Saturday, February 21, 2009

Movie Review: Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy
Rated PG
4 Slimes
Copyright Touchstone Pictures 1990


Dick Tracy: Warren Beatty! He’s our hero that wears a yellow suit and yellow fedora. His main enemy is Big Boy Caprice and will do everything he can to stop him. He’s also a bit engrossed in his job so much that he seems to forget about other people. He’s a monster when he is in control of a tommy gun.

The Kid: He has no name, but he has a bottomless stomach. Really, I never seen a person put away so much food and not get fat. Even Garfield has shown his weight after eating too much occasionally. He becomes Dick Tracy’s sidekick at the end of the film and takes the name Dick Tracy Jr. as well.

Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice: Al Pacino! He’s got a big chin and he is nasty. He’s the main mob boss of the entire city and will do anything to keep it that way. He has a habit of quoting famous people and acts pretty strange for a mob boss. He falls to his death in the end of the movie. You know, the typical way a villain meets his or her end in a lot of movies.

Breathless Mahoney: Madonna! She’s a sight for sore eyes, isn’t she? She’s a good singer who just can’t seem to catch a break. Especially the way she keeps bouncing between mob employers and everything. She’s one of the few people who has seen Big Boy’s crimes and might be willing to testify against him, but she prefers to try to seduce Tracy. She’s shot to death by Big Boy.

Tess Trueheart: She’s Dick Tracy’s girlfriend and only person he seems to have an attachment to, besides The Kid and his two detective partners. She’s also your typical damsel in distress near the end of the film.

Flattop: William Forsythe! Whoa boy… he looks like one of the Garbage Pail Kids, with a lot less makeup on, and is so cool. He’s an assassin for Big Boy and shows no mercy towards his victims. Dick pumps him full of lead near the end of the film.

Itchy: His voice sounds like a cross between a little kid whining and Rick Moranis. He always hangs out with Flattop and goes where he goes. Like Flattop, he’s blown way by a stream of bullets delivered by Dick.

88 Keys: Mandy Patinkin! He’s a piano player at Club Ritz who works with Breathless. He strikes it big when The Blank offers him a chance to gain some money from Big Boy’s shady dealings. He’s arrested at the end.

The Blank: A mysterious figure whose motives aren’t that clear. He or she saves Dick Tracy from certain death, but who helps get him arrested. I was quite surprise by who this person was in the end.

Pruneface: R.G. Armstrong! His name says it all… maybe he should see a doctor or something about his facial condition? He’s shot to death by The Blank.

Mumbles: Dustin Hoffman! I don’t know why anyone bothers interrogating him, it’s not like anyone understands him. Interestingly enough, he’s the only mobster who isn’t killed in this film.

Numbers: James Tolkan! He’s just Big Boy’s accountant, but he makes enough appearances to be worth mentioning. I’m not sure, he might have been gunned down near the end of the film, but I don’t think he was.

District Attorney Fletcher: Dick Van Dyke! He’s a corrupt official who’s on Big Boy’s payroll. The Blank puts him down with two bullets so he or she can frame Dick Tracy.

Influence: Henry Silva! I’ll save you the trouble; he’s the monkey face guy in the green suit. He’s gunned down while trying to escape Club Ritz in the end of the film.

+ Gangsters are strangely deformed or have speech impairments.
+ Police detectives and gangsters wear bright and vibrant colors.
+ Some tommy guns have unlimited ammo.
+ Some vehicles can easily explode after being peppered full of bullets, while others can’t.
+ Garage door openers existed back in the 40s.
+ The Bath is enough word for having cement poured on top of you.

6 min – That can’t be healthy.
15 min – What’s the point of talking to Mumbles? You can’t understand him.
24 min – Will you stop quoting people?
28 min – You’re pretty calm for being involved in a drive by.

51 min – That’s a cool building!
55 min – What an uppercut!
60 min – Was that the Question?
73 min – Who carries that much change?
77 min – Again, why talk to Mumbles?
83 min – Hey, you left your friend in a room he can’t get out of!
85 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE ENTIRE MOB EMPIRE!88 min – How did he know that they would be there?
94 min – I’ve seen this happen before.

Big Boy Caprice: Don't tell me about my boys messin' up the Tracy rub-out. They were being tested, they flunked. Now they're just flunkies, like you! I don't care if Tracy puts one and one together, don't matter to me. You're still workin' for me. You're on my side. You're not out! You're *not* out! When you are dead, then you are out! You are mine, I own you!

Itchy: Thirty seconds, no more Dick! Thirty seconds, no more Dick!

Breathless Mahoney: Thanks for calling. I was beginning to wonder what a girl had to do to get arrested.
Dick Tracy: Wearing that dress is a step in the right direction.


When you see a comic book movie, it’s always depicted to look like it would take place in the real world, besides Frank Miller movies. However, there was a comic book that defied all comic book movies set before it and took a different approach then any other film of its genre. That movie is Dick Tracey. It has the best atmosphere, setting, characters… you know what? Let’s get into the review first before I go on a rant about how much I liked this movie.

The film opens up with us meeting the Kid, who is looking for some food in a garbage can. He ducks inside of a building, when he sees two cops walking about, and he spies a bunch of gangsters playing poker I assume. Suddenly, Flattop and Itchy, two mob assassins, crash through the door and pepper the group of mobsters in a hail of Tommy gun bullets. Dick Tracy is called in to investigate the massacre and is wearing a strange yellow raincoat. He believes it’s the work of Alphose “Big Boy” Caprice, who hired the two assassins to wipe out the mobsters.

Later that day, we find Breathless Mahoney performing at Lips Manlis’ Club Ritz. They are soon kidnapped by Big Boy who forces Lips to sign over the deed to the club, since he is extending his territory of the city. Then Big Boy gives Lips the “Bath” and makes Breathless his ‘girlfriend’. Good for her, she moved from a disgusting pig to an abusive bull.

Somehow, the police and Tracy find Lips’ body and immediately suspect Big Boy, with good reason as well. Tracy interviews Itchy, Flattop, and Mumbles (I question why they bother talking to him, but whatever), which all work for Big Boy, but they provide him with nothing. Either way, Tracy goes ahead and arrests Big Boy while he tries to get some evidence on the mob boss. He also questions Breathless if she knows anything, which she does but she won’t say anything and instead flirts with him.

During all of this, Dick Tracy and his girlfriend, Tess Trueheart, run into The Kid and decide to take him until he can go to an orphanage, since his previous caretaker is well… a giant troll from what I can tell. Soon, enough the three of them become like there own little family. It is a pleasant and warm feeling watching these scenes.

Due to lack of evidence, Big Boy is released from lockup and is back doing what he was doing before. Tracy decides to follow him after his release and soon discovers that he is holding a large meeting with every other mob and gang leader in the town. What he does not hear is that Big Boy trying to rally them all together to form one large crime organization in which they hope to take over the town.

Big Boy’s next plan of action is trying to get Tracy on his payroll. The next day, he has him kidnapped by the dynamic evil duo of Flattop and Itchy. Big Boy offers him a lot of play money… I mean money to him in exchange for his services and dedication to him. Tracy obviously refuses and Big Boy swears he’ll regret this. He tries having him blown up, but The Kid rescues him in the nick of time.

Dick Tracy again tries to get Breathless to testify against Big Boy, but she says she’ll only do that if he gives in to her tempting offers. He refuses again. He then has one of his men place a bug in Big Boy’s office during a large party at Club Ritz, so he can listen in on all of the big deals going on now.

Using this method, he is soon able to take out a large amount of the mobsters in the area, leaving Big Boy almost penniless. During this time, a mysterious figure known as The Blank approaches 88 Keys, a piano player at Club Ritz, and offers him a chance to gain some money. He gives him an envelope that he should deliver to Big Boy, which says that if he gives 88 Keys 10 percent of whatever earnings the mob gets, The Blank will take care of Dick Tracy for him without killing him so that Big Boy isn’t suspected. Of course, Big Boy doesn’t believe this and I personally wouldn’t believe it either.

With so much of his money drying up, one of the mob bosses, Pruneface, wants to rub out Dick Tracy, but Big Boy doesn’t want to. Both of them then discover the bug in the office and decide to lay a trap for Tracy. Tracy goes to this warehouse upon hearing a fake deal where he is almost killed by Pruneface and Influence, one of Big Boy’s grunts. The Blank then appears and kills Pruneface while Influence escapes.

Tracy runs into more bad luck as Tess leaves him, after she sees Breathless seducing him when he was trying to get her to testify. After a while, Tess has a change of heart and decides to come back to him, but The Blank kidnaps her. While this is going on, Big Boy agrees to pay 88 Keys the money and lets him try to get rid of Dick Tracy with Blank. 88 and Blank then set up Tracy for the murder of District Attorney Fletcher, putting him behind bars. With him out of the picture, Big Boy and his gang begin to rise back to power in the city. Wow, there is so much going on in one movie!

As Dick Tracy is about to be taken to county lockup, his colleagues decide to spring him from jail so that he can try to get back at Big Boy and find Tess. He once again interrogates Mumbles, who surprisingly is able to tell him everything in normal language, instead of his usual incompressible speech. However, Mumble’s testimony is not needed since The Blank has now set up Big Boy for kidnapping by placing Tess inside of Club Ritz and informing the police chief of her location.

Big Boy learns of this set up and has his men get ready to leave the place, guns a blazing because now the whole place is surrounded by the cops and Dick Tracy, who has arrived as well. The mob members try to leave the place in their cars as they fire wildly at the cops with their Tommy Guns. This doesn’t work of course and Flattop, Influence, Itchy, and possibly Numbers, another crony, are all gunned down by Dick Tracy and the cops. The police then arrest 88 Keys and Dick Tracy takes off after Big Boy, who has fled with Tess.

He chases them down in the gear room of a drawbridge, where finds that Big Boy has tied Tess to a gear. The Blank soon shows up and holds both men at gunpoint. He offers Tracy the chance to kill Big Boy, so that he and The Blank can rule the city. Big Boy manages to shoot Blank, but then he is then thrown into the gear shaft of the room by Tracey, where he mostly likely dies.

Tracy unties Tess and unmasks Blank, only to discover that it was Breathless all along. She confesses that she wanted to help him take down Big Boy herself before dying. A few days later, Dick Tracy is cleared of Fletcher’s murder, after 88 Keys tells everyone what really happened. Tracy decides to propose to Tess, but is interrupted in the middle of his speech when a bank robbery is reported to him. He promptly heads off to the scene of the crime, with The Kid tagging along. This a bit odd to me since I thought all the gangsters were killed earlier. Who could’ve robbed the bank anyways? Mumbles? It’s not like there is anyone else left.

This had to be one of the best comic book adaptations ever. It had great atmosphere, comic book style visuals that made you feel like you were watching a comic come to life, an awesome soundtrack by Danny Elfman and Madonna, and a great cast. A lot of people have criticized the story, but I like it because it feels like it’s a bunch of comic books strung together. It’s like the opening scene and the scene where Tess is kidnapped are separate comics and we see them blended together into the movie. This is a great comic book movie you should not miss! It’s got a style like Sin City, but without the obsessive amount of extreme violence & mature themes and that it was made so many years earlier.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more! I have always thought this was one of the best comic book adaptations as well. It really kept a "comic book feel" without being condescending. Great review! -- Mykal