Bugsy Malone (1976)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

, 1976.  , , , .  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

It’s the kind of thing that only people doing drugs in the seventies could have come up with: a 1930s gangster film in which all the characters are played by kids, all the guns shoot whipped cream instead of bullets, and weirdest of all, the singing is dubbed by deep-voiced adults.

is marvelous as the charismatic loner who wanders into the middle of a gang war between two rival mobs, taking up with the charming Fat Sam after his entire operation is wiped out.  While trying to get his boss back up in business, Baio also romances an aspiring singer who doesn’t take too kindly to his being pursued by a lethal lounge singer (Jodie Foster).

The concept is held strongly throughout and the kids really are adorable, but the screenplay lacks bite and doesn’t make up for how odd it gets, particularly seeing pre-teen Foster singing a song in the style of Mae West (and lip-synching with little conviction).

The performers handle the text with exceptional skill, Baio doing a really impressive job of delivering piles of dialogue without breaking a sweat, and the period details are also impressive, but the real disappointment is that the songs by Paul Williams are mostly forgettable.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Original Song Score and its Adaptation or Adaptation Score

Cannes Film Festival:  In Competition

Golden Globe Award Nominations:   Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Original Score; Best Original Song (“Bugsy Malone”)


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