30 Year Anniversary: Catch Up With the Cast of Comic Book Crime Caper ‘Dick Tracy’
If Batman’s Gotham is 1930s New York through the looking glass, then Dick Tracy is Al Capone’s Chicago tripping on bad LSD. The yellow-coated detective predates the black cowl-wearing vigilante by almost a decade. In 1990, both characters finally got big Hollywood treatments. Tim Burton’s Batman launched a franchise. Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy feels more like a fascinating sociological time capsule.
Beatty directed and starred as the titular character. He cast his then-girlfriend Madonna as Breathless Mahoney. The singer is at her sexiest, and it’s actually one of her better cinematic turns. The rest of the cast is 100 percent top-notch, including Dustin Hoffman, Dick Van Dyke and, of course, Al Pacino. Pacino even got an Oscar nomination as Tracy’s archnemesis Big Boy. Though commercially successful enough, critical and audience reactions were mixed. Still, it’s worth watching for the makeup, pre-CGI special effects and cast alone. We catch up with where the crazy talented cast of Dick Tracy is 30 years later.
Photo: Touchstone Pictures
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Warren Beatty's decades-spanning, Oscar-winning career is apparently over, though we hope this Hollywood legend might come out of retirement for the right role someday. His wife Annette Bening is still making blockbusters, after all, even getting in on the Marvel money with a major role in last year’s Captain Marvel.
In 1990, Madonna was arguably at her peak artistically, in terms of popularity. She was absolutely radiant as Breathless Mahoney. She doesn’t act as much these days but still tours and releases music, though injuries forced her to cancel a growing number of stops on her current Madame X tour.
Glenne Headly played Tess Truehart, Tracy’s girlfriend, though you know the detective closed his eyes and thought of Madonna’s Breathless Mahoney every time he was with his good girl. Headly tragically passed in 2017 but filmed 2018’s Making Babies before her untimely demise.
Al Pacino’s performance as Big Boy ambles from masterly to maudlin, though you feel like he did the best he could with that absurd fake nose and mole growing like a cancerous bulge from his face. His feverish intensity hasn’t ebbed, with a stellar performance in 2019’s The Irishman and two films slated for release this year, plus his first turn on the small screen in the upcoming show Hunters from Amazon.
Hoffman hilariously steals every scene he’s in as Mumbles, a hapless tongue-tied criminal in Dick Tracy. More recently, Hoffman starred in Italian psychological thriller Into the Labyrinth (2019) and is in As Sick as They Made Us, a drama written and directed by Mayim Bialik of The Big Bang Theory fame.
Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke is one of those guys that always makes you smile, even when he’s a super annoying district attorney always busting Dick Tracy's balls about rights, the U.S. constitution and other trivialities. Van Dyke has been acting on screen for seven decades, including 2018’s Marry Poppins Returns, and is slated to appear in a comedy titled Capture the Flag, whose release date is still pending.
Kathy Bates's role as the perplexed stenographer during the hilarious Mumbles interrogation scene is but one example of the actor’s humor and timing. She brought her incredible presence to bear in a much more serious way for Clint Eastwood’s 2019 film Richard Jewell.
Charlie Korsmo, known more for his role in 1991's Hook, plays the most annoying character in this movie, the Kid. Korsmo doesn’t act much anymore, but he was in the 2018 film Chained for Life, a fascinating drama about an actress learning to work with deformed costars.
William Forsythe’s Flattop looks like the murderous doll Chucky all grown up. He plays another major creep, J. Edgar Hoover, in Amazon's series Man in the High Castle, and stars in I am Fear, a kind of horror spoof on ISIS beheading videos due out in March.
James Caan is one of the least deformed miscreants in Dick Tracy, and judging by his sprawling filmography, his agent never stopped coming through. He’s still acting a lot these days, with J.L. Ranch II released earlier this month, though Caan’s role as the titular character in the 2017 film Undercover Grandpa is our favorite of his recent screen appearances.