Dick Tracy (1990)
Review by Thespia

Directed by Warren Beatty
Written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr., based on characters created by Chester Gould
Starring Warren Beatty, Madonna, Glenne Headly, Al Pacino, Charlie Korsmo

Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Nah, it's just as good on VHS, really.

Dick Tracy (Beatty) is facing off against a town full of garish, whacked out villains--the worst of which is Big Boy Caprice (Pacino, delightfully not just over the top--but completely out of Earth's orbit). With the elimination of Lips (Paul Sorvino), Caprice moves in and takes over his club--which features the vivacious Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). If the baddies with guns aren't bad enough, Breathless seems to be moving in on Tracy, much to the chagrin of Tracy's true love, Tess (Headly).

This movie is truly unlike any other I have seen, at least from an artistic perspective. The sheer artistry of comic book illustrations (sadly under-appreciated by today’s readers who prefer artists who can't even freaking draw feet right) is beautifully recreated in the set and costumes. The design work also shows amazing attention to detail, such as making all of the reds match each other as if an illustrator really created them all with the same paint. The award-winning makeup is also very creative and impressively crafted--it's easy to forget all the cameos and be stunned each time the credits roll. The music, with songs by Stephen Sondheim, is delightful. (Personally, though, I am very disappointed that the majority of the featured songs do not appear on the soundtrack.)

The story itself is somewhat one-dimensional and single-minded. While it's nice to see a comic adaptation that obviously doesn't have franchiseville in mind, still it's demoralizing to see everything plus the kitchen sink from Tracy's universe shaken out onto the screen. Let's face it--if it wasn't so gee whiz to look at--and if the cast wasn't having a blast going into the stratosphere--the flick would probably be unwatchable.

As for the DVD, it has nothing but a French language track. Extremely disappointing. It would be nice to hope that this disc is only a preview of some uber-verson coming down the pike--but I'm not holding my breath. There's just so much ground that could be covered: a Beatty commentary track joined by others; a featurette on the costumes, makeup and art direction along with some sketches thrown in; and as long as we're thinking big--why not a conversation with Sondheim on the songs? What about the “Making of Dick Tracy” specials we all saw on television when it came out? There isn’t even a trailer on here for crying out loud.

So for now, unless you just really get a hankering for the film--stick with a VHS widescreen copy.

Buy it from Amazon!
Buy the Madonna CD I'm Breathless from Amazon!

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