Bugsy Malone (1976)

“Not the sarsaparilla racket!”

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


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
  • John Cassisi as “Fat Sam”
    Fat Sam
  • Foster singing “My Name is Tallulah”
  • 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.


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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