Help Support
« Shows

Dick Tracy

Sondheim wrote five songs for Warren Beatty's film Dick Tracy, which starred Madonna and Beatty. The film was a stylish romp through Tracyland, and was enhanced immeasurably by Sondheim's songs, which captured the period flavor of the movie perfectly. Beatty had originally asked Sondheim to score the picture in addition to writing the songs, but Sondheim wasn't interested (Danny Elfman eventually handled those chores).

Madonna had written a song called "Back in Business" for the montage sequence which followed the incarceration of Dick Tracy (when all the crooks come out and take over the city). However, no one was pleased with it and Beatty, with the pressure of a screening a month away, prevailed on Sondheim to write a new "Back in Business". In the song, Sondheim used words like "bang" and "boom" specifically to punctuate images of explosions and the like, although when the montage was finally edited it didn't exactly conform to his wishes.

"What Can You Lose?" is one of Sondheim's most beautiful creations for any medium - a rueful song about unrequited love, which came about because Beatty wanted a song for Mandy Patinkin, and he'd fallen in love with a line of dialogue Mandy had, which became the song's title.

"More" is a perfect example of Sondheim's trademark facility with words, and the music is brassy, sassy, and catchy. Listen to the very clever verse and see if you can catch all the quotes Sondheim used from optimistic ongs of the period.

"Sooner or Later" is a classic bluesy torch song and it won Sondheim an Academy Award.

- Bruce Kimmel Show Data

Original Film Production Info:

Released in USA 1990
Script Jim Cash
  Jack Epps Jr.
  Chester Gould
Produced by Silver Screen Partners IV
  Touchstone Pictures
Producers Warren Beatty
  Jon Landau
  Art Linson
  Floyd Mutrux
  Barrie M. Osborne
  Jim Van Wyck
Director Warren Beatty
Cinematography Vittorio Storaro
Songs Stephen Sondheim
Score Danny Elfman
Production Design Richard Sylbert
Costume Design Milena Canonero
Film Editing Richard Marks
Set Designer Eric Orbom

Original Film Cast:

Dick Tracy Warren Beatty
Kid Charlie Korsmo
Mr. Gillicuddy Michael O'Donnell
Stooge Jim Wilkey
Shoulders Stig Eldred
The Rodent Neil Summers
The Brow Chuck Hicks
Little Face Lawrence Steven Meyers
Flattop William Forsythe
Itchy Ed O'Ross
Tess Trueheart Glenne Headly
Soprano Marvelee Cariaga
Baritone Michael Gallup
Sam Catchem Seymour Cassel
Pat Patton James Keane
Chief Brandon Charles Durning
Reporters Allen Garfield
  John Schuck
  Charles Fleischer
Breathless Mahoney Madonna
88 Keys Mandy Patinkin
Lips Manlis Paul Sorvino
Lips' Bodyguard Robert Costanzo
Customer at Raid Jack Kehoe
Lips' Cop Marshall Bell
Doorman Michael G. Hagerty
Lefty Moriarty Lew Horn
Diner Patron Arthur Malet
Mike Tom Signorelli
Steve the Tramp Tony Epper
Big Boy Caprice Al Pacino
Numbers James Tolkan
Pruneface R.G. Armstrong
Mumbles Dustin Hoffman
Mrs. Green Kathy Bates
Lab Technicians Jack Goode Jr.
  Ray Stoddard
D.A. Fletcher Dick Van Dyke
Store Clerk Hamilton Camp
Cops at Tess' Ed McCready
  Colm Meaney
Texie Garcia Catherine O'Hara
Influence Henry Silva
Ribs Mocca Robert Beecher
Spaldoni James Caan
Bartender Bert Remsen
Judge Harper Frank Campanella
Club Patrons Sharmagne Leland-St. John
  Bing Russell
Bug Bailey Michael J. Pollard

Musical Numbers:

  • Back in Business
  • Live Alone and Like It
  • More
  • Sooner or Later
  • What Can You Lose?


    1. I'm Breathless - Madonna
      1990 Sire/Warner, 9 26209-2

    2. Sondheim at the Movies, 1997
      1997 Varese Sarabande, VSD-5805


  • 1990 Academy Awards

    1. Best Song - "Sooner or Later"


    Discuss this show in's community forum: Finishing the Chat... ››



    Recently Overheard...
    Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...”
    - Mark Bakalor

    Follow the thread...

    “I found [the Sondheim Celebration's Company] to be completely delightful. Almost all of the numbers excited and energized me, and most of the scenes were about as pitch-perfect as you can get. I just sat there with a big smile on my face the whole show.

    Which is not to say that it is perfect...”
    - popcornonmyknees

    Follow the thread...

    Explore the rest of the Finishing the Chat Community Forum

    Music, Books & More
    Elaine Stritch
    With three hand-held cameras, one major theatrical milestone and nearly nineteen hours of footage, this rare and intimate look with Original Cast Album - Company is a must for any Sondheim fan.

    DVD: $26.96
    VHS: $24.95

    One of Sondheim's most beloved works is sure to be Sunday in the Park with George, available on DVD, video tape, and CD.

    CD: $13.99
    DVD: $25.49
    VHS: $19.98

    Nathan Lane
    All Sondheim completists are sure to now own the first complete recording of The Frogs coupled with Evening Primrose. Do you?

    CD: $18.97

    Browse additional merchandise...


    © 1994-2004 hijinks design. All Rights Reserved. | Site design and hosting by hijinks design.