Dick Tracy was Warren Beatty’s ode to Chester Gould’s comic strip, a sharp, colorful world populated with handsome good guys, strange-looking bad guys, vampish vixens and damsels in distress. The film seemed like it had been actually set in a comic strip, thanks to the bright, bold set design, along with costumes and makeup faithfully translated from the printed page.
Warren Beatty stars as Dick Tracy, the square-jawed, yellow-suited lawman who fights and disposes of his city’s villains with ease. The mobsters, tired of always being sent to the big house by Tracy, decide to band together and rid themselves of him once and for all. But Dick Tracy has other problems at the moment. He has recently met an orphan named The Kid that he grudgingly cares for, but is not sure he can be the father The Kid needs. Also, his relationship with his girlfriend, Tess Trueheart, is strained because he devotes more of his time to crime fighting than he does to her.
And then there’s Breathless. Pop superstar Madonna plays the seductive Breathless Mahoney, a beautiful and blond nightclub singer reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe. She has her eye on Tracy, and despite his better judgment, he finds himself increasingly drawn to her. Tracy must find a way to fight the corruption overtaking the city and come to terms with his complicated personal life.
Dick Tracy featured an impressive array of cameos, including Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice and Dustin Hoffman as the mumbling Mumbles. Beatty infused Tracy with a surprising quality of vulnerability-shown through his relationship with The Kid and Tess’-that is not often explored in one-dimensional comic strip heroes. In fact, beyond the car chases, explosions and gunfights that made Dick Tracy a kid’s paradise, the film also had heart.
Dick Tracy received seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Al Pacino. It won three awards, for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup and Best Song for Steven Sondheim’s jazz-tinged “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man).”