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Al Pacino's 5 Most Insane Moments of Overacting in DICK TRACY [Lists]

Dick Tracy (1990) Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino)
Pacino's greatest and most insane performance was as "Big Boy" in the live-action comic book film Dick Tracy.

Al Pacino is a great actor, but his greatest skill is the ability to become completely insane. The one role that he lost himself in was as "Big Boy" Caprice in Dick Tracy.

Dick Tracy (originally called "Plainclothes Tracy) is based on the newspaper crime comic strip by Chester Gould starting on October 4, 1931.

A bunch of live-action serials started in 1937, but it wasn't until 1990 that Warren Beatty produced, directed and starred in the action film Dick Tracy.

Because the film was nothing like the strip, I hated it. But, I've come to appreciate it as a fun over-the-top Mafia film. It was nominated for seven Academy Award nominations and won Best Original Song, Best Makeup and Best Art Direction. I can't argue with any of those since it was exceptional in all those categories.

Beatty thought about casting Pacino as Big Boy, but Pacino just finished a run of the play The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, which was about a fictional 1930s Chicago mobster. Beatty figured he wouldn't want to play that kind of character again. So, he saw Pacino in a restaurant and asked him if he could think of someone to cast as "Big Boy." Pacino said he'd think about it and called him a few days later saying he'd take the part. Beatty was shocked, but grateful.

Al Pacino was cast as Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice and his character looks nothing like the overweight guy in the comic strips. Instead, Pacino improvised an ugly character with enormous shoulder pads. In fact, Slate says Pacino's performance was "imported wholesale from a production of Bertolt Brecht's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui."

Pacino is overacts a lot in this film, but here are the most insane freak-out performances.

1. Al Pacino Takes Over a Mob Boss' Business

The Scene Called For...
"Big Boy" takes over a rival's business and drops him in the river after he signs the deed.

But We Got...
The first appearance of Big Boy Caprice is the traditional mob boss take over scene with Lips Manlis (Sorvino), but Pacino manages to be more vain, sadistic and crazy than any mob boss before. He goes from muttering to screaming in less than two minutes.

2. Al Pacino Freaks Out at a Club Rehearsal

The Scene Called For...
Big Boy is leading a rehearsal for his club's next performance.

What We Got Was...
In another scene, Big Boy is directing Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) and he's never been more lecherous and loud.  He's screaming at the top of his lungs and slapping her around. If that wasn't enough, he gleefully slams the keyboard on the fingers of 88 Keys (Mandy Patinkin). All the while his eyes are popping out of their sockets.

3. Al Pacino Freaks Out at a Gangland Meeting

The Scene Called For..
Big Boy collects the crime bosses of the city together to persuade them to join forces.

What We Got Was...
Another classic scene is when the mob bosses get together to join forces. Or try to. From misquoting Lincoln to comparing the Mafia to a bank he chews more scenery than a Wall Street termite.

4. Al Pacino Freaks Out at a Gangland Shootout

The Scene Called For...
Big Boy and his Mob are in caught in a gangland shootout with the police.

What We Got Was...
The final shoot out is one of the most insane in movie history with every villain in the film getting gunned down,  but Big Boy manages to crank enough paranoid jokes to take it over the top.

5. Al Pacino Freaks Out at His Mob Triggermen

The Scene Called For...
Big Boy is angry that his men aren't able to kill Dick Tracy so he tells them off.

What We Got Was...

A hilarious rant where Big Boy is so upset that he finally throws his table onto the floor.

What is your favorite performance of Al Pacino?

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  1. I didn't like the movie either. But Pacino obviously had fun with the role. Sometimes it's good to break out of the serious and take a role that is over the top.

  2. hahaha! love them all


  3. Sounds like Beatty was a pretty crappy director and didn't know how to rein Pacino in. I've never watched that movie. I'm surprised it won Oscars; I assumed it won some Razzies.

  4. To me it is as if Pacino was doing a caricature of himself doing a bad Godfather.

    It was campy, but I still enjoyed it.

  5. wait... who is this pacino guy? ;)

  6. That's exactly my thinking David. Over the top to the point of comical.

  7. I was surprised too Pat, but it has amazing visuals. That doesn't mean it was good though. Even Norbitt got an Oscar nomination.


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