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I remember when I first saw Dick Tracy back in 1990. I was 11 years old and was in awe of the film’s use of color. As I got older I learned to appreciate it more and felt they did such a good job of keeping that comic book style. From the characters to the costumes, it was truly a success.

Based off the 1930s comic, the story takes place in the city and revolves around a group of gangsters and of course Dick Tracy saving the day. Warren Beatty produced, directed, and starred in the film and had strong intentions for its design. Sticking close to the comic he wanted to only use the colors that graced the original pages while focusing on red, green, blue, and yellow. There was also a concentration on how the scenes were filmed so each were more like vignettes with everything happening in the same shot, this meant the camera was still for most of the movie.

The palette of Dick Tracy is elementary in some aspects but in this case, that’s a good thing. For me, it was one of the first on screen presentations that featured successful artistic development. Even if I was too young at the time to delve into its creative elements, I noticed how unique it was. It really felt like the comic book had come to life.

Color in Films: Dick Tracy