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Author Topic: Dick Tracy (1990) Pulp Noir  (Read 7589 times)
cigar joe
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« on: July 11, 2013, 10:35:54 AM »



Director: Warren Beatty, Cinematography: Vittorio Storaro, Writers: Chester Gould (characters), Jim Cash, and Jack Epps Jr.

Stars: Warren Beatty (Dick Tracy), Charlie Korsmo (The Kid), Madonna (Breathless Mahoney), Glenne Headly (Tess Trueheart), and Al Pacino (Big Boy Caprise) with huge supporting cast includding William Forsythe (Flattop) Seymour Cassel (Sam Catchem) Charles Durning (Chief Brandon) Mandy Patinkin (88 Keys) Paul Sorvino (Lips Manlis) R.G. Armstrong (Pruneface) Dustin Hoffman (Mumbles) Kathy Bates (Mrs. Green) Dick Van Dyke (D.A. Fletcher) Henry Silva (Influence) James Caan (Spaldoni) Michael J. Pollard (   Bug Bailey) Henry Jones (Night Clerk) Estelle Parsons (Mrs. Trueheart) John Schuck (Reporter) and Noir vets Henry Jones (Night Clerk) Ian Wolfe (Forger) Mike Mazurki (Old Man at Hotel).

Chester Gould's comic strip Dick Tracy brought to life in Pulp Noir a pastiche of comic strip/graphic novel, Poetic Realism, Pulp Fiction, and Film Noir.

Beatty and Vittorio Storaro along with Art Direction by Harold Michelson, Set Decoration by Rick Simpson, the Buena Vista Visual Effects Group and Costume Design by Milena Canonero create an enjoyable fantasy world of late 30's early 40's Chicago in a pallet limited to the six main colors that the original comic strip appeared in: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, plus black and white.

Dick Tracy's Chi-town "THE CITY"


Beatty's Tracy is a nice "good guy", always doing the right thing, tough and seemingly incorruptible, but as played by Beatty he is human, tempted determinedly by his femme fatale wanna be, Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). Glenne Headly plays Tess his long time sweetheart, the "good" girl. Charlie Korsmo plays tough street urchin "Kid", who is taken under Tracy's wing. Madonna's Breathess is stunning, she plays is Lip's Manlis's girlfriend/torch singer working his club, when Manlis is whacked she becomes the property of Big Boy Caprise mob boss. Caprise (Pacino) is not only an over the top mobster but a closet choreographer and in a hilarious segment he joins Breathless and the chorines on stage trying to spice up their new number.

Tess & Beatty


The Kid


Some of the best sequences are of Breathless practically showing everything she's got while trying to work her womanly charms on a stoic Tracy.

Breathless trying to seduce Tracy it a dress slit crotch high:

Breathless: What's a girl got to do to get arrested in this town?
Dick Tracy: That dress is a step in the right direction

Dick Tracy: No grief for Lips?
Breathless Mahoney: I'm wearing black underwear.
Dick Tracy: You know, it's legal for me to take you down to the station and sweat it out of you under the lights.
Breathless Mahoney: I sweat a lot better in the dark.



Breathless: Aren't you gonna frisk me?



The Mobsters:

Big Boy


Lips


Pruneface


Flattop


Influence


Spaldoni


Mumbles



The diegetic music is great, the songs sung by Madonna by Sondheim, and the soundtrack music by Danny Elfman not really that memorable, maybe they will grow on me with repeated viewings. A fun film 8/10

A homage shot to French Poetic Realism that I caught, there maybe more of them:

« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 05:59:42 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2013, 10:51:36 AM »

Nice write-up, Joe. The film is a favorite of mine and I bought the Blu-ray on the day of its release. You don't mention anywhere that the film is a semi-musical, with numbers written by Sondheim himself. I think Sondheim's music for this film is as good as anything he's ever done. I agree that Elfman's contribution is no more than adequate.

My favorite exchange is the one between the Kid and Tracy when the Kid, late in the picture, visits Tracy in his jail cell. It goes something like this:

Kid: How's the food in here?
Tracy: Good. [beat] How's the food in the orphanage?
Kid: [beat] Good.

And, of course, we know they're lying, and they know they're being lied to by each other, but that's the way real men play it.

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« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2013, 11:54:43 AM »

The DVD I have seems sightly cut, a warehouse sequence shows the wire tapper Bug Bailey in the crate getting a concrete shampoo, then Tracy magically takes his place. Is the Blue the same?

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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2013, 12:51:08 PM »

I'll have to check.

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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2013, 04:02:11 PM »

More reviews from IMDB

DICK TRACY : Should Be Seen As An Example Of What A Comic Book Movie Should Be...

Author: cwrdlylyn from United States
13 September 2006
DICK TRACY

Warren Beatty's 1991 adaptation of the classic Dick Tracy comic books has only improved with age. At the time of it's release, DICK TRACY's visual style was unlike anything the movies had seen and perhaps some of the public didn't know what to make of it. Beatty decided to have a color palette of just 7 crisp colors, the same colors that were available when the Dick Tracy comics were first published. By doing so, he has created a cinematic world that has the miraculous ability of never feeling dated. This is incredibly refreshing when you consider that fact that the continuous development of computer technology and special effects has caused so many great movies of the past to lose some of their magic over the years. Not the case with DICK TRACY.

Warren Beatty has certainly proved himself over the years to be an incredible contributor to the art form of film with a resume including REDS, BUGSY, BONNIE & CLYDE and more. However, never before and never since has Beatty put out a film full of such nostalgic excitement and fun.

Though there were many different comics and story lines regarding everyone's favorite cop Dick Tracy, Beatty managed to consolidate them all into one engrossing film. DICK TRACY begins with Big Boy Caprice (played by Al Pacino with a great deal of abandon and fun) starting to gather together all the city's gangsters for one unified deal. Together, all of them can rule the city.

Big Boy's plan includes buying out the nightclub where Breathless Mahoney (played by Madonna, in perhaps her best performance) sings and then turning it into a den for underground gambling. Meanwhile, Dick Tracy and his ever-faithful girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headley) have just taken under their wing a young orphan (an incredible Charlie Korsmo) with an endless appetite for food and action. As Dick Tracy tries to get to the bottom of Big Boy's plan, he sees his only link to getting to the truth is Breathless Mahoney... a woman who's not willing to help him until he shows interest in having her as his woman.

The plot is simple, but it is more then compelling enough as a compliment to the incredible visual flair of Beatty's comic book adaptation. Everything including the special effects, make-up, costumes, music, and all the performances are perfectly suited to the film's tone. Everything has a comical cartoonish quality to it, including the dialogue, however everyone involved seems so aware of this quality that they've successfully embraced it and incorporated into their work.

For such a unique film, it's amazing that all the pieces can come together and blend so wonderfully as a cohesive whole... but I suppose that's just a credit to Beatty's directing here. He has managed to literally bring the world of the Dick Tracy comic strips to life on screen in a manner that has only been matched by Robert Rodriguez's SIN CITY. They are two films very different in substance, however their ability to create a unique world so powerfully is unmatched by other comic adaptations.

One of DICK TRACY's most entertaining qualities is the cast it has gathered together. The ensemble is a who's who of great actors even down to the smallest of roles (watch for Kathy Bates and Catherine O'Hara in "blink & you miss them" cameos). Everyone here is having fun without losing focus. Pacino's Big Boy is a thrillingly over-the-top bad guy opposite Beatty's cool and collected all-American hero. Also, the two leading females offer polar opposite performances of equal appeal. Madonna has never been so compelling in a role (aside from a refreshing performance in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN) and she embodies a Marilyn Monroe gone bad like no other could have. Glenne Headley is so engagingly sweet that you don't even notice how spineless she is... she's the epitome of "damsel in distress". And Charlie Korsmo as the kid offers one of the most brashly confident child performances captured on film in recent years.

To top it off, DICK TRACY also features some incredible original music from Stephen Sondheim. Music plays a major role in DICK TRACY from the montages to the live performances, and yet it only enhances the film. DICK TRACY is just an example of all the elements adding up to make a great whole... and there's no single element that ruins it for the rest of them. This is a movie that made me feel like I was a kid again in awe of the new things that only film can show me. It's a shame DICK TRACY isn't more fondly remembered then it is... b/c for today's filmmaker this should be held up high as an example of what to aim for when creating a comic book adaptation.


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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 09:28:55 AM »

The DVD I have seems sightly cut, a warehouse sequence shows the wire tapper Bug Bailey in the crate getting a concrete shampoo, then Tracy magically takes his place. Is the Blue the same?
OK, I took a look at that scene. Here's what happens: Bug, overseen by Prune Face and the Brow, is getting his "bath." Tracy arrives at the warehouse, sneaks in. Prune-y and Brow see him sneaking in, and leave Bug to shift position so as to get the drop on him. They see part of Tracy's yellow coat exposed, unmoving. They open up. Of course, it turns out the coat is just a decoy; Tracy is already beside Bug, setting him free. PF and Brow turn and see where Tracy really is and level their weapons once more. Tracy tries to raise his gun as he steps back; he inadvertently steps under the shower of concrete that is still pouring. This blinds him so he can't see to shoot. The bad guys look like they've got Tracy right where they want him, when No Face appears and shoots PF. Brow runs off; Tracy finally gets the muck out of his eyes just in time to see No Face disappear.

I've also got the DVD and that's what happens on my copy. I think the one you were looking at is defective.

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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2013, 12:19:15 PM »

I love the look of this movie. Will check it out.

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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2013, 01:34:34 PM »

One thing that no one ever mentions about this film is the way it plays with Beatty's iconic image. When Eastwood/Schwarzenegger/Statham essay a role, they do so both as the particular character they're portraying but also as the persona they've adopted more generally. Eastwood is always Eastwood, no matter what name he's wearing in any given film. In Beatty's case, the persona he's known for is the one of the feckless lothario unable to commit to a woman. Anyone else playing Dick Tracy would have attacked the role differently. But because the plot calls for Tracy to be torn between two women--to really be undecided--and because Beatty is able to pull out of himself a performance similar (where the women are concerned) to the one he gave in Shampoo, he can use his iconic self to really add something to the picture. Of course, in the end, Tracy is able to commit--Beatty is able to tap into his persona just long enough for it to be of use to the film, and then he turns that persona on its head in further service to the picture. To my mind, this is up there (in kind, if not degree) with what Bogart does for In A Lonely Place, with what Wayne does for The Searchers, and with what Stewart does for Vertigo.

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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2013, 02:43:39 PM »

OK, I took a look at that scene. Here's what happens: Bug, overseen by Prune Face and the Brow, is getting his "bath." Tracy arrives at the warehouse, sneaks in. Prune-y and Brow see him sneaking in, and leave Bug to shift position so as to get the drop on him. They see part of Tracy's yellow coat exposed, unmoving. They open up. Of course, it turns out the coat is just a decoy; Tracy is already beside Bug, setting him free. PF and Brow turn and see where Tracy really is and level their weapons once more. Tracy tries to raise his gun as he steps back; he inadvertently steps under the shower of concrete that is still pouring. This blinds him so he can't see to shoot. The bad guys look like they've got Tracy right where they want him, when No Face appears and shoots PF. Brow runs off; Tracy finally gets the muck out of his eyes just in time to see No Face disappear.

I've also got the DVD and that's what happens on my copy. I think the one you were looking at is defective.

That is what I have too (I popped it in again, also), I must have blinked or got distracted for a couple of seconds the first go round. Afro

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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 02:48:22 PM »

One thing that no one ever mentions about this film is the way it plays with Beatty's iconic image. When Eastwood/Schwarzenegger/Statham essay a role, they do so both as the particular character they're portraying but also as the persona they've adopted more generally. Eastwood is always Eastwood, no matter what name he's wearing in any given film. In Beatty's case, the persona he's known for is the one of the feckless lothario unable to commit to a woman. Anyone else playing Dick Tracy would have attacked the role differently. But because the plot calls for Tracy to be torn between two women--to really be undecided--and because Beatty is able to pull out of himself a performance similar (where the women are concerned) to the one he gave in Shampoo, he can use his iconic self to really add something to the picture. Of course, in the end, Tracy is able to commit--Beatty is able to tap into his persona just long enough for it to be of use to the film, and then he turns that persona on its head in further service to the picture. To my mind, this is up there (in kind, if not degree) with what Bogart does for In A Lonely Place, with what Wayne does for The Searchers, and with what Stewart does for Vertigo.

Good point and you can really see it in the performance.

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