Dick Tracy (1990) Review

Dick Tracy (1990)

Promotional movie poster

We’re really taking long breaks from the “real world” films that may/may not help us write all these reviews. Some of us just need someone else’s nostalgic trip to feel at home. So today, we bring your a review of Warren Beatty’s 1990 film adaption of Dick Tracy.

So it starts off in a 1930s Chicago(?), a by-the-book, tough detective Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) arrives on the scene of a massacre of a cards game consisting of villains (they’re all pretty much recurring characters from the 1930s comic strip) and the disappearance of the owner of Club Ritz. Meanwhile, a crime boss named “Big Boy” Caprice (played by Al Pacino…you can’t help but see some Tony Montana in him when he yells in scenes) has paid and gathered all of the crime rings of the city in order to form an alliance, which would result in extortion of almost everything from meals in diners to

haircuts in barbershops. Tracy is also a man torn between duty and love, failing to express his feelings to Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly) and being seduced by the attractive singer of Club Ritz, Breathless Mahoney (Madonna…yes.) . He also adopts a street urchin (nicknamed “The Kid”) who assists him throughout the film, but we’re not going to talk about him. There’s also a few notable names like Dick Van Dyke (as District Attorney John Fletcher), Dustin Hoffman (Mumbles), and a cameo as a store owner by Charles Fleischer.

Reviews for this movie were mixed, notably Roger Ebert gave this film four out of four stars for the nostalgia trip and praising it for the designs and prosthetic makeup. Desson Thomson of Washington Post apparently gave a rather negative review, calling it an imitation of the Batman (1989) film, with less in-depth and character development (which is true but isn’t that what a comic feels like unless you’ve read a number of issues?). A bit understandable since Danny Elfman worked on the orchestra score (with Stephen Sondheim) and if you’ve watch films with Danny Elfman scores in them, you’d know how most of his work sounds. Warren Beatty surprisingly produced, directed, and starred in the title role, despite being “too old” for the role (he was 52 at the time…funny, he doesn’t look that old). The film maintains a two-dimensional comic atmosphere, using a believable matte painting with vivid colored surroundings (the comic strip had limited color palette, so everything from cars to clothes were figuratively bleeding bright colors…). Of course, this film is an okay adaptation that doesn’t take away the charm and original plots of Chester Gould’s work. It’s a movie to watch, if you’re into the pulp action (classic-era) genre!

A sequel, too, was planned for the film but due to legal disputes between Warren Beatty and Tribune (the guys who own the comic strips), it has not been produced as of yet…Beatty’s also 74 and aging now.


One Response to “Dick Tracy (1990) Review”

  1. I remember this was a really hyped up movie when it came out but I thought it was only Ok

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