Dick Tracy (1990)
February 22, 2023 8:07 AM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Hard-boiled detective Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) is searching for evidence that proves Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice is the city's most dangerous crime boss. He may have found the key to unraveling the crimelord's illegal empire in Breathless Mahoney (Madonna), an enigmatic barroom singer who has witnessed some of Caprice's crimes firsthand. However, she seems more set on stealing Dick away from his girlfriend, Tess (Glenne Headly), than helping him solve the case of his career.

Also starring Al Pacino, Charlie Korsmo, Mandy Patinkin, Seymour Cassel, James Keane, Charles Durning, William Forsythe, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Sorvino, James Caan, Estelle Parsons, Charles Fleischer, Mary Woronov, Kathy Bates, Catherine O'Hara.

Directed and produced by Warren Beatty. Screenplay by Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr. Based on characters by Chester Gould. Music by Danny Elfman.

63% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently available for digital rental in the US. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
And the aftermath (I literally JUST saw this on Mastodon)

Sometimes, I think we as a nation are apt to forget that this movie ever happened. But they promoted the FUUUUUUCK out of it when it came out. As unavoidable as Phantom Menace would later be. They thought they had another Batman on their hands. (Narrator: They didn't.)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:18 AM on February 22 [4 favorites]

This movie just never managed to reconcile Warren Beatty into Dick Tracy the way that the Batman movie managed to reconcile Jack Nicholson into the Joker and Michael Keaton into Batman/Bruce Wayne. I don't know whether it might have been easier if he'd managed to make it before he was 50, but either way, it just didn't work.
posted by Etrigan at 11:43 AM on February 22

Honestly, I think getting Sondheim to do the music worked to the movie's detriment, because the music vastly overshadowed everything else.

Like, seriously, I don't remember jack about the plot (and I saw this when it came out), but I remember several of the songs (and also remember Madonna giving General Norman Schwarzkopf a shoutout at the Oscars for some reason).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:09 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

I've only seen Dick Tracy once, in the theater when it came out. Nothing, absolutely nothing, from the movie sticks out in my memory. Utterly forgettable is all I can say about it. It doesn't help that DT is kind of lost in the shuffle among movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit on one side and Cool World, The Shadow, and The Phantom on the other.
posted by Stuka at 1:05 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

I kind of miss the bright cartoony colours of comic book adaptations of the time.
posted by porpoise at 1:15 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

I'm kind of amazed people would say Dick Tracy isn't memorable when you've got Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice, Madonna vamping around in black lace, Dustin Hoffman as Mumbles, Paul Sorvino as the blobfish-like Lips Manliss(!) and those nightmare crook faces all over the place. Like, (spoilers!) the villain is actually Madonna in man-drag and a faceless mask, using a gizmo to give her a scratchy monster voice. This movie is just gloriously nuts.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:34 PM on February 22 [7 favorites]

More than the movie I remember how ubiquitous the marketing was! The McDonald's game was a THING for 9-year-old me.
posted by synecdoche at 5:03 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]

Oh, I didn't say it wasn't memorable - I remember all of those moments with Al Pacino and Madonna and weird-faced villains, and a couple of Madonna's lines here and there. But - I remember them as just moments and that's it, that's my point. I don't remember anything about how they connect or what any of those weird-faced villains DID or WHY.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 PM on February 22 [2 favorites]

Yeah I was a young child when this movie came out and was honestly barely forming memories but I remember telling my mom I wanted to see it. I guess the ads made it look to me like it was for kids.

Never did see it! Lol
posted by potrzebie at 11:42 PM on February 22

All I remember about the movie is all those expensive Dick Tracy yellow overcoats in stores that nobody bought.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:53 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

It was a beautiful movie to watch on a big screen. Not good, necessarily - but beautiful.
posted by davidmsc at 7:59 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]

I remember the visuals. I remember the movie being everywhere. I remember Al Pacino and Madonna, but good lord I remember nothing of substance about this movie.

I'm fairly certain I haven't seen boo of it since it was in theaters. Not even on cable, no accidental viewings, an anti-Shawshank in a way
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:58 AM on February 24

I think this movie is pretty great for a blockbuster based on a comic strip! The story isn't anything special, but it's smarter and more coherent than most superhero-type films: Big Boy is the protagonist, the movie is about his rise and fall, and what drives the plot is his attempts to get Tracy out of the way without getting caught, which of course leads to his downfall. Plus there are lots of nice touches along the way, like the time-lapse montage set to a Sondheim song. My main complaint is that you've got this incredible cast, but most of them don't have enough to do (except for Pacino, who gives his greatest performance).

In a way it's the last of the New Hollywood homages to the 20s and 30s, like Bonnie & Clyde or The Sting.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 11:55 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]

My main memory of this film (and I saw this thing in the theatre!), other than the ugly toys they put out at the time, was that in every interview Warren Beatty did for the film he seemed to brag endlessly about shooting the film all in primary colours. I'm not a fan of the film but it is better than that terrible Frank Miller Spirit movie he did after Will Eisner died.
posted by Ashwagandha at 1:09 PM on February 25 [1 favorite]

Oh man, a few years ago my weekly WP group watched the Spirit. We watch a whole range of movies and it takes a lot for a movie to suck the life out of us, but that one surely did.

I'll suggest this to them and if they accept, I'll report our findings.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:42 PM on February 25

I haven't watched this since probably 1992 or so -- I don't think I would have been allowed to see it in the theater, and haven't rewatched it based on this post, but I did watch a handful of clips on YouTube and something struck me. I know Beatty is the director but the shot choices, the framings and close-ups all seemed, sort of, mannered in a way that strongly reminded me of Sam Raimi or the Coen brothers from that same era. Does that ring true for anybody else?
posted by gauche at 6:18 PM on February 27

« Older Last Week Tonight with John Ol...   |  Movie: Dick Tracy Special: Tra... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments