Bugsy Malone (1976)

“Not the sarsaparilla racket!”

Synopsis:
During a rival gang war in Depression-era Chicago, Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio) is recruited by mob boss “Fat Sam” (John Cassisi).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
It’s easy to understand why, as noted by Peary, “opinion is sharply divided” on this “comical Depression Era gangster musical”, populated solely by kids — it’s a truly bizarre venture which, unfortunately, I don’t think quite works. Writer/director Alan Parker replaces bullets with cream pies (a clever twist), but is otherwise inconsistent in his use of child actors: if they’re meant to be “just kids”, then why does pre-pubescent crime boss Dandy Dan (Martin Lev) wear a pencil-thin mustache? Although I understand Parker’s satirical point that gangsters often act in a child-like fashion, these kids aren’t childlike — they’re mini-adults! The production values are fine, but most of the performances are unimpressive (Jodie Foster is a notable exception), and the majority of the songs are unmemorable. Nonetheless, this film is beloved by many — primarily those who fondly remember watching it as children themselves; and, as a kids’ film, perhaps it works.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jodie Foster as Tallulah
    Foster
  • John Cassisi as “Fat Sam”
    Fat Sam
  • Foster singing “My Name is Tallulah”
    Singing
  • The silly yet amusing use of cream pies as “deadly” weapons
    Cream Pies

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for its historical notoriety, for Foster’s (too brief) performance, and as a cult film for adults who remember watching it as kids.

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One Response to “Bugsy Malone (1976)”

  1. First viewing.

    Skip it.

    Oh, skip it.

    Just skip it. Skip, skip, skip.

    One cute song early on does work: ‘Fat Sam’s Grand Slam Speakeasy’. It’s breezy and nicely handled, even if not particularly unique.

    That leaves about an hour and 25 worthless minutes.

    Skip it.

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