Summer Blockbusters: My Obsession with Dick Tracy
In the summer of 1990 Dick Tracy fever hit the USA like crazy. A year prior, we were all struck hard by Bat-Mania, and the only thing to hold us over until a new Batman movie would be Dick Tracy, and it did way more than just “hold us over”. Dick Tracy had everything kids could want; a rouges gallery of weird villains, cool gadgets we all wanted, and an amazing costume we could all try to emulate.
My brother and I became obsessed with Dick Tracy. We wanted those wrist watch walkie talkies sooooo bad. We had the playmates toy version that had a flashlight where the speaker should be, and we also had the HUGE actual walkie talkie versions, that put a large walkie talkie on a watch band. There were not so practical to say the least, but we still strapped this big ole bastards to our wrists and stood the maximum distance of 10 feet away and talk to each other. There was only 1 problem, we were both Dick Tracy.
We had a few of the action figures made by Playmates. The good thing is, they were the same scale as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures so they fit well into each others universe. We would watch the ole timey Dick Tracy cartoons, and at the Walden Books, I found a clearance book of old Dick Tracy comic strips. It also was a picture book of old Dick Tracy merchandise, I would pour over it, wishing I had those cool toys from the 1950’s.
A couple months ago I posted a video of myself in full Dick Tracy regalia. This was my dad torturing me as I was immediately embarrassed that I was watching cartoons with my church overcoat and a plastic yellow fedora, but this is who I was then. I also had the Dick Tracy crime solvers “cosplay” kit which I was completely obsessed with.
The movie itself was amazing, the kid in the movie “Kid” was a surrogate for all of us, fighting crime along side our hero. Al Pacino played the main villain “Big Boy” Caprice and he was brilliant. Making a star turn in young RK’s eyes, Madonna played the role of Breathless Mahoney. She was fantastic in this role, and turned a singer whose music I didn’t care for into an actor playing a role I was obsessed with, mainly because *SPOILERS* she also played “The Blank”.
If you’ve never seen Dick Tracy, give it a try. It’s a film noir, comic book thriller that deserves a fresh look in an era that’s designed for a movie as fun as it was. It doesn’t have to be a remake, but it can tell a different story. The original Dick Tracy wasn’t an origin story, and a new one doesn’t have to be either. Give us weird villains, give us fun gadgets, and give us lots of cool colors and action.
I saw Dick Tracy at our local Drive-in theater (you can read more about that theater HERE), I don’t remember if we stayed for the second feature, but I know I was excited because Disney attached yet ANOTHER Roger Rabbit short in front of it.
One final note. Three years ago, I got an Apple watch when they first came out, and I still have that very one. I had it delivered to work, and when I put it on, my first text was from Squeezer saying “calling Dick Tracy”. I told this same story to Enchatress’ dad as he grew up wanting to be Dick Tracy as well, and it sold him on getting the watch. I had to return the favor that Squeezer gave me, and his first text was me saying”calling Dick Tracy”. A few weeks ago, Apple announced the new Apple Watch software would allow all watches to talk to each other in a walkie talkie fashion, bringing the dream of a true Dick Tracy wristwatch radio to life, for a span of generations that all grew up wanting to be their hero of that moment and hear those words “Come in Dick Tracy” come through on their wrist.
Do you have any good Dick Tracy memories? Let me know in the comments. And we’ll talk tomorrow on the Rad Years Summer Vacation