Friday, June 10, 2011

Dick Tracy

I never was a fan of the Dick Tracy comic-strip when I was a kid nor did I much like the live-action movie released in 1990. I am, however, very interested in Warren Beatty, the film’s director and title character star, so I schlepped all the way out to Hollywood (a 50-minute drive during rush hour), Thursday night, to see a special screening of the movie, followed by an in-person Q&A with the otherwise elusive Mr. Beatty.

I was surprised to find myself actually enjoying the film. I couldn’t decide which star looked more gorgeous: Warren, who was then in his early 50s, or Madonna, who played the lounge singer Breathless Mahoney and was famously rumored to be Beatty’s real-life mistress at the time. The movie was eye-poppingly beautiful, shot in primary colors that evoked the look of the comic-strip. No wonder it won that year’s Oscar for art direction.

Warren emerged as soon as the film ended and immediately asked that the spotlight shining on him be dimmed so he could see the audience. He is notoriously cautious about speaking in public for fear his words will be taken out of context. Still, he was extremely talkative and answered audience questions well after the evening’s host, L.A. Times writer Geoff Boucher, finished his interview.

Beatty insisted the audience could ask him anything, but nonetheless declined to answer several questions. He teased us with news that he’s been thinking about a Dick Tracy sequel, yet refused to give any details. He talked about Bulworth, one of his more recent (and best) films about a politician running for office, but stopped short when he realized he was about to go into a political rant. He spoke affectionately of Ishtar, his biggest box office flop, and seemed quite thrilled at Boucher’s suggestion that it be shown as a follow-up L.A. Times event. His comments about movie ratings being obsolete in a world where kids see everything on the Internet were especially insightful.

Most interesting, though, was when he explained why he was attracted to Dick Tracy. He said he wanted to make a movie about a man who was ready to settle down and have a family. I’m sure I wasn’t the only pop-psychologist in the room who saw parallels to Beatty’s own life: as everyone knows, Warren met his future wife, Annette Benning, on the set of his next film, Bugsy, and quickly had four children together.

Click here to read Boucher’s review of the evening. And oh, by the way, Warren Beatty still looks pretty damn great.

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