[Film Review] Bugsy Malone (1976)

Bugsy Malone poster.jpg

Title: Bugsy Malone
Year: 1976
Country: UK, USA
Language: English, Italian
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Musical, Family
Director/Writer: Alan Parker
Music: Paul Williams
Cinematography: Peter Biziou, Michael Seresin
Cast:
Scott Baio
Florrie Dugger
John Cassisi
Jodie Foster
Martin Lev
Paul Murphy
Albin Jenkins
Dexter Fletcher
Rating: 6.6/10

Bugsy Malone 1976.jpg

Ushering in UK televisual and advertising practitioner Alan Parker ’s foray into the form of feature film, BUGSY MALONE is one of a kind, a comical pastiche amalgamating American Prohibition era gangster turf war with vintage musical numbers, and idiosyncratically, all the players on screen are prepubescent teens, an ingenious wrinkle hasn’t been imitated ever since (directing children is never a cakewalk, kudos to Parker for the resolution).

NYC speakeasy boss Fat Sam (Cassisi, a would-be luvvie in the making has he not retired from acting in 1982), is bedeviled by the surging attack of “splurge guns”, a new weapon devised by his nemesis Dandy Dan (Lev) to eliminate his cohorts and take over his business. He turns to our hero, the street-smart boxer scout Bugsy Malone (Baio) for help, who is struck by coup de foudre with a budding singer Blousey Brown (Dugger) in the speakeasy, who is aspiring for a Hollywood career.

Although the story-line digresses and slacks off erratically, BUGSY MALONE’s main allure comes from the novel discrepancy and amusement spawned by putting grown-up material into the mouth of a bevy of underage amateurs (save Jodie Foster’s minxy moll), and by whom Paul Williams’ retro adult-voiced strains are lip-synced, the titular theme song is a standout, and a barnstorming Foster steals the limelight as easy as falling off a log in her number “MY NAME IS TALLULAH”.

As a family-friendly novelty, machine guns are substituted with toy guns, blood with cream, automobile with pedal vehicles, and everything leads to a havoc-wreaking custard pie throwing climax to top off house-playing hilarity. No denying it is lots of fun to watch such a finely manufactured gallimaufry, yet the movie only intrigues us but never evolves into compelling, partially thanks to a disgruntled Florrie Dugger (who wisely stays away from acting afterwards) hasn’t got a scintilla of chemistry with a more proactive Baio, only prompts any spectator to wonder why doesn’t Parker cast Foster in the leading role instead, who struts and slinks way heads and shoulders above everyone else with a palatable air of insouciance and va-va-voom, such a pity.

referential entries: Parker’s SHOOT THE MOON (1982, 5.4/10), MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (1978, 7.9/10).

Oscar 1976 - Bugsy Malone.jpg

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