Monday, March 19, 2018

Total Dick - The Dick Tracy Movie!

I sort of remember when Dick Tracy, the high-profile 1990 movie from Touchstone Studios starring big-wheel Warren Beatty hit the theaters. It was about the same time as Darkman and I for some reason saw previews for one at the screening of the other, but I cannot now remember what the order was. Whatever the case, the brightly colored cinematic effort has a lot of charms hidden among its varied hues.

Not least of those charms are those put on display by an up and coming Madonna, a bonafide superstar singer when this movie hit the screens and who does what to my mind is her best film role as Breathless Mahoney. That she can lock down the role of a sultry seductress seems obvious and she does a great deal with the role with very small dresses. Her singing is a highlight of the movie too, though I confess I was likely on toxic overload to Madonna when this movie first landed and so reacted to her with less kindness. The years have proven me wrong and she does a pretty good job. Also on hand are a who's who cast with Beatty himself in the title role, Al Pacino as the major baddie Big Boy, Glenne Headley as Tess Trueheart, and guys like Dustin Hoffman, Ed O'Ross, William Forsythe, R.J. Armstrong, and Henry Silva as sundry Tracy baddies. Forsythe as Flattop steals all of his scenes though O'Ross as Itchy is dang good too.  I especially liked Mandy Patinkin as 88 Keyes too. Even the kid Charlie Korsmo is pretty good in a role which helps add some dimension to a simple crime drama.

The star of this show though is the production design which does everything it can to blend the four-color world of comics with the deep shadows of film noir to produce a movie which to my eye looks like nothing else ever filmed. And I have to say I enjoy it, the bright colors make the characters pop in a landscape that's supposed to evoke the dreariness of a Depression-era city battling mobsters. We're so used to thinking of this world in black and white, that seeing it in such eye-stinging color really shakes up the expectations. It's a pop-art masterwork!

This is far from a great movie, but it's a darn fine entertainment with lots of really fine actors chewing up brightly colored scenery with abandon. Dick Tracy as played by Beatty often looks bewildered, but he's not lost in this spectacle that is worth the time.

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