Movie: Dick Tracy
Release Date: June 15, 1990
Director: Warren Beatty
Starring: Warren Beatty, Madonna, Al Pacino, Glenne Headly, Charlie Korsmo, Charles Durning, Dick Van Dyke, Kathy Bates.
Tag Lines: “Their turf. Their game. Their rules. They didn’t count on his law…”
“I’m on my way.”
Relevance: If you know me or have been following this blog, you know that Madonna is a huge part of my life. I love her, her music, her videos, her philanthropy, her attitude, her humor and her films. As I always say, some people believe in God, I believe in Madonna. She has already made two appearances on my list of most influential movies of all time (see 215. Four Rooms and 177. Body of Evidence). ‘Dick Tracy’ marks her first film of six to show up in the top one hundred.
For me, ‘Dick Tracy’ was more than just a film, it was an era. It all started in March when Madonna released her single “Vogue.” It was part of her album, “I’m Breathless: Music From and Inspired by the Film Dick Tracy,” which was released on May 22nd that same year. The song and video, directed by David Fincher, became a cultural phenomenon on multiple levels. She had the world, especially me, dancing and voguing twenty-four/seven. In April, she started her now infamous and iconic “Blond Ambition World Tour.” I was living and breathing Madonna non-stop.
“Vogue” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week the full album was released. By that time I already had my “Blond Ambition” tickets for June 16th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was memorizing all of the lyrics to all of the songs on the album. I was still on a Madonna high and I saw no signs of coming down any time soon. The album was somewhat of a departure for Madonna as it showcased a more Broadway style side of her persona, a side the world was not yet familiar with. It eventually peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 200 and went double platinum in the United States. By the time the middle of June arrived, I knew every word and was excited not only to see her in concert but to see ‘Dick Tracy.’
The movie was released on June 15, 1990, the day before I saw her perform live in Philadelphia. A friend of mine from New York was going to the concert with me. My dad, mom and me drove to pick her up, of course listening to “I’m Breathless” the entire way. That night my friend and I went to see Breathless on the big screen. The movie was colorful, entertaining and so much fun. Madonna was blond, gorgeous and fabulous. Many people discredit her acting, but I will challenge those people to my dying day. She sank her teeth into this role and turned out a great, energetic performance. The movie received mixed reviews, but was a moderate success at the box office and garnered quite a few nominations during the following award season.
My ‘Dick Tracy’ weekend continued with a drive to Philadelphia to see my favorite blond perform on stage. She had canceled the night before due to illness and I was so nervous that she would not be able to perform for me. Thankfully, the show went on. But when we got to our seats, I was devastated. We were way, way high in the upper level, behind the stage. I was basically going to be in the same room with her, but only see glimpses of the back of her head or on a video screen. I was sitting in my chair, pouting with my arms folded when a gentleman approached us and asked if we wanted front row tickets. Huh? What? Excuse me? If you have seen Madonna’s film ‘Truth or Dare,’ one that will definitely be showing up on this list later this year, you know she only wanted fans in the front rows at her shows instead of critics, who seemed to be getting them from scalpers. So for most of her shows, she bought out the first two rows and made sure those people there were up, singing and dancing along with her. And I was one of them.
It was possibly the best, most incredible night of my life. I was in absolute heaven. How could I not be? I was literally ten feet away from my idol. The entire show I was standing on my chair, screaming and singing along to every song clutching the concert program and a flower that she touched. A fan had thrown a small bouquet to her that she quickly picked up and tossed off the stage to the security guard, who then distributed them to me and fans around me. As if that wasn’t already sublime, while Madonna sang “Sooner or Later,” a song from ‘Dick Tracy,’ she smiled at me. There was a point in the song where she was lying on a piano facing my way. I was in her direct line of vision. What she saw was an nineteen year old kid in floral shorts, a concert t-shirt and a painter’s hat screaming the lyrics to the song. She was probably laughing at my ridiculousness, but to me it was a smile. That moment was the greatest moment of my life, that is until 2012 when I got to shake her hand while she sang “Like a Prayer.”
So you see, ‘Dick Tracy’ is more than just movie to me, it is a whole series of glorious events that will forever be ranked as some of the best times of my life. I of course have owned the VHS and DVD of the film and have watched it countless times and those songs still play loudly every once in awhile on my iPhone. And most importantly, I still have that flower that she touched, pressed and enclosed in a Ziploc bag. Such wonderful memories all thanks to Breathless Mahoney and a little film called ‘Dick Tracy.’
Today’s Thoughts: “I know how you feel. You don’t know if you want to hit me or kiss me. I get a lot of that.”
Madonna is absolutely glorious in ‘Dick Tracy’ and although I have seen the film a gazillion times, I never get tired of it or her. I was more than excited to revisit the film and my terrific memories surrounding it again today.
Warren Beatty definitely created a world like we had never seen before back in 1990. Watching it today, it still looks and feels like you are watching a comic strip come to life. Some of the effects seem a little outdated, but the sets, costumes and makeup are still tremendous. The cast including Al Pacino, Glenne Headly, Charlie Korsmo, Charles Durning, Mandy Patinkin, Dick Van Dyke and Kathy Bates are simply delicious in their colorful, cartoonish roles. Catherine O’Hara as Texie Garcia, which if you blink you might miss her, even graces the screen, someone I didn’t even know was a part of this film until recently.
‘Dick Tracy’ is a clever, fun, colorful and entertaining film for the entire family. Even if you are not a fan of Madonna, shame on you, it is still a great way to spend two hours of your life. Now excuse me while I go listen to “Hanky Panky” and admire my pressed flower.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Richard Sylbert, Rick Simpson (winner), Academy Award for Best Makeup, John Caglione, Jr., Doug Drexler (winner), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man),” Stephen Sondheim (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Al Pacino (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Vittorio Storaro (nomination), Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Milena Canonero (nomination), Academy Award for Best Sound, Thomas Causey, Chris Jenkins, David E. Campbell, Doug Hemphill (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Al Pacino (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man),” Stephen Sondheim (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up Artist, John Caglione, Jr., Doug Drexler (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Richard Sylbert (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Al Pacino (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Milena Canonero (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Richard Marks (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Thomas Causey, Chris Jenkins, David E. Campbell, Doug Hemphill (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Al Pacino (nomination).
Ways to Watch: HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, DVD Availability.