The luxuriant visual style of Lady of Burlesque (which so decisively influenced Fellini) is brought to bear to some degree on the final shots of Dick Tracy vs. Cueball, in a comic-book-style formulation of expanding personal responsibilities in a well-photographed New Orleans.
The work describes an equation on an elaborate scale. It may be stated as simply as this: the whoremaster and the feminist are one.
Out of Bounds
Anthony Michael Hall (whom Ebert considered good in Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club) plays an Iowa farm boy who drives a tractor with his good dog, while his yahoo coevals whisk along the highway raucously in a pickup truck.
He comes to Los Angeles and there’s a mix-up at the baggage counter anticipating Frantic. Our farm boy (as Jean Arthur sings it in Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, “we are from IIIIIII-o-way!”) finds himself on the bottom of a cesspit comprising drug corruption in L.A. and the bargain-basement retro subculture that goes along with it. “I’m tired of being hetero,” Jimmy Porter sings, “rather ride on the metero.”
Here are the murals which the admirable Agnès Varda thought worthy to be filmed, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the great Art Deco monument Frank Cannon inhabits the penthouse of (a beautiful building on Sunset Boulevard, used here because at the time it was undergoing a makeover meant to give it a backward look for its new occupants, the St. James’s Club).
Our boy pretty soon shows the virtues of a plowman, which all in all evens the odds. Tuggle (and Bruce Surtees) overcome many an obstacle to mount this amusing spectacle, and above all a tendency among childish amateurs to treat this material as a film school thesis.