Dick Tracy - The Noir Edit

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Faneditor Name:
Tagline:
Bad Movies Made Less Bad Presents:
The Comic Strip Icon Recut for More Maturity - with a Little Help from Miles Davis
Original Movie Title:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
1990
Original Running Time:
106
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
89
Subtitles Available?
Available in HD?
Brief Synopsis:
As an adult I have never felt a ton of love for due to the outrageous color scheme, and the makeup fx were always downright nuts to me as well. Its amazing that this came out the year after the first Burton Batman movie - its a complete ripoff, blasphemous in retrospect really. I can't believe I didn't notice back then it was THIS similar to the Batman. Hindsight is 20/20.

But I was amazed at how I could actually appreciate everything in this movie without all the color - even the makeup isn't quite as bad - it seems like THE PERFECT movie that a Young Bruce Wayne would have watched. There are so many similarities to Batman, besides of course the Elfman soundtrack: Big Boy seems like a hybrid of the Joker and the Penguin, Dick Tracy seems like Batman if he were a cop, the "Kid" is basically Robin. Elliot Ness similarities, sure, but this is a superhero before there were superheroes. Its so weird how much this copies and tries to be a prequel. I don't think I noticed before with all the color and ridiculous makeup. But it also hit some pretty iconic "noir" beats too.

Main Changes:

• B&W

• More noir vibes, more adult focus. Tracy edited to have a bit more confidence, less doubt, except when it comes to women.

• Original songs trimmed when the narrative allows, Miles Davis added where possible.

• Removed excess shots of bad makeup.

• Lots of dumb lines removed or edited for pacing.

• Big Boy lines are trimmed to seem darker and more menacing, less of a parody.
(That worked well for a while. Then, he had a few jokes that landed that I couldn't remove. So Big Boy starts off more menacing, but I let Pacino off the leash after a while.)

...
Intention:
To uncover a solid (in slightly basic) detective story beneath the color and music distracting original that hasn't aged well.
Additional Notes:
Subtitle file available
Other Sources:
Miles Davis tracks from "Ascenseur pour l'échafaud" and a cover track of the Love Theme from Chinatown (1974)

...
Special Thanks:
Thanks to @revel911, @bionicbob, @addiesin, @Zagadka, @revstevens, @Darth Kermit , @Scar, @MusicEd921 who provided valuable feedback, great music ideas and better tools for music removal, and also @Elby, @Last Impressions , @Workshed, @J_Scarp1273 for the motivating feedback! All of you have helped make this edit so much better than I initially planned.

...
Release Information:
Digital
Special Features
Subtitle file available
Editing Details:
Main Changes:

• B&W

• More noir vibes, more adult focus. Tracy edited to have a bit more confidence, less doubt, except when it comes to women.

• Original songs trimmed when the narrative allows, Miles Davis added where possible.

• Removed excess shots of bad makeup.

• Lots of dumb lines removed or edited for pacing.

• Big Boy lines are trimmed to seem darker and more menacing, less of a parody.
(That worked well for a while. Then, he had a few jokes that landed that I couldn't remove. So Big Boy starts off more menacing, but I let Pacino off the leash after a while.)
Cuts and Additions:
• New B&W Grade added.

• Intro music and radio voiceover replaced with "Générique" (Miles Davis) with some foley added as it fades.

• Shots of Little Face removed.

• Shots of Dick and Tess inside the Theatre removed.

• Removed some of Tess and Dick dialogue leaving theatre.

• Shortened Breathless song.

• Tightened Flattop arresting Lips and Breathless

• Tightened Tess and Dick dialogue outside the diner.

• Tightened Dick fight in the slums and Kid's reaction time.

• Tightened up Big Boy's encounter with Lips.

• Removed Dick's hesitation in diner.

• Removed close up shot of Dick stiring a can of beans.

• Tightened Dick's witness-badgering.

• Shortened Mumbles interrogation.

• Removed some of Big Boy's rehersal to highlight his menacing nature and avoid the slapstick.

• Tightened Dick's arrest of Big Boy.

• Reedited Dick and Breathless's first meeting and rescored it with "Le Petit Bal #Take 2" (Miles Davis)

• Tightened Dick returning home

• Tightened Big Boy leaving jail

• Reedited Dick and Breathless's second meeting in dick's office and rescored it with "Chez le Photographe du Motel" (Miles Davis) with some foley added as it fades.

• Tightened Big Boy's proposal with the bosses for more menace, less attributing where the quotes came from.

• Tightened Big Boy's kidnapping and attempted murder of Dick Tracy for more menace, less sillyness.

• Removed Dick and Kid discussion about Dick's badge after the certificate ceremony.

• Tightened Dick and Breathless metting at Dicks appartment, removed the kiss and rescored with "Julien Dans l'Ascenseur (Miles Davis)"

• Tightened No Face's dialogue with 88 Keys.

• Tightened Bog Boy's dialogue with 88 Keys.

• Removed Dick saying "reload" to himself when covered in cement.

• Removed Breathless and 88 Keys Duet and rescored with a cover of the Love Theme from Chinatown.

• Removed Tess asking her mother to repeat herself.

• Tightened Dick and Kids orphanage discussion

• Tightened Dick being drugged and framed.

• Removed 88 Keys laughing goofily.

• Tightened the second Mumbles interrogation scene and the following car ride discussion.

• Tightened New Years Eve Party scenes for more directness, less silliness. (left the weight joke.)

• Added old timey car horn foley.

• Tightened Big Boy escape with Tess.

• Tightened Big boy and Dick scene inside drawbridge tower.

• Tightened Breathless reveal and rescored with "Séquence Voiture #Take 1" (Miles Davis) with some foley added as it fades.

• Shortened final "The End" shot

• Rescored credits with "Générique" (Miles Davis)

User reviews

3 reviews
Overall rating
 
8.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.7(3)
Visual Editing
 
9.7(3)
Audio Editing
 
8.7(3)
Narrative
 
9.0(3)
Enjoyment
 
8.3(3)
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Overall rating
 
9.2
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Oh, Dick Tracy. A movie that's quite difficult to evaluate due to being completely at odds with itself. It never really decides if it wants to be Batman '66 or Batman '89 (seems to be aiming for the latter but with the villains from the former), with a very comic booky style in the visuals and in the characterizations of the prosthetic-heavy villains, but with Warren Beatty's ego apparently preventing him from subjecting himself to the same treatment and wearing Tracy's famous square nose. He just plays him as Warren Beatty in a yellow hat and coat (incidentally I always though that James Caan, who has a small gangster role in the movie, would have been a much better choice for Tracy). On the other hand one wishes that the bad guys had been played by actors whose physique naturally suggested the comic strip characters' features instead of going the goofy prosthetics route, but guess Beatty was more interested in casting stars than the right actors. Oh, well. But at least the movie is nice to look at and has some really beautiful shots here and there.

And then we get to this edit. Which is gorgeously executed, but in a way reproduces the same main problem with the theatrical cut: it's at odds with itself.

Cut-wise, of course, it's a huge improvement over the official cut, with lots of silly stuff thankfully gone (though I would have wished that a few more Big Boy lines towards the end had been cut). In that respect, it's an instant replacement disc. And the editing itself is pretty much flawless, and even includes a happy accident or two: in some of the segments in which the original score was removed, the dialogue suddenly acquires a retro quality that makes it sound a lot like a classic film (most noticeable in the diner scene with Charles Durning, Tracy, and the Kid). One even wishes the same filter was applied to the whole dialogue track. Video and audio quality is fine all through, even if it shows some very slight pixelation in the darkest areas sometimes, most likely an unavoidable side effect of the color tweaking.

Then, we get to the "noir-ization" part: the movie does generally look great in black and white, and some of the shots are just plain gorgeous this way (particularly those city landscapes against the sky), but then we suddenly get to the villains and we are reminded that we are watching a goofy comic strip, which makes us mentally shift to missing the colors. These guys feel like intruders in this film noir. And, needless to say, the added Miles Davis score is completely wonderful, but at the same time it might be "too" wonderful for this movie. It feels way more serious than the material it's accompanying. I was shifting the whole running time between considering it perfect and considering it out of place, sometimes both at once. What I would have chosen not to include is the Chinatown theme, because it's readily identifiable, and from an inmensely superior film at that, which kinda makes one think they should be watching that one instead. To quote MST3k, "never put a good movie in your bad movie".

But at the same time I enjoyed the ride a lot, and admire the bold experimental factor of it. I will much sooner rewatch this than the theatrical cut. Recommended for anyone who enjoys both film noir and pulpy/comic-strip-y narratives, as I do.
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Overall rating
 
8.7
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
9.0
Audio Editing
 
8.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
Sometimes it is nice to be wrong.

Way back in the early days of the Forum, there was much discussion of fan edit ideas for Dick Tracy, and at the time, I was not convinced a Black & White edit would work because the Primary Colour Scheme seemed so integral to style of the movie.

But Wakeupkeo has happily proven me wrong.

The alternation to Black & White, accompanied by the Miles Davis score, has given this Disney flick a whole new entertaining spin and tone.

Unlike Wakeupkeo, I do not think the original Dick Tracy was a Bad Movie. I absolutely loved the Primary Colours Design and the practical make up prosthetics. To me, it looked like the old comic strip jumped off the page into the real world. I still think it is an incredible accomplishment. To me, the big issue with the original movie was narrative and pacing.

But this edit masterfully corrects this, cutting I think over 10 minutes. Never once did I look at my watch while watching or notice anything significant missing. Well done.

As someone who has experimented with Black & White conversion with mixed results, I know how challenging it is and truly appreciate the hard work that went into this project. For the majority of the film, the Black & White looks very good. There are couple scenes (usually night scenes) where the flesh tones look off, almost like a muddy grey, such as when Tracy is on the roof before jumping through the skylight. Also, scenes where there is strong hot white light source, occasionally betrays the new Black & White reality.

The new Miles Davis score, which is essentially now Breathless's theme music, is wonderful and completely changes the tone and subtext of every scene it is used in. I loved it. I wish the entire Elfman score could have been replaced with even more Davis! There are a couple minor instances of original score spill, but technology like Vocal Remover can only do so much. There was only once scene where I felt the Davis score should have lasted longer, when Breathless meet Trudy for the first time.... the sudden fade out of the Davis score to be replaced by the background radio felt really out of place. To me, the Davis score should have continued until Breathless exited the scene.

With score replacement, comes the task of adding foley sound fx, and again for the most part this was done exceptionally well. Though I thought the added footfalls for Tracy in the end rooftop scene were too loud while the fireworks were too quiet.

All and all, a solid technical achievement and fascinating new noir narrative.

Good stuff!
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(Updated: September 02, 2021)
Overall rating
 
8.4
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
8.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
8.0
A great edit by a fantastic editor. Only a few small audio problems here and there due to the channels being muddy, so I understand the odd bits and pieces that couldn’t be helped. But overall a fantastic edit. The black and white and added Miles Davis tracks from Elevator to the Gallows really worked wonderfully to aid the trimmed narrative and better characterization into a fun noir, despite the horrendous makeup.

User Review

Do you recommend this edit?
Yes
Format Watched?
Digital
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