January 27, 2023

Warren Beatty’s beloved comic-book adaptation celebrates its thirtieth anniversary

It may be hard to believe but Warren Beatty’s splendid comic book adaptation of Dick Tracy turns thirty this year. The movie was premiered at the Walt Disney World resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on June 14, 1990, and went on general release the day after.

Warren Beatty Dick Tracy

Boasting the acting talents of Warren Beatty, who pulled triple duty as the star, producer, and director the movie starred Al Pacino, Madonna, Glenne Headly, and Charlie Korsmo, and also featured extended cameos from screen legends Dick Van Dyke and Dustin Hoffman. The story follows the legendary comic strip detective who uses forensic science, advanced gadgetry, and his unrivaled wits in his relentless pursuit of mobsters – most notably the notorious crime boss Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino).

Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice - Dick Tracy

With its gloriously immersive comic-book style backdrop and a suitably pulse-pounding score from Danny Elfman, the movie was an absolute triumph. And it wasn’t by accident. Very early in the developmental stage, Beatty decided to make the film using a palette limited to just seven colors, primarily red, green, blue, and yellow—to evoke the film’s comic strip origins. Emphasizing the tone, each of the colors was to be exactly the same shade. Elfman, fresh off the back of a notable success with his score for Batman continued the trend and produced another sensational score which only enhanced the quality of the story unfolding on the screen.

Dick Tracy Comic Strip Style Palette

After receiving a surprisingly mixed reaction from critics at the time – the movie was recognized for its brilliance by the Academy. It amassed seven Academy Award nominations, winning in three of the categories: Best Makeup, Best Art Direction and Best Original Song for Stephen Sondheim’s “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” performed by Madonna.

Madonna - Dick Tracy

To this day, Dick Tracy stands as one of, if not the finest adaptation of a comic book property ever attempted. In his directorial brilliance, Beatty delivered a genuine and pleasingly atmospheric take on the property – and once heightened by the magnificent score from Danny Elfman fans of the character were treated to a true spectacle.

Warren Beatty - Dick Tracy

Clocking in at 105 minutes, the movie never outstays its welcome and the assault on Big Boy’s nightclub in the finale is the stuff of legend. So, if you’re looking for that perfect Sunday afternoon flick look no further than Warren Beatty’s glorious comic-book movie. Even though this year marks its thirtieth birthday the mileage certainly doesn’t show and the movie is as fresh today as it was then.

Happy Birthday, Dick Tracy.


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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter @philthecool where he uses the force and babbles frequently!


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