Dick Tracy (1990, Disney, PG, $20), Warren Beatty's adaptation of the Chester Gould comic strip, has been given a Blu-ray upgrade and, boy, does it look beautiful.
Using a palette restricted almost entirely to primary colors, the film almost seems to shimmer, particularly the purple streets, the Kid's (Charlie Korsmo) red suit and Tracy's lemon-yellow overcoat. The episodic plot about the titular detective's (Beatty) determination to round up a handful of criminals (Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, James Caan, part-time Scranton resident Paul Sorvino) is still the film's biggest flaw. But Beatty, who once said the movie was about the fatigue that I felt with bachelorhood, was smart to put an emphasis on Tracy's personal life.
The best scenes involve Tracy seesawing between sexy nightclub singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) and longtime gal pal Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly).
The film's co-producer was Jon Landau, whose mother was Wilkes-Barre native Edythe Edie Rein. Landau, who has gone on to incredible success as James Cameron's producing partner on Titanic and Avatar, was just at the beginning of his film career when he oversaw this somewhat troubled production.
Among the problems: Sean Young, the original Tess Trueheart, needed to be replaced after Beatty saw her less-than-thrilling performance in dailies, and, off set, witnessed her rudeness to one of the child actors trying out for the role of The Kid.
Dick Tracy earned more than $100 million when it was first released, yet it was considered something of a failure.
Twenty-two years after its release, the movie succeeds as a Valentine to a long-gone era when the good guys were good and the bad guys were bad – and there were no shades of gray in-between.