Dick Tracy Blu-ray Review
Flattop. The Brow. The Rodent. Little Face. If you read the Sunday comics (back when there were Sunday Comics) in your local newspaper then you recognize these names. They’re some of the bad guys who popped up weekly to cause a little mayhem only to be foiled by the square-jawed, furled browed police detective named Dick Tracy. In his familiar yellow raincoat, Tracy has kept his city safe since debuting in 1931. In those eighty-plus years Tracy has been portrayed in comic books, on radio and television and, of course in films, including a fifteen-chapter serial in 1937. But it wasn’t until 1990 that Tracy made the big time, immortalized by Warren Beatty in the aptly named “Dick Tracy.”
In a dockside warehouse a local gangster is about to be put to sleep with the fishes. Hidden in the warehouse is a young boy who witnesses the crime. He runs and soon finds himself in the custody of the local police, namely Dick Tracy. The Kid (Charlie Korsmo) accompanies Tracy to lunch with his steady gal, Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headley). The Kid (as he’s called throughout the film) loves to eat and figures if Tracy will adopt him he’d be in hamburger heaven. But Tracy has other things to deal with. Namely the new criminal operation being set up by Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino in an Oscar nominated performance). Will good triumph over evil? Will Dick confess his love for Tess? Will the Kid ever utter the words “I’m full?”
Directed with an obvious love for the subject matter by Beatty, “Dick Tracy”, like Tim Burton’s BATMAN the year before, was one of the first films in the early resurrection period of the comic book movie. Fiercely faithful to the tone of Chester Gould’s comic creation, the film features everything the fans love: misshapen villains, cool gadgets and, of course, the hero in the yellow fedora. Beatty was in his early 50’s when he played Tracy but still pulls off the character with ease. And he surrounded himself with a strong supporting cast. Pacino needs no introductions obviously, but he’s also helped by Paul Sorvino, William Forsythe, Seymour Cassel, Charles Durning, Mandy Patinkin and Madonna. Yes, THAT Madonna. As the scantily dressed Breathless Mahoney, Madge gives one of her best film performances as the showgirl whose not what she seems. “You don’t know whether you want to hit or kiss me,” she tells Tracy. “I get a lot of that.” Think of her as a real life Jessica Rabbit. Beatty has also filled the film with some of his pals, including James Caan, a mumbling Dustin Hoffman, Dick Van Dyke…heck even Beatty’s old BONNIE AND CLYDE pals, Michael J. Pollard and Estelle Parsons, show up.
On the technical side the film is striking. Using only the same primary colors normally found in the Sunday papers, Beatty and cinematographer Vitorrio Storaro, a three-time Oscar winner, including for Beatty’s REDS literally paint their film on the screen. The story progresses as the twenty-two person makeup department bring Gould’s criminal creations to life. The musical score by Danny Elfman moves the story along while three songs written by the great Stephen Sondheim, including the Oscar-winning “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)”
Video: Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio the film is a virtual comic book, especially on televisions.
Audio: The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 while the French and Russian soundtracks are in Dolby Digital 5.1. The Spanish audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 The sound is clean and sharp with great separation.
A trailer for the upcoming “OZ: The Great and Powerful” and some upcoming Disney DVD releases.