18 February 2009

DVD: "Dick Tracy"

Dick Tracy
Directed by Warren Beatty
Screenplay by Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr.
Based upon characters created by Chester Gould
Starring: Warren Beatty
DVD Release Date: 1 September 2003
MPAA Rating: PG
List Price: $9.99
Cinescopes Personality Types: Courageous Detective, Passionate Maverick

The Film
I've already blogged about seeing a midnight screening of this for its 18th anniversary last year, which you can read here.  This is a big screen, big budget film based on Chester Gould's famed comic strip detective.  Tracy is determined to nab "Big Boy" Caprice (Al Pacino), and Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) and Tess Trueheart (Glenn Heady) are just as determined to win over the detective's affections.  Tracy only has room in his heart for Tess, but only has room in his schedule for his pursuit of Caprice--and Breathless is a key witness he needs.  It's a love triangle amid a gang war.  The four-color production design, costumes, wardrobe and sets are all top-notch and rightly won a few Academy Awards.  The soundtrack is full of period-sounding songs, even though they were all written newly for this film, and Danny Elfman's score is superb.  Madonna has her detractors, but as far as I'm concerned, there is no one else who could have bested her in this role.

Rumors have persisted for years of a deluxe DVD treatment being prepped by director Beatty, including many deleted scenes, commentary tracks, making-of featurettes, etc.  Unfortunately, to date this is the only edition that has been released and it is devoid of any of those things; there isn't even one of the numerous original trailers or TV spots.  Fans of the film will be disappointed by the complete absence of such materials, of course, though for now this barebones release will have to suffice.

The Recommendation
Dick Tracy is a large production in the old school sense, from a large cast of A-listers (Beatty, Pacino, Madonna, Dustin Hoffman, James Caan) to a soundtrack so large it warranted three separate releases (Elfman's score, Madonna's songs and the various artists who recorded source material).  Beatty allegedly learned to read by sitting on his father's lap and going over the Gould comic strips in the newspaper, and his devotion to the original characters shines through.  This was a labor of love, and it's great fun.

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