Sure, he was dating Madonna, but Warren Beatty’s life wasn’t perfect. The year was 1990. Beatty was coming off of Ishtar, a mega-flop and a rare misstep in a glorious career. The famous ladies’ man was still the portrait of Hollywood glamour — again, dating Madonna — but before Ishtar, he hadn’t made a film since 1981’s epic Reds. He turned to a curious labor of love: an adaptation of Dick Tracy, a 60-year-old comic strip about a lantern-jawed detective who fights magnificently ugly criminals. The timing was perfect: Tim Burton’s Batman came out the year before Tracy, and set a gold standard for comic book adaptations, merchandising, blockbuster promotion, and generally making a boatload of money off of comic-based movie with a tweaked approach to set design. Lest you doubt the connection, the two movies share a nearly identical Danny Elfman score. (Seriously, the dude just Xeroxed his Batman sheet music and made a couple changes.) With all this in mind, and in honor of this week’s release of two other movies directed by actors (Ben Affleck’s The Town and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Jack Goes Boating), we discuss that crime-busting, yellow-coated man with the two-way radio watch, Dick Tracy.
Darren Franich: This might be the most Oscar-heavy cast ever assembled for a comic film. There’s Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Kathy Bates as a stenographer. The film’s shot by Vittorio Storaro, who won Oscars for Apocalypse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor. Throw in Dick Van Dyke, Madonna, and the original songs by Stephen Sondheim, and Dick Tracy officially has a team EGOT.
Keith Staskiewicz: And for the first time, Al Pacino really plays an outsize caricature of himself, which he then carried with him throughout the following 20 years. All of the mannerisms are there: sudden outbursts, table slapping, a permanent scowl. It’s like he’s wearing a Halloween mask of himself, which ended up melding to his face and becoming the real Al Pacino. READ FULL STORY