the film to fit smaller roles, tried to keep the spirit of the film inside the comic strip. Does that make sense? Probably not. Anyway, Dick Tracy offers a lot. It is a visual feast with a decent story and some prime time stars doing some things you may not expect from them. Beatty is very good as the lawmen, but much of the supporting cast steals many scenes from him. Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice is sensational as an over-the-top thug out to get every criminal under his control, while he intermittenly quotes folks like Nietchze, Jefferson, and other historical figures. Dustin Hoffman as Mumbles is wonderful - if you can finally figure out that it is him(notice in the scene where a stenographer is taking down what he says((That is Oscar winner Kathy Bates!))). James Caan has a brief yet good scene with Pacino Godfather style and Beatty gives Michael J. Pollard and Estelle Parsons cameos as well(both co-starring with him in Bonnie and Clyde). Then there is Madonna. She tries her best to live up to her name of Breathless and does a VERY credible job at it. And then of course there is the music of Stephen Sondheim, an Oscar winner for this film. It is very good and in some ways more memorable than much of what goes on in the film. Perhaps a song here or there might have been cut, but for the most part the music greatly added to the overall effects created in the film. Is Dick Tracy great? No, but it is a whole lot better than it is generally given credit for. In some ways its innovation must be reviewed again. I think that for its type of film it is one of the best.
First and Formost, this movie hits the comic strip right on the nose (it was goofy looking and freak'n violent). The one thing that always gets me is that we have detectives, feme fatales, rutheless gangsters, exploding cars and machine guns, all done in super bright rainbow colors. I find that the bright colors really pull this movie off, It conveys the whole "comic book" idea, better than the giant balloons from Batman, the verbaitum sound effects from X men, and certainly those annoying "panel" shots from hulk.
After seeing Dick Tracy in the 6.99$ bin at Future Shop I decided to give it a go with no previous knowledge and being a big fan of Mafia and Crime movies. I was very surprised to see a very fun, smart entertaining movie with solid performances throughout. The movie moves along well, it has of course another solid performance from Warren Beatty, but the real standouts of the film are Al Pacino and Madonna. I was happy to find out that Pacino was nominated for his performance as an over the top gangster trying to take down the city. Madonna was great as the damsel in distress, she really impressed me and added depth to her performance. If you go in with the attitude of wanting to watch a fun, smart movie with great acting and a solid script then give Dick Tracy a try. I don't think you will be disappointed. And Watch for the cameos from Paul Sorvino, James Caan, Kathy Bates and Dustin Hoffman among others.
I've been watching "Dick Tracy" for years, and as a result it's become a vital part of my life - it was with me throughout childhood and I used to see it quite often. Seeing it now, as an adult, it's still a very good movie - dark, satiric and incredibly misunderstood. About the only thing that can be said is the Oscar nomination Pacino received - other than that it is rarely discussed and didn't make much of a fuss when it came out.
Pacino is over-the-top but to good effect as he's clearly having loads of fun. Beatty is great as Dick Tracy and behind the camera manages to capture the atmosphere of a film noir comic book better than any other film, possibly, I have ever seen. Just taking a look at one scene from the film is breathtaking. The lighting, velvet overtones and smog/smoke combine to create a great effect.
There are some really funny cameos including one by Dustin Hoffman as "Mumbles," and I don't think there are any flaws at all in terms of acting - even the mandatory kid-character is far better than expected.
Overall, a really fine movie that has become misunderstood over the years since its release and is incredibly underrated with only 5.7/10 average on IMDb. The critics' reviews are very positive (check out RottenTomatoes.com) and after seeing the film once again it's not hard to see why - this is a perfect example of capturing the essence of a comic book, from style to eccentricity.
I thoroughly enjoyed this true to form take on the Dick Tracy persona. This is a well done product that used modern technology to craft a imagery filled comic era story. If you are a fan of or recently watched some of the old Dick Tracy b&w movies then you're sure to get a kick out of this rendition. The pastel colors and larger than life characters rendered in a painstakingly authentic take on an era gone by is entertainment as it's meant to be. I personally find Madonna's musical element to be a major part of this film-the CD featuring her music from this movie is one I've listened to often over the years, it's just so well done and performed musically and tuned to that era. In my mind, Madonna's finest moment both on-screen but especially musically. This is sure to bring out the "kid" in you.
I never attended the midnight showing of a movie before "Dick Tracy" came out.
I still have the "t-shirt ticket" I had to wear to get admitted to the showing around here somewhere and, like that shirt, "Dick Tracy" has stuck with me ever since.
If you've seen the movie, the sharp visuals, bright primary colors and strong characters have no doubt been etched into your brain. It's a wonder to behold.
As director/star/co-writer/producer, Beatty knows what works in a film and shows it here, taking a familiar American icon and re-creating him for a whole new era. Still set in the '30s, "Tracy" has a kind of timeless quality like all good films do. I've lost track of how many times I've watched "Tracy" and I still catch something new every time I do.
The others are all top notch, starting with Pacino's Big Boy Caprice (a reminder that he can do comedy with the best of them), even Madonna's Breathless Mahoney is a relevation in that under the right environment, she can act (GASP!).
But there's still such themes touched on as the necessity of family, keeping true to one's self, good versus evil, even Machiavellian themes are explored. Odd for a comic strip film, but hey, it works.
All in all, "Dick Tracy" is a classic unto itself. Compared with other films of this decade, it makes a strong statement. It's a good, strong film that doesn't depend on blood, violence, profanity or nudity to make its point.
Labor of love for star and director Warren Beatty, Dick Tracy was a film I hated when it first came out. I was a kid and stupid, only caring about what's cool. What was cool then (and sadly still is) was "dark and gritty" heroes like Batman. Dick Tracy was considered corny and lame. When I first watched it I thought it was a kids' movie and I was at that age where anything like that I hated. Happily, I feel much differently about the film now that I'm older.
Dick Tracy is a live-action cartoon, with eye-popping visuals decked out in bright primary colors. It's a beautiful film to behold. Everyone involved in the stylized look of this movie should be proud. The sets, the lighting, the matte paintings, the makeup and effects are all superior to any CGI crap we get today. Real work and passion went into this and it shows.
The cast is great. Beatty is criticized by many for not being the right fit for Tracy or for being too old. While he's not a perfect representation of the character, I feel he does quite well and his age never occurred to me while watching it. Madonna gives easily her best performance in this movie. That's meant slightly as a slam I guess, as most of her other work is very weak. But it's also meant as a compliment. Here she plays to her strengths: sex appeal and "oomph." Her double entendres and skin-tight dresses make Breathless Mahoney a very memorable character. There's also some fine support from Glenne Headley and Charlie Korsmo. And who can forget the villains! Chester Gould's distinctive-looking villains come to life thanks to superb makeup, played in many cases by uncredited stars. The leader of the bunch is Big Boy Caprice, played by the wonderfully over-the-top Al Pacino. Pacino was having a lot of fun with the role and it shows.
My only real complaint lies in the music. Not the Stephen Sondheim songs -- they're great. But the Danny Elfman musical score is way too similar to the one he did for Batman the year before. It's very lazy and doesn't seem to fit the action of the film. Forget what you've read from naysayers about this movie and judge it for yourself. It's a fun movie with exceptional visuals and colorful ambiance.
Released in 1990, Warren Beatty's take on a popular one-time comic book detective is at once successful and distinctive. It doesn't have the preachy Americo-centric moralism of the "Superman" movies, neither does it possess the dark and tragic depths of the early "Batman" films. "Dick Tracy" is distinctive as it just tries to be what it is: a literal live action comic strip. In this the cops headed up by a straight-laced detective (and his plucky kid sidekick) are the heroes, with a horde of ugly, scheming gangsters as the villains.
In a town simply named The City, Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) is an honest but reckless detective who divides his time between chasing villains and going out with his girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly). He finds himself a new sidekick in the shape of the Kid (Charlie Korsmo), a homeless young thief he pulls off the streets. Tracy will need all the help he can get, as his arch-nemesis Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino) is on the rise. He's just rubbed out his main rival Lips Manlis (Paul Sorvino), taken over his club and stolen his girlfriend, singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). Now he's preparing for a rampage that will ensure him complete control of The City.....
Take the story out of the movie and it would make a fine period melodrama. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to keep it interesting for the bulk of it's two-hour running length. The script mixes a healthy stock of comic book characters (hard-nosed cop, honest sweetheart, streetwise kid, mean ugly gangster and attractive but sleazy moll) and has the standard surprise ending. This is combined with a show of action scenes (featuring cement baths, punch-ups and tommy gun shoot-outs) but in keeping with the pictures lighthearted tone, there is nothing gory or explicit.
The setting and technical aspect is especially good in this film. The use of primary colours in both the backdrops, sets and costumes is brilliant and makes the whole film really come alive. Enhancing this is a wonderful music score, put to good use in both the action scenes and the quieter, more sentimental moments. Even Madonna's songs fit in well with the picture, as they're cleverly used in ways that bring the story forward and add irony to key scenes.
The performances are for the most part excellent. Warren Beatty is on form as eponymous detective and he works well in tangent with Charlie Korsmo as The Kid, who is both his partner and surrogate son. If the film has a recurring weakness, it's in the lack of chemistry between him and leading lady Glenne Headly. There is certainly more discernible tension in scenes between him and Madonna, who turns in a good performance as the scheming, gangster's moll. She is certainly no Oscar-winner, but neither is she the wooden disaster so many make her out to be.
The cast of prosthetics-clad gangsters reads like a "Who's Who" of vintage character actors: Dustin Hoffman, James Caan, Paul Sorvino, William Forsythe, James Tolkan, etc. The outstanding performance here, though, is Al Pacino as Big Boy. Usually known for his more serious portrayal of villains in films like "The Godfather" and "Dog Day Afternoon" it is a delight watching him go gleefully over the top here. Big Boy is deluded, cruel and arrogant and makes a worthy adversary for Tracy.
Not one of the most well-known comic book films going around, but it is still a joy to watch.
The 1990 film Dick Tracy is the most modern cinematic take on the comic strip created by Chester Gould which ran from 1931 to 1977. This version stars Warren Beatty as Dick Tracy and his love interest Tess Trueheart is played by Glenne Headly. Dick Tracy continues on his mission to clean the city of the gangster that try to run things. Big Boy Caprice played by Al Pacino is trying to unite all of the different mob organization to take over the city and be done with Tracy for good. Those who don't join him such as Pat Patton (James Caan) and Lips Manless (Paul Sorvino) meet an untimely demise. The only one who can stop Big Boy is Tracy. Tracy hits the gangster hard until the character called No Face frames him for the murder of D.A. Fletcher (Dick Van Dyke). With Tracy off the streets Big Boy and his goons own the town. How will Tracy with the help of Kid (Charlie Korsmo) put an end to this madness? With the main theme being the typical good versus evil that is present in so many comic to movie story lines, this is not the melodramatic dark story of Batman. It parallels in a lot of ways to Sin City. The use of colors to make up the cities between the two films is similar as is the hard-nosed cop going after the bad guy at any costs. While this is a much more family friendly movie than Sin City, the similarities between the two in terms of graphics are definitely there.
Besides the amazingly bright colors that make up the city and the costumes, the singing done by Breathless Mahoney (Madonna), when she isn't too busy trying to seduce Tracy, really captures the camera. By the end of the movie you might be wishing that they had cut a song or two out of it, but none the less, Breathless lived up to her name with her amazing revealing costumes. The costume designing throughout the movie was great as many characters seemed to match. Kid took quite a liking to Tess and was often seen wearing the same shade of red as she was. Tracy wore his trademark yellow trench coat and fedora of course, but every character in the movie was dressed to the 9's.
The only part of the movie that really out-shined the wardrobe was the superb job done by the makeup department. The effect they used to change the faces of the villains was incredible. Big Boy was only identifiable as Al Pacino by his voice, and the work done to Flat-Top was great. The job of acting by Dustin Hoffman in the role of Mumbles will leave you laughing, especially the scene with the court reporter.
Overall this is a fun movie to watch as a family. There are the parts that will make the parents smile, and the content is suitable for most ages, as well as the theme of good versus evil in a dazzling colored world, and you will finish the movie wishing you had one of the famous Dick Tracy two-way watches.
Dick Tracy was released in 1990. Tim Burton's Batman was released a year earlier and nearly a quarter of a century later is starting to look its age.
Dick Tracy on the other hand with its comic strip look and a colour palette of seven colours with a focus on primary colours looks fresh and dazzling even today.
Warren Beatty was never an actor who chased populist vehicles rather make films that were thoughtful, even be deemed to be boring. Here as star and director he deliberately went for a unique approach to the Chester Gould comic strip character. Only Ang Lee with his approach to the Hulk has shown that kind of originality.
What Dick Tracy also has is a wealth of stars, many of them under heavy make up. Al Pacino has a licence to chew the scenery even more than his Tony Montana. Madonna is sultry enough although she is not a strong enough actress but at least she gets to sing a few Sondheim tunes.
Beatty is believable as Dick Tracy, Glenne Headly is the one who is actually more sexy than Madonna as Tess Trueheart. There is an actual script with a decent storyline and its one of the more original takes on a comic book adaptation ever made. Plaudits have to go to Beatty the Director for that.
An all-star cast, vivid colors that could give you a headache and Madonna's sizzling performance made many think that "Dick Tracy" is much better than it actually is. It is one of those typical quantity over quality projects that uses smoke and mirrors to make the audience think that it is something unique and intriguing. However, the film is little more than a comic strip that jumps up at you ala the "Superman" or "Batman" group of films. Warren Beatty's performance and in-your-face direction are not totally successful. The seemingly endless name of cast members also becomes dizzying. Al Pacino (Oscar-nominated) steals every scene and pulls a Jack Nicholson from "Batman" out of his hat. "Dick Tracy" is a good film, but it is far from being a masterpiece. 4 stars out of 5.
Dick Tracy is one of my all time favorite films. I must admit to those that haven't seen it. You will either really love it or really hate it. It came out a year after the success of Batman. So everyone's expectations were so high that many were let down simply because the plot is so simple. But its based on a comic strip...what did you expect? Creatively, this movie is amazing! The sets, make-up, music, costumes, and the impressive acting make this film fantastic. The film has bloodless violence and no bad language - that's something rare these days. Directed, produced, and stars Warren Beatty as the ace crime fighter going up against Al Pacino's evil Big Boy Caprice and his mob of thugs. Madonna steals the show as the seductive Breathless Mahoney. This is one of the best characters Madonna has ever played. She has the best one liners I've heard! Madonna fans would love it! One of the coolest things about the film is that they only used seven colors to make it look like a comic strip. This film is truly a piece of artwork that is sadly overlooked by the public. To sum things up, this film brings out the child in all of us. It's a film that will leave you smiling at the end.
If you were a fan of previous incarnations of Dick Tracy, then this is the film for you. If not, find another film to watch...
Warren Beatty does a decent enough job as Dick Tracy who battles the underworld. Warren also directed this film and did a good job.
Dick Tracy was always a great character complete with an unrivalled rogues gallery of villains (except for Batman). The villains are all here and kudos to the make-up department who made the bad guys totally hateful. The plot is also quite good as well and the colour is good too. I believe the film was shot in only six (or maybe seven) colours and the sets of the city are totally faithful to the original Dick Tracy comic strips.
Obviously, this film tried to emulate Batman but immitation is the sincerest form of flattery. This film is almost as good as Batman and certainly not deserving of the criticism it had when it first came out.
One more thing-Madonna as Breathless Mahoney. I don't know if a film like this suited Madonna but it was great to see her in it because she is beautiful and improves with age.
All in all, a cracker of a film which I urge youngsters to see because they will enjoy it.
"Dick Tracy" holds up surprisingly well. And just to get the negative out of the way . . . Ugh, Madonna is awful. Her half-assed line deliveries drag every one of her scenes. In all fairness, I'm not a Sondheim guy, so the songs aren't my cup of tea, either (same problem I had with "Sweeney Todd"), but it's astounding how dead weight she is.
But in spite of that burden, the movie stands as a love letter to the comic strip medium and the period; the artful shot compositions, the gorgeous matte paintings, and my god the chroma saturation. This thing's a visual feast. Warren Beatty created a pretty cool world to visit, populated with coppers, hoods, fedoras, Tommy guns and flying fists. It's simplistic, but that's it's charm. And a lot of love went into this.
It brings back memories of that Summer in 1990 with the marketing-as-pop-art campaign, and it's totally Disney's grab at "Batman" levels of success (even nabbing Danny Elfman, although his score is a high point).
The comic strip detective (Warren Beatty) finds his life vastly complicated when Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) makes advances towards him while he is trying to battle Big Boy Caprice's united mob.
After almost twenty-five years, this film is still entertaining, well-acted and just good fun. While a bit silly, this is part of the fun, and it is still amazing to see how many big names were willing to take parts where they would be hardly recognizable.
Unfortunately, I think the weakest link is Danny Elfman's score. I hate to say hat, because I love Elfman's work, but he was coming off of "Batman" and many of the film's musical moments sound like recycled bits from that prior film.
Just like The Phantom (1996), The Shadow (1994) and The Rocketeer (1991), the 1990's was the decade Hollywood thought it would be a great idea to revive older comic book/strip characters from the 1930's due to the strong reception from Richard Donner's Superman (1978) and Tim Burton's Batman (1989). Unfortunately, none of these films did fantastic at the box office because of the lack of support. But that doesn't mean what was produced, was poor material. This film is probably the one that lit the fuse to construct the other three later to come.
There is a subtle difference between this particular film and the other three - the sense of realism. The setting is the same, which takes place in the 1930's but the world that detective Dick Tracy lives in, is a little bit unrealistic. But this is what makes it so avant-garde. For example, Each characters name depicts what they are like. If a mob member's name is called "Flattop", they will literally have a flat top. Or another named "Little Face", truly has a small face. Each character is a characacher of their own name. This is actually rather clever and funny at the same time. I liked that a lot, even if no person would ever have such a misshapen body structure.
Starring is Warren Beatty, an acclaimed actor, best known for his role in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), directs his third film with this comic strip icon - Detective Dick Tracy. Along with him, co-stars Al Pacino, a very young Madonna, Paul Sorvino, Glenne Headly even Dick Van Dyke and several others. And even with a big cast, sometimes films don't do well, but here, it works out well because of how likable these characters are. Beatty plays Tracy like it's been his job for more than his acting career. Madonna is attractive and highly seductive like she was supposed to be, so that works. Even Al Pacino as the villain gives some comedic relief. It's funny because how his make-up was applied makes him look like a Muppet.
What also stood out was just how colorful the entire film was, in its most basic form that is. Movies now a days and even back then contained a multiple array of colors but in Beatty's film, it sticks to your regular Kindergarten colors - green, yellow, red, blue, black, orange... and so on. There are no shades to these primary and secondary colors. They are just your basic crayons and it really stands out. Dick Tracy wouldn't be as memorable to me if he didn't wear his banana colored fedora and trench coat. It just wouldn't be the same and it's because of these colors that help accentuate the exaggerations of the characters.
Lastly, comes the music score provided by none other than Danny Elfman. What's great about Elfman's score in this particular work is that he gives the comic strip hero and his love interest each their own memorable theme. Along with that are Elfman's other tracks that contain a lot of jazzy tunes consisting of trumpets and other instruments from that specific time. I did find it cliché though to how the famous detective gets himself into trouble for a lot of silly things because he's either not paying attention or because he lets his selfishness get to him. But that's about it.
The movie adaptation of the 1930's comic strip detective is colorful, clever, has great performances and memorable music. It's writing is shaky in some places but it still holds up to a very entertaining movie.
At times brilliant, at times downright boring, Warren Beatty's adaption of the Chester Gould comic strip is a very frustrating film that has so much going for it but the end result really doesn't reflect that. In the film Beatty plays Tracy, the detective trying to bring crime to an end but without any witnesses he finds himself fighting an uphill battle. The main goal is to bring down Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino) but without the testimony of Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) there's not much Tracy can do. DICK TRACY is such a beautiful film to look at that it's a real shame the final product isn't better. If the story and pacing had been better this here really could have been one of the greatest comic adaptation but as it stands the film is simply too painful to sit through to fully enjoy. I use the word painful on purpose because even though this things runs just 101-minutes it really does feel twice as long as ROOTS. I'm really not sure what happened and why the film turned out this way but Beatty certainly must get some of the blame with the lack of any real characters and the fact that everything happens at such a slow pace you just wonder what was the point. None of the characters are really all that memorable in regards to their actions but their looks are terrific. The special make up effects are one major asset and it certainly brings these characters to life, their ugliness and all. Even the Tracy character isn't all that deep for some reason. With that said, the technical side of this picture is downright flawless. The art direction, set design and cinematography are among the greatest you're ever going to see. The beautiful colors are some of the greatest you're going to see. I'd also say that the performances are extremely good and that includes Beatty in the lead role and Madonna as the sex symbol. Pacino screams his lungs out but manages to be fun and Charlie Korsmo is good as Tracy's little buddy. The supporting cast includes big names such as Dustin Hoffman, William Forsythe, James Caan, Charles Durning, Paul Sorvino, Kathy Bates, Dick Van Dyke, Henry Silva and Catharine O'Hara. Beatty's BONNIE AND CYLDE co-stars Michael J. Pollard and Estelle Parsons even show up. DICK TRACY is a beautiful film to look at but sadly it's mainly all style and very little substance.
At one end of the Eighties Warren Beatty created and starred in the literate epic Reds about the founding of the Soviet Union as seen through the eyes of iconoclast radical John Reed. It was a profound film both entertaining and with a message presented by an all star cast. At the end of the decade Warren Beatty created another kind of epic in Dick Tracy that makes no pretense to being anything other than entertainment with a whole bunch of the best actors around just having a great old time hamming it up under tons of makeup.
That both Reds and Dick Tracy could come from the same individual speaks volumes about the range this man has as a player. In this film Beatty managed to get all the famous cartoon characters from the strip and put them in one original screenplay.
The city's top mobster Big Boy Caprice is making a move to really eliminate competition. The film opens with him rubbing out Lips Manlis's henchmen in a Valentine Massacre style shooting and then Lips himself being fitted for a cement overcoat. But Caprice's moves are making him a target for Tracy.
In the meantime a third mysterious and faceless individual is looking to topple Caprice himself. Will our hero sort out this thicket of crime?
The spirit of fun this film has is truly infectious. When people like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Sorvino, William Forsythe, R.G. Armstrong get themselves outrageously made-up to look like the cartoon creations of strip author Chester Gould and then indulge in an exercise of carving the biggest slice of ham, you've got to love this film.
Al Pacino got a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but any of these guys could have, it's only that Pacino as Big Boy Caprice gets the most screen time. Only Beatty plays it completely straight, the others all seem to play off of him. Dick Tracy won Oscars for Best Art&Set Design, Best Song written by Stephen Sondheim and introduced by Madonna, Sooner Or Later. The fact he was even able to get somebody like Sondheim to write a score for this film only shows Sondheim wanted to get in on the fun. As for Madonna, the Material Girl does more than hold her own with all these acting heavyweights as club torch singer Breathless Mahoney.
Before this film, Dick Tracy movies were consigned to the B pictures and worse as Saturday afternoon serials. The only thing that rivals this all star extravaganza is a radio broadcast done for Armed Forces Radio during World War II that got to vinyl. Can you believe a cast like Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Jimmy Durante, Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, and the Andrews Sisters? Try and find a recording of that gem.
Until then Warren Beatty's classic comic strip for the big screen will do nicely.
I will not under any circumstances even try to defend this film as a touching drama or an exciting thriller. However, it is still a ton of fun, and is packed full with great over-the-top performances, flashy musical numbers, and great production design.
There are three things about "Dick Tracy" that make it such a fun movie.
1. The snazzy production design and set decoration are fantastic. They make the movie look just like a living comic book strip, which is what Dick Tracy is and always was all about. The costumes, buildings, and makeup all spruce the actors and settings up as well. It's a bit strange, but it certainly works.
2. Al Pacino. This is one of the best, funniest, and most over-the-top supporting performances of the 1990s. Al Pacino shows in this movie that he knows how to commit to any role, even the villainous and eccentric Big Boy Caprice. His lines, which are filled to the brim with false quotations and paradoxes, blend perfectly with his grandeur appearance and accent. No offense to Joe Pesci, but i think Pacino deserved to nab the big gold man for this one.
3. The all-star cast of this movie makes it a formidable film indeed. Warren Beatty doesn't have to do much as the detective, and Dustin Hoffman's Mumbles is under-used, but does it really matter? The fact that these major names are in the film is still worth something. Even Madonna makes a competent appearance as the mysterious night club singer who tries to win Tracy over.
This is a fun film, and is very enjoyable to watch for people of all ages. It's no "Crash", but it does what it does very well. Bravo.
Bringing comic books to the screen is a rather recent trend in cinema but it looks like it is definitely here to stay and one of the best offerings of this genre was the 1990 version of DICK TRACY, Warren Beatty's colorful and smart re-thinking of the square-jawed comic book character. Beatty has mounted a beauty of a film here that is gorgeous to look at (the film won an Art Direction Oscar for its flawless and dazzling settings as well as for Costume Design). Beatty has also wisely chosen to underplay and let his huge, all-star cast shine in their various roles and above them all is Al Pacino, who walks away with the film effortlessly with his completely over the top but totally watchable performance as Big Boy Caprice, I don't think Pacino has ever been funnier on film and even received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his efforts. Madonna also leaves an impression as Breathless Mahoney (one of my all time favorite movie character names)as do Paul Sorvino as Lips Manlin, and Mandy Patinkin as 88 Keys among others. Patinkin and Madonna give effective service to the songs by Broadway genius Stephen Sondheim (one of them, "Sooner or Later", also won an Oscar). Though fairly predictable, DICK TRACY is a colorful and entertaining ride through comic book land that is definitely worth a look. A treat for the eye and ear.
Dick Tracy is a cinematic tour de force of excellent visualisations. The outstanding make-up marries itself superbly with the simply stunning set designs to accord us with in effect a living comic book. The plot is waifer thin, but as with Batman  what matters is how the film looks, and unsurprisingly it looks fantastic. As well as all the above things you also have class performances from all the cast members. Warren Beatty's is now the definitve performance of Dick Tracy. After seeing Beatty it is hard to imagine Ralph Byrd and co in the role. Beatty also performs wonders with the stylish direction. Al Pacino comes across seriously in a comic role as the evil Big Boy Caprice, wonderfully hidden behind luxurious make up designs, and Maddona as Breathless is just fantastic. Stephen Sondhiem's songs add to the fun and above everthing is Danny Elfman's glorious themes. Excellent a winner. More Dick Tracy movies now please.