Sunday, July 19, 2009

WHAT IF... Dick Tracy co-starred Bernadette Peters instead of Madonna?

In a far more interesting universe, Bernadette Peters killed as Breathless Mahoney in the big-budget movie version of Dick Tracy.
Steve Palopoli once said Return of the Jedi directed by David Lynch--who rejected George Lucas' offer to direct the threequel--was one of his picks for Best Cult Movies That Don't Exist. I told Steve I would have loved to have seen Ragtime directed by the filmmaker who almost directed it, Robert Altman, Sergio Leone's Leningrad, Resident Evil directed by George Romero, The Phantom directed by Joe Dante and Blazing Saddles starring Richard Pryor instead of his replacement Cleavon Little (although Little was great as Black Bart).

Other movies from alternate universes I would have dug are Out of Sight co-starring Carla Gugino (the small-screen Karen Sisco) instead of Jennifer Lopez and Dick Tracy co-starring Bernadette Peters instead of Madonna.

Bernadette Peters' voice as the Blank would have been amusing. Notice how the Blank sounds like Christian Bale as Batman.
After rewatching Warren Beatty's suddenly ubiquitous Dick Tracy (it aired during TCM's Dick Tracy movie marathon yesterday afternoon and again on Syfy this morning because when I think sci-fi, I think Dick Tracy), I checked out film historian Glenn Erickson's DVD Savant review of the 1990 adaptation of Chester Gould's comic strip. I agreed with Erickson's comment on Madonna's performance as femme fatale Breathless Mahoney: "you can't help but picture Bernadette Peters in the role, singing better and being sexier too."

Peters, a frequent Stephen Sondheim interpreter, would have been perfect as Breathless, who sings several original Sondheim-penned tunes during Dick Tracy. But Peters wasn't banging Beatty at the time, so we were stuck with Madonna.

Bernadette Peters in Silent Movie
A better actress than Madonna (whose best performance was in her big-studio follow-up to Dick Tracy, A League of Their Own), Peters would have been more at ease than Madonna with the humorous side of the mostly humorless Breathless role. Plus, even though Peters is older, she's far more attractive (she's so hot in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie). I'm entertained by Peters' vocal skills--and how her dress barely stays on--during this taste of what Dick Tracy would have been like with Peters as Breathless. It's her performance of Dick Tracy's "Sooner or Later" from a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

"In this movie, this song was sung by a blond bombshell... not me," Peters says in my favorite part of her intro to "Sooner or Later." "Although we both have religious names."

Dick Tracy: Big City Blues by John Moore and Kyle Baker
If you can find Disney Comics' Star Trek: Countdown-style two-part prequel to Beatty's Dick Tracy, it's worth checking out. I remember buying as a kid the Dick Tracy: Big City Blues and Dick Tracy vs. the Underworld graphic novels, which were my first exposure to the art of then-rising star Kyle Baker. What I would give to see Baker's original cut of the prequel, before the famously narcissistic Beatty insisted on forcing Baker to redo the comics so that Dick's likeness would look more like Beatty than the Chester Gould version.

1 comment:

  1. "Peters wasn't banging at Beatty's door"
    No and at the time, Madonna was simply... banging him :P