Dick Tracy

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1990 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 100:50 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Warren Beatty

Warner Home Video
Starring Warren Beatty
Case Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Danny Elfman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No

Plot Synopsis

    Dick Tracy is the big screen adaptation of the animated series of the same name. Warren Beatty plays Dick Tracy, a detective in a town overrun by mobsters, led by Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino). Dick has a girlfriend, Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly) whom he had great difficulty in popping the question to, and he seems to have adopted a street urchin who calls himself Kid (Charlie Korsmo).

    Embroiled in all the action is Big Boy Caprice's girlfriend, Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) who fancies Dick Tracy.

    The story doesn't really get much beyond the stereotypical good guy vs bad guy movie, but that is the nature of its origin and it remains true to form. It is predominantly shot in bright primary and secondary colours and retains an animated comic book feel. If you don't critically analyse the plot, it is a visually and aurally entertaining piece of filmmaking.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is excellent, especially considering the fact that the film was first released in 1990.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was sharp and clear throughout, except for the odd amount of motion blur here and there. Shadow detail was generally quite good, but some scenes were a little lacking, such as the movie's climax which could have had more detail in the shots. There was no low level noise apparent.

    The colours were strong and vibrant, consistent with the overall feel of the movie. Generally, the very large splashes of red, green and blue were perfectly rendered, though on rare occasions, there was a small amount of chroma noise apparent in the reds, and very occasionally the reds tended to bleed a little. This tended to happen early on in the movie, and this problem seemed to settle down as the movie progressed.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a minor amount of aliasing on one shot of some venetian blinds, but no other artefacts of this type were seen. Film artefacts were surprisingly rare and virtually unnoticeable.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There is a minor pop in the audio at 5:05.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The musical score was by Danny Elfman and is in his usual quite whimsical style - eminently suited to the over-the-top imagery of this movie. Additionally, Stephen Sondheim composed a number of the more sophisticated songs in the score which were performed by Madonna. These were excellent and well in keeping with the overall feel of the movie.

    The surround channels were used reasonably aggressively during this movie, with music and special effects placed throughout the soundfield. The overall effect was one of a nicely enveloping soundtrack.

    The .1 channel was used nicely to support the action sequences and to support the music. It was very well integrated into the overall soundtrack.


    There are no extras on this disc. The Amaray case has a small sheet which lists chapter stops, but this is it.

What's Missing / What's Extra

    This disc is not yet available in Region 1, and it is unlikely to be 16x9 enhanced when it does come out.


    The main menu is plain and functional. It is 16x9 enhanced.


    Dick Tracy is a deliberately over-the-top movie - enjoy it for the excellent visuals and the great music. Don't try to critically analyse the story or else your brain will worry itself unnecessarily about such things as the implausibility of the film's outcome.

    The video quality is very good, especially considering the age of the movie.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras nil

© Michael Demtschyna
29th July 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer