The 2008 ‘Dick Tracy’ TV Special Is Highly Informative And The Weirdest Thing You’ll Watch Today
A few weeks ago, Matt Wilson and I watched Dick Tracy, the 1990 adaptation of the classic comic strip, directed, produced by and starring Warren Beatty. It's a pretty interesting movie, something that Beatty had wanted to do since the '70s that was clearly styled as a reaction to the success of Batman '89, a strange and ambitious project with a whole lot of fascinating flaws. But what's even stranger is the half-hour special that aired 18 years later, where Beatty reprised his role so that he could be interviewed, in character, by Leonard Maltin.
The special was only shown once on TCM in 2008, and while it's mainly a very informative history of movie adaptations of the comic strip, it gets really, really weird when Warren Beatty, as Dick Tracy, starts talking about how much he doesn't like Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy.
If you're interested in the character history, the whole thing's worth a watch. If, however, you just want to see the weird stuff, skip ahead to about 13 minutes in to the point where the 107 year-old Tracy starts talking about Beatty's version and starts listing off all the things he doesn't like about it --- namely that it's way too colorful and he couldn't get into the songs by "Sammy" Sondheim. It's genuinely hilarious, and may actually be a better bit of character acting than Beatty did in the movie itself.
As for why he didn't like it, well, maybe it's a matter of personal politics. As Tracy says (again, played by Warren Beatty), he and Beatty don't exactly see eye-to-eye.
"Well, he certainly doesn't seem to have a low opinion of himself, if you know what I mean, but I don't mind that. And I will say that, physically, the man looks surprisingly like me. I mean, surprisingly. But how similar we are to one another, that's a horse of another color.
"As you know, he's kind of public about running around being what I would call a knee-jerk liberal, and that's something I don't have a tremendous amount of patience for. I'm a conservative. I've never gotten to know the man, so I don't want to seem judgmental, okay?"
It's worth noting, as the special points out, that the 78-year-old Beatty is still planning on a sequel, having won a court case as recently as 2011 that allowed him to keep the film rights to the comic-strip lawman.
Also of note? Leonard Maltin makes sure to specify that Bill Finger co-created Batman, meaning that he is officially my favorite film critic.