Dick Tracy was released on Blu-ray last month. I saw the movie when it came out, and I was impressed by the cast. I also liked the limited palette, with only a few shades of bright colors used to give the movie a comic-strip look. For instance, early on, a set of oil barrels are red, green, and yellow, and suits are similar crazy shades — emerald, purple, and so on. It looks like someone spilled their crayon box all over the screen. Most famous is Tracy’s yellow trenchcoat and fedora, as shown on the cover.
Warren Beatty directed as well as stars. His then-girlfriend Madonna famously played the slinky, single-entendre-spouting songstress Breathless. Most everyone else has crazy makeup to make them resemble Chester Gould’s caricatures, with their exaggerated, almost inhuman features giving them their names: Flattop, Lips, Little Face, and so on. With the remastered video, everything looks great, but the closeups can’t hide the clay-like appliances used to create the appearances.
The plot has Tracy wanting to capture Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino as a hunchbacked bully) while avoiding promotion to a desk job, but it’s just an excuse for lots of showdowns, posturing, and shootouts. Tracy and his girlfriend, Tess Truehart (Glenne Headly), wind up taking in an orphan Kid (Charlie Korsmo) to save him from the streets. Also appearing are Charles Durning, Dick Van Dyke, Mandy Patinkin, James Caan, Paul Sorvino, Michael J. Pollard, and Dustin Hoffman as Mumbles.
Dick Tracy won three Oscars: Art/Set Direction, Makeup, and Best Original Song for Stephen Sondheim’s “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)”. (Pacino was nominated for Supporting Actor but lost to Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.) Those three awards make it the comic movie most recognized by the Academy Awards, according to IMDB.
I still like the atmospheric music. I hadn’t realized I could sing along to most of the songs, still — but then, I owned the Music From and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy cassette tape. Watching the movie again — which looks great, let me reiterate — was a fun reminder of what good comic movies looked like before we got the artistry and relative subtlety of things like The Avengers, Iron Man, or The Dark Knight.
The DVD comes as a two-disc set, one of the discs being a digital copy, the other the Blu-ray. There are no extras whatsoever, although there apparently exists a longer director’s cut version of the movie. (Unless you count ads, which include one for Castle Season 4 on DVD. The promo for the 25th Anniversary Edition of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on Blu-ray seems a better match.) As with The Rocketeer, this is a bare-bones Disney/Touchstone catalog release on Blu-ray to get whatever sales they can from the new format. However, the screen wait logo, while the Blu-ray loads, is the butt end of a 30s car being peppered with bullets, which amused me. (The publisher provided a review copy.)