Beatty’s visual interest

Art directors to honor talent who keeps team close

Warren Beatty has done what only one other person — Orson Welles — has achieved in the history of Hollywood; He’s been nominated for Academy Awards as actor, director, writer and producer on the same film.

In fact, Beatty did it twice, for “Heaven Can Wait” (1978) and again for “Reds” (1981).

And while it may be a stretch to suggest that he should have been nominated for art direction and production design Oscars as well, it’s fair to note that Beatty’s fingerprints and visual flair are all over such pet projects as “Reds,” “Dick Tracy” (1990), “Bugsy” (1991) and “Bulworth” (1998).

With its serious subject matter, historically accurate sets and design, and muted colors, “Reds” presents a stark contrast to the colorful, kinetic, cartoon-come-to-life aesthetic of “Dick Tracy,” which in turn contrasts dramatically with the shadowy, glamorous sheen of “Bugsy” and the politico-meets-hip-hop look and rhythms of “Bulworth.”

Well-known for his hands-on approach to all aspects of filmmaking, Beatty, it’s revealing to note, often liked to collaborate with the same team of artists and designers who could interpret his vision and bring it to the screen.

One of Beatty’s frequent collaborators is renowned production designer Richard Sylbert, who first worked with the star at the beginning of his career, on 1961’s “Splendor in the Grass.” He subsequently worked closely with Beatty on the shiny, frothy hit comedy “Shampoo” as well as on “Reds” and “Dick Tracy.” Even the much-maligned “Ishtar” boasts great visual touches — and the real Sahara desert — thanks to Beatty and Sylbert’s input.

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