When the black limousine approached the Uptown Theatre -- the one with six young, tough bodyguards running alongside -- there was a near-riot feeling. People held their children and cameras over their heads. Mayday! People hustled in closer to the ropes. People pressed against each other. Horns went off in the street. Applause broke out, and cheers.
Warren Beatty just doesn't have the kind of name that you shout in the open air, but he got out of the limo first. For a man with his head crouched down, his knees bent, Beatty made a fairly graceful exit from the car. Oh, so much blackness in the late afternoon sunshine! He wore a black suit, black shirt, no tie and black sunglasses. And he helped pull out Madonna. Daisies!
"There're daisies in her hair!"
"Did you see her hair?"
Otherwise she wore black -- black velvet micro-mini dress, black platform shoes, black roots. She and Beatty -- and this is the moment everyone will remember -- surveyed the roped-off crowds, seven people deep in places. They stopped. Their faces stood still. And then, at once -- in a perfectly harmonious, as though synchronized, and sensationally gregarious moment for the opening of their new movie "Dick Tracy" -- they smiled.
They smiled at the bank of press photographers. They held hands with young Charlie Korsmo, who plays "The Kid" in "Dick Tracy." They turned slowly around -- together. They smiled for the rubberneckers with shock and thrill and confusion on their faces.
"Her shoes were great," said Anna Abo, owner of the Villa Roma restaurant across Connecticut Avenue. "And in general, she looked great ... I saw Ava Gardner once. And that Spanish actor in 'Around the World in 80 Days.' "
"She really looked scrawny," said a young woman in front. "And really '70s!"
"I thought she was awful -- tacky-looking," said an older woman. "Her hair needs to be fixed. You could see all the black streaks."
John Sununu's family -- three sons in blue blazers and Nancy Sununu in hot pink -- walked into the theater, but with considerably less commotion. Sen. Patrick Leahy arrived, and Sen. Larry Pressler, and Sen. Al Gore with wife Tipper. (Tipper and Madonna in the same place!) Rep. Pat Schroeder pulled her movie tickets from a little black Chanel bag. New relatives Eunice Shriver and New York Gov. Mario Cuomo showed up -- he in a suntan and bright yellow sports coat.
The crowd gave a very pregnant Lynda Carter -- in a silk tunic -- a round of polite applause. And former senator George McGovern -- an old Beatty friend -- came in a vanilla suit, the kind that Tom Wolfe usually wears.
"Who's that, Mom?" asked a kid.
"Someone who ran for president once," she said, "a long time ago."
Inside, they were treated to popcorn and candy and free drinks. Inside, they were treated to the world premiere of "Dick Tracy" -- during which Beatty gets to talk into his watch as much as he talks on the phone in real life -- to benefit the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for Hematology Research, where Beatty's father was treated before he died nearly three years ago.
They applauded for -- guess who -- Beatty when he made his first screen appearance. And again, when Tracy meets a barely dressed Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) for the first time after her gangster lover has been knocked off.
Dick Tracy: "No grief for Lips?"
Breathless: "I'm wearing black underwear."
The movie over, the theater emptied, Beatty came out alone. No sunglasses. No Madonna.
People shouted, "Nice film!"
"Thanks. Thanks," he said to the swarms as he crawled back into the limo. And teenagers in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts dodged traffic on Connecticut Avenue to knock on the black windows of his car as it pulled away from the curb for the after-party at the National Building Museum.
"She's got a tour," said Beatty a little later, when asked where Madonna had gone. "Did you see her concert? It's something, isn't it? But she had to leave to get back up. She's got a show in New York tomorrow."
"Excuse me. Excuse me. Are you finished talking to him?" asked a representative from Ernie Johnston Advertising, as she hustled reporters away from the star. "You're just here to get the scene, not to talk to people."
But Beatty called a reporter back. "Hey!" He had that smile -- the cute one when his eyes almost cross. "Did they tell you not to talk to me?"
"Why?" Mr. Charm asked, grabbing the reporter by both arms. "What vicious things were you going to write about me? You're not going to write vicious things, are you?"
"We're stuck between a rock and a hard place," said Ernie Johnston Jr. when asked if it were true that reporters were not allowed to interview Beatty -- or anybody else. "The story keeps changing. He said he didn't want people bothering him earlier. We're just trying to keep the client happy."
The client, looking more tense than truly happy at the party, met well-wishers one-by-one with all the grace he could muster.
"Mr. Beatty, I'd like you to meet a friend of mine -- Laurie Firestone," said one woman.
"Pleased to meet you," said Firestone nervously. As Barbara Bush's social secretary, she's undoubtedly met more famous people, yet ... there was a loss for words.
"Great movie," she said.
"Thanks," he said.
"The colors were terrific," she said. "Just great."
People kept comparing the movie to "Batman" -- the sets, the music, the costumes, the one scene where Dick Tracy crashes down through a skylight. Somebody said it remindedher of "Annie!" -- because the red-headed Korsmo as orphan "Kid" has more close-ups than Madonna. Someone else said it was like "Superman" and another said "The Untouchables."
"When you get Tess Trueheart and Dick Tracy in a film together," said McGovern when asked how he liked it, "you always get a positive reaction." Has he met Madonna before? "Yes. I had dinner with Warren and Madonna a few months back... . I admire her guts in undertaking all the things she does."
Craps, cards and roulette were offered -- to copy the Club Ritz casino in "Dick Tracy." And at one table of blackjack, Korsmo was cleaning up. "I hit on 18 and got 21," he said in his blue blazer and rep tie. He kept playing with his stack of chips. Other kids there had run out. Still others came up and asked him to sign autographs. "Whewwwwwww," he said. "This is my night! What can I say!"
Above, Dick Tracy cartoon faces -- which, let's face it, looked like Beatty -- were projected from campy movie-premiere search lights. There was food around -- Americana cooking like hot dogs, meatloaf, turkey, ham. There was also Jello -- for dessert -- in primary colors just like the color scheme of the movie.
"The sets were superb," said Val Cook, Saks Jandel vice president, who's also thrown her share of big benefits in the huge hall. "But what they've done to the ceiling here is the best thing I've ever seen."