By Editorial Staff
Published August 1, 1990
What is Behind the Popularity of this Summer’s Hottest Blockbuster?
By Robert Nolte
ORLANDO, FL – Not since Chariots of Fire rumbled out of Hollywood have we seen such blatant heroism as Dick Tracy shows us in Disney’s recent hit movie.
Tracy is so heroic that an obviously impressed audience rose to its feet and gave the movie a standing ovation last month in Orlando, Florida, during a world premiere screening. I haven’t seen such obvious affection for a movie in years.
Why? Has Tracy touched a deep chord in us that strums when men act with integrity instead of compromise?
Having mused over the Tracy epic for several days, I have come to some conclusions:
- When Tracy refuses a bribe, the gangsters are incredulous. So is the audience. Perhaps we are jaded by past movie “heroes” who violate the law (re: “the end justifies the means” philosophy). At any rate, when Tracy comes along and in a masculine way turns aside temptation, something deep within us responds.
- Even Madonna cannot bring down the high moraled detective. Fidelity has fallen on hard times these days but Dick Tracy is not of their generation. Instead, he leaves us with a message that commitment to Tess Trueheart has its own rewards.
- And the gangsters offer insight by their refusal to be manipulated by “Big Boy,” a visionary gang leader who seeks to rule over a cabal of hooligans. Like the citizens of Iron Curtain nations, the mobsters seek to throw off the yoke of the despot.
Should we really analyze a movie that probably was designed just to entertain us? Does a comic book character have anything to say to such a distinguished generation as ours?
I don’t know, but if you study an audience as they watch Dick Tracy, you will probably get some insights into what people long for: simpler times, honest cops, good triumphing over evil and men of character who can overcome temptation.
There was a hunger in that theater audience to see a man of virtue, troubled yet triumphant over life issues that all of us face. Tracy was tempted by the lustful beauty of Madonna but he had his eyes on a higher prize than momentary gratification.
Movie goers that sat around me were stunned when Tracy spurned the bold advances of a scantily-clad Madonna playing Breathless Mahoney. Such purity in men is seldom seen on the silver screen.
When Tracy asks Mahoney whose side she is on, the temptress replies, “The side I am always on. Mine.” As the plot unravels, a scriptural principle unfolds that not even the most obtuse movie fans can miss. In trying to save her life, Mahoney (Madonna) loses it when she is shot to death at the end of the drama.
Tess Trueheart, on the other hand, is willing to give up Tracy whom she has loved for years. She leaves town thinking she will start a new life without Tracy but through a series of plot twists, is reunited with Tracy. Willing to lose her own life, she embodies one of Jesus’ most dramatic teachings: “Whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake shall find it.”
Aside from the moral messages and possible Christian extrapolations, there is something much more powerful going on in Dick Tracy that should encourage every Christian. The movie offers hope and a possibility that external evil can be conquered as well as the beast who lives within every man.
Movies these days are looking for messiahs and Dick Tracy is no exception. “Only Dick Tracy can save us,” is a stanza from one of the musical numbers. Tracy, in fact, does save the city from a powerful crime syndicate and in that, I suppose, he represents a type of messiah-figure.
And, oh, how the movie theater audience I was sitting with wanted a savior! For those few, brief movie moments, a wave of desire for salvation swept across the auditorium. Normally tough urban citizens became vulnerable and dared to believe that men could live virtuous lives.
In that pristine moment, I longed to roll another film that told of Jesus and the redemption He offered all men.
But it was not to be. Theater patrons filed out of AMC 6 smiling, clapping and talking about the Great Tracy. I wanted to preach but took solace in the fact that this crowd was ripe for revival. These people were looking for a hope they had only caught a glimpse of in the life of a big city detective.
They had seen a man who lived with a clear conscience and now they were ready to meet the God who cleanses every man’s conscience. A God who can even use a Disney picture.
Robert Nolte is a former pastor, television newsman and newspaper reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He is presently managing editor for the Orlando Sun newspaper group, a company that publishes 18 newspapers serving over 500,000 readers in Central Florida.
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Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.
Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California
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— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter
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“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981
Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.
The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.
“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine
Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese
Running Time: 28 minutes
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Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
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