There always was something inbred about the Dick Tracy comic strip, some suggestion that all of its characters had been mutated by the same cosmic rays, and then locked together in a bizarre loony bin of crime. Tracy was the first comic strip I encountered after I outgrew funny animals, and what struck me was that the physical appearance of the characters always mirrored their souls, or occupations. They looked like what they were, and what you saw was what you got, from the square-jawed Tracy barking into his wrist radio, to Pruneface, Flattop and the others.
One week a month, Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases or premieres. This week: With the Academy Awards a few days away, we look back at some of the unlikeliest Oscar nominees, picking a different major category every day. In fact, the Academy has only allowed superhero movies out of the effects ghetto a handful of times.
Before comic-book movies ruled the box office, the genre was littered with one-offs Howard the Duck, The Rocketeer, The Shadow and franchises that are already being remade today Superman, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A star-packed callback to the glory days of trench-coat-clad crime fighters and a nostalgic confection set to the music of Stephen Sondheim, it was unafraid to not just nod, but fully lean on its roots as a two-dimensional story ripped right from the funny pages. As Tracy attempts to take down Big Boy and his wacky band of henchmen, he also has to juggle his relationship with the long-suffering Tess Trueheart Glenne Headlythe appearance of a sass-mouthed orphan Charlie Korsmoand the advances of one helluva dangerous dame Madonna.
All of these references are weaved into a thrilling tale that finds the maverick detective tipped for a desk job before Big Boy Caprice Al Pacinoa long time enemy of Tracy, takes over a large portion of organised crime in the city. A lifelong fan of the comic strip, Beatty had been offered the role whilst the rights were with Universal, but left following disagreements with Walter Hill, who was attached to direct at the time. However the reversion to Tribune Media Services offered Beatty the chance to option the rights himself, taking on the roles of director, producer and leading man. With the bold colours and the practical make-up effects work is still beautiful to look at and looks much younger than its twenty-four years.
Dick Tracy arrives from another era in comic-book filmmaking, when Hollywood viewed it all with a lot more skepticism than it does now. Marvel efforts were nowhere to be seen and DC rested everything on its two big pillars Batman and Superman to carry their cinematic fortunes. We saw The Shadow, The Mask, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and similar efforts rather than more traditional costumed heroes who dominate movie screens today.
The bold black headlines of The Daily Paper, which is what the daily paper is called, proclaim the dread details of the crime wave gripping the large city: ''Gangland Toughs Break Arms of News Dealer. If still small of scale, civil disorder mounts. Toughs also shatter the kneecaps of a shoeshine man.
Sign in. The multi-talented Edward Norton did some unique research to get his film and his character just right in Motherless Brooklyn. Watch now.
I didn't like the movie either. But Pacino obviously had fun with the role. Sometimes it's good to break out of the serious and take a role that is over the top.