Warren Beatty's adaptation of the detective comic strip displays a big-screen comic book look of its own. In a 1930s American city, Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino) takes a stranglehold on all underworld activities, disposing of his main rival Lips Manlis (Paul Sorvino) and nabbing his girlfriend Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). Dick Tracy (Beatty) is entrusted with the task of cleaning up the city, but problems on the home front, with the adoption of a young orphan, and the seductive come-ons of Breathless threaten to ruffle his composure.
A flawed but stylish adaptation of the Chester Gould comic strip by director Warren Beatty, who also stars in the title role. The minimalist plot involves a battalion of baddies who confront the intrepid detective in a series of strung-together vignettes. Al Pacino is a comedic if overblown standout as Big Boy Caprice and Madonna simply smoulders as aggressive blonde bombshell Breathless Mahoney. It matters not that the plot is Spartan, as this dazzling eye candy is much enhanced by Stephen Sondheim's songs, including the Academy Award-winning ditty, "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)". Beatty took his cue from the source material and concentrated on the relationships between these people, whether strained, romantic or hateful. The performances are subtle and more amusing than you would expect from such a visually bold picture. Shot in bright, primary colours, this also won Oscars for Best Art/Set Direction and Makeup (for those inventively hideous criminals). Watch for well-known names, such as Dustin Hoffman and Dick Van Dyke, in cameo appearances and supporting roles. --Rochelle O'Gorman