PG, 1990, 105 minutes, Touchstone Home Video, closed-captioned, $92.95.
In his floppy banana trench coat and fabulous matching fedora, Warren Beatty looks more like the fashion police than a gangbuster. As both director and star of "Dick Tracy," Beatty emphasizes color-coordination and an excess of style over substance. As the grim but vulnerable crime-fighter, Beatty is aided in his crusade by his long-suffering steady, Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly), and his newly adopted sidekick, The Kid (Charlie Korsmo). But like "Batman," this cartoon noir is energized by its hyperactive villain -- Al Pacino stealing the show as the hilariously diabolical Big Boy, humpbacked leader of a rogue's gallery of misshapen geeks. Tracy proves even more untouchable when he fights off the tempting Breathless Mahoney (Madonna), the lounge singer who could, if she only would, put Big Boy behind bars. Shimmering in black silk and moonglow, she slithers through a series of Stephen Sondheim tunes, but Tracy clings to his jut-jawed resolve. Written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr., "Dick Tracy" is blushing with Bacallisms, you-know-how-to-whistle patter for the platinum singer. "I know how you feel. You don't know whether you want to hit me or kiss me," she vamps. The venetians let in slices of street light. Funny she should say that. -- Rita Kempley
A TV CHRISTMAS PRESENT: "I LOVE LUCY" AND "THE HONEYMOONERS"
52 minutes, CBS/Fox, $14.98.
The holidays are best spent with families, and this warmly festive tape, handsomely produced by Ken Ross, summons two of the most enduring from TV's happy past, the Ricardos and the Kramdens -- teaming the 1956 "I Love Lucy Christmas Special," starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, with " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," a 1955 "Honeymooners" adaptation of O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi," starring Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows and Art Carney. The "Lucy" special, which aired in a slightly truncated and semicolorized version on CBS this week (the tape's print is uncut and in black-and-white), consists mostly of flashbacks to previous shows, one of them the memorable hysteria that preceded the birth of Little Ricky. Ralph and Alice Kramden's frantic antics are much funnier and topped off with a socko 60-second sentimental soliloquy, "the best time of the year," by the inarguably great Gleason. Among the signs of the times that stand out are Arnaz's puffing on a cigarette, which you don't see in sitcoms now, and Gleason's attempt to get a laugh with the then-derisive phrase "Made in Japan." Otherwise, it's impressive how much remains timeless. Also on the tape: two charming animated station-break Christmas greetings by R.O. Blechman that aired on CBS in the days when networks still had time for things like goodwill; and the Ricardos joining the Mertzes for a chorus of "Jingle Bells" in Santa suits. This tape's a keeper, but the preview copy was marred by recurrent audio and video glitches, likely to have been caused by Macrovision, an evil anti-copying signal that CBS/Fox blunderingly applies to its videos. Alas, Scrooge lives, and so does the Grinch. -- Tom Shales
R, 1990, 100 minutes, Vidmark, $89.95.
It was like a tiny blip on the radar screen. In July of 1981, an article appeared in the New York Times reporting the outbreak of a rare form of cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma in a number of gay men. This troubling bulletin was the first report on the disease that came to be called AIDS, but for the seven men at the center of "Longtime Companion," which begins on the day the article appeared, the information causes only the smallest of ripples. A few phone calls are exchanged, a few words of alarm, but generally the characters -- all bright, attractive, relatively young and well-off -- continue with their lives, unaware of how drastically they are about to be changed. There is a potent irony in this, and in the opening scenes the filmmakers exploit it, contrasting what we knew then with what we know now. The scene looks nearly idyllic in the Fire Island club where Willy (Campbell Scott) and his friend John (Dermot Mulroney) have come after a day on the beach. But following the camera as it cranes down from above the crowd that's gathered in the sunshine to drink and dance and cruise, we're aware that what we're being shown no longer really exists. That blip on the screen has cast everything in shadow, changing it forever. This intelligent, deeply moving film traces the evolution of these changes as the crisis develops. Written by playwright Craig Lucas ("Prelude to a Kiss") and directed by Norman Rene, the film travels through the '80s, and in the process, we watch as first one character and then another is diagnosed, as they crowd into one another's hospital rooms and hold vigil, as they attend one another's memorials. The film's ability to cut away the politics, the rhetoric and the hysteria and focus on the emotions of the people touched by the disease is its greatest strength; it's what makes it the best dramatization of the disease's impact yet to be made. After a time, the film becomes less about AIDS and more about death. The chord it strikes, finally, is universal. -- Hal Hinson