Review Detail

9.0 4 10
dicktracynoir_front
FanFix June 01, 2021 1029
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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