Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dick Tracy

Movie Name: Dick Tracy
Year of Release: 1990
Director: Warren Beatty
Stars: Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Madonna, Glenne Headly, William Forsythe, Charles Durning, Dustin Hoffman, Charlie Korsmo, Ed O'Ross, Seymour Cassel, James Keane, Mandy Patinkin, Paul Sorvino, Kathy Bates, Dick Van Dyke, Catherine O'Hara, James Caan, Michael J. Pollard, Estelle Parsons
Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

"Dick Tracy" was Warren Beatty's third feature film as a director, and came after the well known flop that was Elaine May's "Ishtar". The film is an adaptation of the comic book "Dick Tracy", from Chester Gould, and it was Disney studios' attempt at capitalizing on the comic book genre, after the huge hit that was Tim Burton's "Batman" in 1989. The film follows the attempts from Dick Tracy to end organized crime, specifically the shady rulings and organization dominated by Big Boy Caprice. Caprice is a ruthless despot, who rules with an iron fist, but one who fails at getting rid of Dick Tracy. In order to do so, he ends up using this faceless person, who remains unseen, but who has an agenda behind all these criminal endeavors that touch all the city. Tracy on the other hand, has a suddenly complicated personal life, with the appearance of a small orphaned boy, and his "on the fence" relationship with Tess Trueheart.
There's never been any doubt that Warren Beatty is an intelligent film-maker. "Reds" is a classic from the 80s, and his career as a producer and actor, contains classics that have shaped the history of films since the 1960s. "Dick Tracy" was his attempt at creating a transposition of the comic book strip to the big screen - and for the most part that is succeeded. The film is a stunning achievement of production design (from Richard Sylbert), cinematography (from the stupendous Vittorio Storaro) and costume design (from the award winning Milena Canonero), however as a fully fledged film with characters, it ends up failing. The characters remain flat as the pages they are published on, and while Al Pacino makes his villain entertaining and over the top, Beatty feels miscast as Dick Tracy, while Madonna tries unsuccessfully to be the vamp with a heart. Even if the screenplay feels a bit contrived, the film is nonetheless engaging, thanks to the artistry and superb craftsmanship of all the professionals involved, that make this film a vision to behold. A flawed, yet interesting film worth exploring.