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Bugsy Malone is a fantastic 1970s musical with a twist: it's all about the kids. Alan Parker's first big foray into the big screen, it takes a regular gangster scenario and replaces the usual grown up violent characters with children, who then take on every aspect of the acting and performing, apart from actually voicing the songs. Even the guns are changed so that they splurge foam instead of bullets.
Indeed, the whole thing isn't likely to see any kids being killed: that would have looked really bad. Instead, it's as if they get splurged and are 'out of that particular game' as it were, to return in the next scene where they'll try again. It's very cleverly done.
The plot revolves around two rival gangsters/business owners: Fat Sam and Dandy Dan. The latter is portrayed as the villain, with Parker favouring Fat Sam and his gang members. Fat Sam's club is the hottest place to go, and it's as he's on his way to it that we meet the titular character: Bugsy Malone. Quite a quirky name, and one that doesn't really tell the whole story of the film. Sure, Bugsy's the main character, and he has the romance(s) as well as the loyalty element and the heroic nature, but a lot of Parker's focus is on the two rival gangs. It's like they're his own kids and he's living his childhood once again through them but applying it in the real world. They're like toys he can't put down!
The acting is pretty decent, although other than a couple of names the majority of the cast seemed to have subsequently paled into normality never to be on screen again. Many are even the subjects of shows such as 'Where Are They Now?', which has a look at some of these one hit wonder actors. However, for Scott Baio as Bugsy and Jodie Foster as the star of Fat Sam's stage Tallulah, things were only just starting. The two of them just seem so at ease on screen, it's quite relaxing to watch. It's always hard casting kids: you really don't know what you're going to get, and when they're of a very young age such as from 10 up to their teens, you're taking a bit of gamble. Some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired, such as Florrie Dugger's Blousey and Sheridan Russell's Knuckles. However, this is kind of taken as a not important thing, and Foster and Baio easily balance things out.
The music is also fun, and you can tell that the child actors had loads of fun performing the routines and mouthing the words, even if nearly every single song is actually sung by adults. It was more about the image for the casting as opposed the acting and singing. Some of the music is instantly memorable, such as Fat Sam's Grand Slam song and the titular track. Bad Guys is also a chance for the gang members to sing about how they're good at being bad, and Foster and Dugger get some nice solos.
Overall, it's highly entertaining, and a stroke of genius to substitute the adults for kids and the bullets for splurge guns/foam. It makes it appealing and endearing, and the entertainment factor is very high. Strongly recommend this one.
I love this fim. I hadn't watched it for years until just recently when I got the chance to sit down and watch it again with a bunch of kids. At first I thought they wouldn't like it as it is quite dated now, having been made in 1976, but they were just as enthralled as I was the first time I saw it.
The story is set in prohibition era America when rival gangsters competed to make money from various rackets, including the Speakeasy, a place to buy the alcohol that was illegal at the time. It centres around the Bugsy Malone of the title, a man unaffiliated to any gang, and his attempts to win the heart of Blousey Brown. This happens against the backdrop of a war between Fat Sam and Dandy Dan and their gangs. This is a film with a difference however as all the roles are played by children. The cars they drive are pedal cars, the drinks in the speakeasy clearly orange and blackcurrant squash, and most importantly instead of bullets in the guns there is shaving foam, and custard pies are used as weapons. This is the heart of the story, as Dandy Dan has got his hands on a new weapon, the splurge gun, and is using it to put Fat Sam out of business. Bugsy, of course, has to come to the rescue.
This film is also a musical, and many of the songs may already be familiar to you - Fat Sams Grand Slam played an important role in Strictly Come Dancing this year. They are all very evocative of the era of the film and fit nicely with the action, with the exception of Ordinary Fool, which is a bit of a drippy number and far too slow for modern audiences.
The children all act creditably, most notably Scott Baio as Busgy, and Jodie Foster as Tallulah, who acts the socks off everyone else in the film showing she was made for stardom even at an early age. This film is now a classic and if you haven't seen it yet I suggest to try to as it really is well worth it. The children I saw it with laughed at all the right moments, watched with open mouths at times, and clapped and cheered at the end - and that doesn't happen very often!
I first watched Bugsy Malone as a kid and I loved it. I suspected I remembered this film through 'rose tinted glasses' so I decided to buy it and watch it again. I'm glad that I did because it was as good as I remembered it.
A parody of 'gangster' films and characters, this was a musical film originally released in 1976 which was loosely based on the events during the prohibition era in the United States. All of the characters were played by children and the plot lines, as opposed to using guns, used custard to eliminate characters. Custard pies are used at the beginning of the film but during the film the use 'Splurge' guns become commonplace.
The film focuses on the power struggle between Fat Sam (John Cassisi) and Dandy Dan (Martin Lev) and Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio) who is enlisted to help Fat Sam and his mob overcome Dandy Dan's crew. Dandy Dan has acquired 'splurge' guns and is taking down Fat Sam's mob one by one.
Considering the talent displayed by some of the cast, it is amazing that only Jodie Foster (who played Fat Sam's moll and club singer Tallulah) and Scott Baio (Bugsy Malone) went on to achieve notable worldwide success. Bonnie Langford, Dexter Fletcher, Andrew Paul and Phil Daniels were all minor characters in the film and made a name for themselves in the UK after the films release.
This is a fun film which is suitable for people of all ages. I'd recommend this to anyone with kids who need entertaining for an hour and a bit. The songs are catchy, although they were all sung by adults, which I didn't notice as much as a kid, they will stick with you for days after watching this.
I first saw Bugsy Malone when I was in school... so many years ago now and recently had the pleasure of watching it again. And it hadn't lost any of its charm. If anything I enjoyed watching it even more as an adult as I had as a child. It works on so many levels and I think that having had exposure to more "adult" gangster movies like the Godfather and Goodfellas showed you just how perfectly they had caught the nuances of the organised crime culture and transposed it onto children who more or less wanted run of the roost. And the musical numbers are vastly superior to most musicals I have seen. Great acting from everyone in this movie, as well as a young Jodie Foster, who does an amazing turn as the child equivalent of a gangster's moll. The use of custard pies instead of guns just highlights the absurdity of violence to a completely different level than I have ever seen before in a movie - or maybe I am reading into it too much and it was just a fun idea. Whatever way you look at it, this is one hell of a film.
Normally I would shy away from a film where the entire cast is made up of children especially where singing is involved but this musical comedy is actually really good and one I have fond memories of when I watched it when I was young and again more recently when it was on TV .
The film also boast a number of actors and actresses who went on to achieve fame as adults with the excellent Jodie Foster leading the way. Scott Baio in the title role as Budsey Malone went on to enjoy some success more in TV than film.
Scott Baio ... Bugsy Malone
Florrie Dugger ... Blousey Brown
Jodie Foster ... Tallulah
John Cassisi ... Fat Sam
Martin Lev ... Dandy Dan
Paul Murphy ... Leroy Smith / Gangster
Sheridan Earl Russell ... Knuckles
Albin 'Humpty' Jenkins ... Fizzy
Paul Chirelstein ... Smolsky / Boxer
Andrew Paul ... O'Dreary
Davidson Knight ... Cagey Joe
Michael Jackson ... Razamataz
Jeffrey Stevens ... Louis
Peter Holder ... Ritzy
Donald Waugh ... Snake Eyes
Bugsey is a bit of a drifter getting by on odd jobs for one of the cities crime bosses Fat Sam, Sam is under pressure from a rival boss who has got his hands on a new spluge gun that makes the old weapon of choice, the hand thrown cream pie redundant and with his new fire power he is taking over many of Fat Sams operations.
This is an enjoyable romp of a film, the acting is acceptable given it is kids however it is the song and dance scenes which I really enjoyed and there are some great tracks on the film score. Also the film boasts a quite excellent final fight scene.
I suppose every person's childhood has certain defining moments, whether it's the first time you heard a particular song, a day out in the park, or perhaps when your favourite video got recorded over with some history programme about castles, (not that I'm bitter or anything).
One such moment for me was 'Bugsy Malone', a movie that had songs, gangsters, pedal powered cars, plenty of food fights and, most notably, a cast that was played entirely by kids, with an average age of twelve. When you're nine or ten years old, it looks like an awful lot of fun!
~~~ About The Movie ~~~
'Bugsy Malone' was originally released in 1976 and was written and directed by Alan Parker, with music by Paul Williams. Now would probably be a good time to mention that if you're not a fan of musicals, 'Bugsy Malone' is one you should probably avoid like the plague. If however youre like me and you don't mind people bursting into song periodically throughout the movie, 'Bugsy Malone' has plenty to offer.
It follows the main character, the man 'everybody loves', Busgy Malone, who is somewhat of a drifter, going from 'this and that' trying to earn an honest buck, mainly by finding potential boxers, although occasionally doing work for the likes of Fat Sam, the boss of a mafia gang. Fat Sam runs a 'book store', which is actually just a front for his speakeasy, the hub of Sam's empire. It's at Fat Sam's that we meet the majority of the other main characters, such as Tallulah, the lead performer at the speakeasy as well as being Sam's girl, and Blousey Brown, an aspiring singer who dreams of making it to Hollywood someday.
When a rival of Fat Sam's, Dandy Dan, begins trying to muscle in on his 'turf', Sam has to fight back to protect his empire - cue plenty of flying whipped cream.
The style of the movie is very tongue-in-cheek. Although in essence this is a very adult-themed movie, dealing with gangsters and the sort of underbelly of society, the themes have been significantly toned down and are treated in a light-hearted and often comical manner - hence the use of splurge-guns which fires a sort of custard/cream as 'weapons', rather than actual guns. Other themes that you might expect if it were a real gangster movie are altered just enough to render them both harmless and fun and speaking from what I remember of my experience watching the movie, I was too busy enjoying the food fights and wanting a pedal-powered car to consider the reality of mob-life. I think the movies U rating is perfectly adequate and theres nothing in the movie that would have a negative effect on children.
Even though the movie is largely targeted towards kids, there's still plenty entertainment value in there for adults as well.
Surprisingly, for such as young cast, the acting is actually fairly good. Don't get me wrong, there are obviously flakey moments here and there, but I think that's to be expected. Overall, the abilities of everyone involved are of a high enough standard to engage the viewer in the story. Whilst the plot is fairly simple, it is structured reasonably well and I thought the pace of the movie was fitting and when coupled with the acting and an entertaining script, it adds up to pretty engaging movie that should certain hold the attention of younger children, but equally adults shouldnt find themselves becoming bored or disinterested by the movies simple style.
For me, one of the greatest aspects of the movie is the music. 'Bugsy Malone' was the first time I encountered Paul Williams as a composer, but he's become one of my personal favourite musicians and songwriters since, having done some acting and music for various movies, notably 'Phantom Of The Paradise' and several Muppet movies.
The songs are both catchy and enjoyable to listen to and I personally enjoy them away from the movie.
Some might criticise the fact that the songs are actually sung by adults and then lip-synched by the actors. Personally, I dont have a problem with it, since there are plenty of musicals where the singing-voice is not actually the actors and I dont think it really detracts anything from the songs or movie as a whole. It might seem a little disjointed, Bugsys singing voice is particularly out of place compared to Scott Baios, but I dont think anyone would feel cheated by it at the end of the day.
A mention has to go to the choreography, which is first rate. I especially enjoyed the scene that accompanies the song Bad Guys, which is one that always stuck in my mind as child and still makes me chuckle to this day.
~~~ # "We could've been anything that we wanted to be..." ~~~
It was decided to cast American actors for the lead roles, but with a predominantly British line-up for the support. When the film was made the cast were all relatively unknown. Scott Baio played the role of Bugsy, whilst Jodie Foster, (who was one of the few cast-members who had previous movie experience) was Tallulah. These two have probably are probably the most successful since the movie. I think Foster shows exactly why she went on to become such a successful actress and, perhaps rather unsurprisingly, she delivers one of the strongest performances of everyone involved.
John Cassisi, who played Fat Sam, went on to star in a couple of TV series, but didn't do much beyond 'Bugsy Malone'. He manages to play the angry, down-but-not-quite-out mob boss character with enough intimidation to make him believable, but at the same time with enough humour that he doesnt alienate the audience.
Florrie Dugger plays Blousey and, for me at least, is the weak link in the main cast. Thats not to say shes terrible in the role, but I thought at times she didnt look comfortable onscreen and perhaps thats the reason she didnt go onto do any other acting work after the movie.
Strangely, there are some minor parts that were played by people that later went on to have successful acting careers. Anyone who is a fan of 'The Bill' will undoubtedly recognise Andrew Paul as O'Dreary, who went on to play P.C. Quinnan in the TV series. Equally, a very young Dexter Fletcher, (Baby Face) is currently staring in Hotel Babylon as Tony, the head concierge.
For the vast majority of the cast, 'Busgy Malone' is the only performance they ever did and most went back to their normal lives.
~~~ The DVD ~~~
This particular edition of the movie comes on one disc that features both the movie and the special features. It also includes a booklet, written by Alan Parker.
The menu is interactive and has been well thought-out, being not only easy to find your way around but also quite eye-catching. I like the way that the DVD menus tie in with the overall theme and style of the DVD, (such as its front cover, booklet) and I think it shows that an effort has been made to make this Special Edition a little, well, special.
The Special Features are: -
- Directors Commentary by Alan Parker
- Promotional Trailers
- Character Biographies
- Photo Gallery
- Art Gallery
- From Sketch To Screen Feature
- Trivia Notes
On the whole the bonus material is of a high standard, but its appeal is very much down to personal preference. Im not one for trailers, but I was surprised that these were a little more enjoyable that others Ive seen because of the introductions by characters before showing the clips from the movie.
The Character Biographies are quite amusing to read, since the way the biographies are writing is both humorous and enjoyable to read, but on top of this you learn a little bit more about some of the characters. Equally, the actually layout of the screen is quite stylish and I especially like the design of the front menu for this feature.
Some of the other material is a little more mixed and whilst not all of its to my personal taste, I think it probably holds some value for some viewers. The Photo and Art galleries the Photo Gallery show still, black-and-white images that were taken on set during the filming, whilst the Art Gallery are comic-style interpretations that are interesting, but both are relatively short and perhaps are only of interest in watching once.
From Sketch To Screen allows you to view the initial story-boards made by Alan Parker, a comic-strip style version of the movie, or the movie itself with the two placed alongside for comparison. This isnt personally one of my favourite features, but its still of a good enough quality that its not unpleasant to watch.
The Directors Commentary is quite interesting, though if youre not a fan of watching movies with commentaries then theres nothing special here to change your mind. For people who are interested in this sort of thing there are some interesting insights from behind the scenes, pre-production etc., that fans of the movie might find enjoyable to learn.
I found the booklet particularly interesting, since it details how Bugsy Malone came about and some of the highs and lows of producing a movie of this nature. Its nice having a little more details behind-the-scenes and I found this to be an interesting and occasionally insightful read.
~~~ Conclusion ~~~
Its very difficult for me to find anything I would criticise about the movie whole-heartedly. I will concede that people who dislike musicals, or cant stomach movies with children as lead-characters probably wont enjoy Bugsy Malone though I would dispute the argument its just a bunch of kids, but maybe thats just me. If youre indifferent to these sorts of things, then I think youll at least feel its an entertaining enough way of spending 89 minutes of your time.
For people who are already fans, this is a worth while DVD since the bonus material is enjoyable, well laid-out and on the whole interesting to watch, with at least a couple of items that should be of interest.
Given that you can pick this up relatively cheap from Amazon, I would say it's good value for money - all in all, I would highly recommend.
Writer/Director: Alan Parker
Release Date: 1976
Runtime: 93 minutes
Amazon Price: £11.69
I first saw Bugsy Malone as a kid and I fell in love with it. I have since watched it many, many times and the magic of it has never died.
***Who is Alan Parker***
As an English film-maker, Alan Parker had his accomplishments confirmed firstly in 1992 when he was knighted as part of the New Year's Honours List, and again in 1995 when he was awarded a CBE.
Parker began his working life as a well respected Advertising copywriter until he began directing for TV from his basement in the 1970's. He has directed everything from TV commercials to feature films, many of which we are all familiar with, including Midnight Express, Fame, Angel Heart, Mississippi Burning, Evita and Angela's Ashes. Many of these films (Angel Heart, Evita, and Angela's Ashes) he also earns himself writing credits. One of Parker's most interesting achievements, is his 1982 direction of Pink Floyd's the wall.
Parker is a founding member of the Directors' Guild of Great Britain and as such has lectured at film schools around the world. He has also acted as a member of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival.
***What's the film about***
Bugsy Malone is a musical gangster film with a twist. Based loosely on the1920's Prohibition era in Chicago and the comings and goings of mobsters such as Al Capone, Bugsy Malone features kids in all the parts and adds a light-hearted, tongue in cheek aspect of the gangsters and their molls.
The film's plot centres around two main players Fat Sam and Dandy Dan and their ongoing feud and how Bugsy, a two-bit hustler at worst, becomes involved and fronts the army of men prepared to fight for Fat Sam.
The film is as action-packed as it gets although the difference is that the gangsters in Bugsy Malone use Cream pies and custard filled guns instead of bullets. The getaway cars are peddling cars (Bugsy drives Fat Sam's) and the drinks at Fat's Sam's bar are cream soda's and root beer.
There is also love as there should be in any good gangster film. The love interest for Bugsy comes in the shape of Blousey Brown, a quiet and simple type with a dream of being a singer in one of Fat Sam's shows.
***Who is in it***
Bugsy Malone - Scott Baio
You may remember Scott Baio (or you might not) as Chachi from Happy Days or as Charles from Charles in Charge or maybe as Dr Jack Stewart from the awful TV series Diagnosis Murder. If so, it's a shame because he deserves to be remembered for his starring role in this film.
Bugsy Malone was only Baio's second film but he is a natural in it. He plays the lovable rogue, hungry for a bit of the good life and ready to hustle for it if need be. He oozes charm in his performance and it is no wonder all the girls in the film either have a crush on him or fall for him hard.
Blousey Brown - Florrie Dugger
Florrie Dugger hasn't acted since Bugsy Malone but at least she went out with a bang. If you are going to be remembered for something, it might as well be for a fantastic production which can never be topped.
Blousey is a simple country girl with a beautiful voice who packs a suitcase and moves to Chicago with no money in her pocket. She dreams of being a showgirl in Fat Sam's club. Although she lacks the street-wise and independent attitude of other showgirls like the headliner Tallulah, she ends up being able to stand her ground when need be. She is certainly no mug and makes Bugsy work for her affection.
Fat Sam - John Cassisi
Like Flossie, John didn't stay in the world of showbiz long after Bugsy Malone which is a great shame. As the soft-hearted, less than bright tough guy owner of Fat Sam's club Cassisi was remarkable and in many ways stole the show. Fat Sam, as the name may suggest, was a roly poly club owner who insisted on the most beautiful girls working in his club. With Tallullah draped over his arm he commanded everyone's respect.
Fat Sam, had competition from Dandy Dan to run the town and didn't really have the smarts to organise himself and his posse well enough to beat him. Luckily, he did have enough smarts to get Bugsy on board.
Dandy Dan - Martin Lev
Sadly, after battling M.E. Martin Lev passed away in 1992 having not pursued a career in acting following Bugsy Malone.
Dandy Dan was an immaculate character always turned out in the best tailored suits with his moustache waxed just so and his hat tilted at just the right angle. He was a scheming man and often reminded me both physically and characteristically of a rat. Where Fat Sam didn't have the money or organisation to control the city, Dandy Dan did and he was determined to see him fall.
Tallulah - Jodie Foster
We all know of Jodie Foster's successful career. Bugsy was far from her first acting role but her performance was still outstanding. Although only fourteen, Foster played Tallulah as a sultry, sophisticated and wise woman who had been around the block a bit. Tallulah didn't start the film as the nicest of people and certainly gave Blousey cause to reconsider her decision to move to the city.
She is the star of the show and Fat Sam's moll, but secretly holds a torch for Bugsy. Her jealousy is certainly a reason why she is quite nasty to Blousey. You can't help but feel a sense of loneliness from her which is hard for any actor to portray, let alone a fourteen year old girl.
Bugsy Malone has a huge cast and some absolutely phenomenal supporting actors. Unfortunately, we would be here all day if I tried to write about them all individually but keep your eyes out for Baby Face, Leroy, and knuckles.
***What were the special effects like***
It being 1976 when Bugsy was made, there weren't any flashing screens or super-imposed Dinosaurs appearing out of nowhere. Instead this film relied on great sets, great acting and fantastic choreography. Even today, you will be hard pressed to find a fight scene as exciting as those you find in Bugsy Malone. The last scene in which a huge brawl breaks out in Fat Sam's club between his boys and those of Dandy Dan's is just magical to watch.
***What was the music like***
All the music was in fact dubbed over by adult singers however, if you like show tunes and great adrenalin pumping chants you will love the music. "Bad Guys" is one of my favourites sung by all the gangsters, and Tallulah's show song "My name is Tallulah" is fantastically entertaining but my absolute favourite is "Down and Out." This is the song sang when Bugsy is trying to recruit a bunch of workmen to join him against Dandy Dan. The scene sees the workers dancing on table tops and jumping around in expertly choreographed style to this fabulous, uplifting and motivating song. Even I wanted to join Fat Sam's gang when I heard it!
I'm not sure I would want to listen to the CD driving in the car or while reading a book, but when it is incorporated with this fantasy film it is perfect and you will find more than just your foot tapping no matter how hard you resist!
***What did I think of it***
They just don't make films like this anymore. Budgets for filming may be ten times higher now, but the scale of this film is unbeatable. It is funny as anything and entertaining from beginning until the very end. The kids involved outshone many of today's A list Actors with their charisma, style, and energy. This isn't a cute film simply because cute kids are dressed up to look like grown ups. It is so much more than that.
There is a witty and well thought out script, kids with an abundance of raw talent, music to lift the lowest spirits, gun fights and car chases which will see you rolling on the floor with laughter while still holding your breath with the suspense and there is romance to rival the likes of Pretty Woman and Dirty Dancing. All of this combines to create an ageless one in a million film which can be enjoyed by kids and adults worldwide. If you haven't seen this yet, you really, really must!
All the cast were 16 or under at the time of filming
In 2003 Bugsy Malone was voted #19 in a Channel 4 list of 100 greatest musicals before The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and The King and I.
Alan Parker went to a Brooklyn school looking for a kid to play the Fat Sam character and asked for the naughtiest kid in class. Everyone said it was John Cassissi which led to him being awarded the part.
Florrie Dugger was only meant to play a bit part in the film. It was only when the original actor cast to play Blowsey took a growth spurt, becoming taller than Scott Baio that Florrie was asked to replace her.
The film was nominated for an Oscar along with a further Nine industry awards and won five.
Dandy Dan: Okay fellas, this is it. This is our moment. Keep a cool head and keep those fingers pumpin' 'cause remember, it's history we're writing.
Tallulah: I like my men at my feet
Bugsy: Blousey Brown - Sounds like a stale loaf of bread
Bugsy Malone: Have you eaten?
Blousey Brown: Ever since I was a kid.
Bugsy Malone: Then how come you're so skinny, wisey?
Blousey Brown: Because I watch my weight.
Bugsy Malone: Yeah, I do that when I'm broke too.
Showgirl: I'm giving up guys. They're nothing but trouble, believe me. From now on, I'm looking for husbands. and I ain't getting too attached. I'm gonna change 'em regular, like a library book!
He's a sinner, candy-coated, for all his friends he always seems to be alone, but they love him...
I can tell you my birthday wish now because I'm fairly sure it's never going to come true. During the seventies whenever I had to blow out the candles I used to wish that I was one of the Brady Bunch. I don?t know where I thought I'd fit in, but I just thought they were fantastic. Sometime around then I remember watching Nationwide when they were showing the auditions for Annie in the West End. I thought it was a disgrace that they were only auditioning girls and I used to practice in front of the mirror dreaming of my big break.
Bugsy Malone brings together all those crazy childhood feelings of wanting to be a star and wanting to sing my way to happiness and wanting to be surrounded by other kids who lived to sing and dance. I loved it the first time I saw it and I loved it when I watched it with my three children last week.
The movie is set in prohibition-era America. Bugsy, our hero, works both sides of the law without doing any real harm. He makes his money scouting boxing talent and doing odd-jobs for Fat Sam, mob boss and owner of his own speakeasy.
One night at Fat Sam's where "anybody who is anybody will soon walk through the door," Bugsy bumps into a doll named Brown ("Brown? Sounds like a loaf of bread."). Blousey Brown ("Sounds like a stale loaf of bread.").
Blousey is there trying to audition for Sam to become one of his chorus girls but, like so many others before her, Sam tells her to come back tomorrow. The speakeasy is full of colourful characters such as Razamataz the bandleader; Tallulah, star performer and Sam's main squeeze and Fizzy the clumsy cleaner who dreams of being on the stage. Like Blousey, Fizzy is always being fobbed off with the carelessly cruel promise of "tomorrow". But when the club empties for the night and Fizzy is left alone to wash the floor he retrieves his dance shoes from their resting place and pours his heart into a song.
"Tomorrow never comes. What kind of a fool do they take me for?
Tomorrow - a resting place for bums, a trap set in the slums but I know the score.
I won't take no for an answer, I was born to be a dancer now."
Back on the street, Sam's gang of hoodlums take some time out to revel in their badness:
"We coulda been anything that we wanted to be.
But don't it make your heart glad?
That we decided - a fact we take pride in.
We became the best at being bad."
But there's trouble around the corner. Dandy Dan's rival mob have got their hands on a dangerous new weapon and they?re looking to muscle in on Fat Sam's action. The town ain't big enough for both Fat Sam and Dandy Dan. Before our tale is told, it's going to get real messy and not in the way you'd expect.
Along the way Bugsy uncovers a potential prizefighter, falls in love with Blousey and helps Sam fight back against the nasty tactics of Dandy Dan after Sam's boys are rubbed out.
Against almost insurmountable odds, our hero helps even the balance between the two rivals and sets the stage for the big rumble.
The recently released DVD restores this long deleted movie to its place in the forefront of post 60s musicals. The extras include a witty and warm full length commentary from writer/director Alan Parker as well as a tremendous feature which sets the finished movie against a detailed comic book-style storyboard so you can see where every shot came from and the development of the director's vision.
This was Alan Parker's first full-length film as a director. He had carried the idea of the movie around with him for a couple of years before a young producer called David Puttnam started to push him towards making the movie. They both knew the key was in the songs, but Parker didn't have a note in his head or any idea where to get one. Puttnam asked him who his first choice of songwriter was and Parker named Paul Williams. You may not think you know Paul Williams, but you know his work. Williams wrote the lyrics for 'Rainy Days and Mondays'. He put the words to 'We've Only Just Begun'. He shared an Oscar with Barbra for 'Evergreen'. Best of all, Paul Williams wrote about "the lovers, the dreamers and me" in my favourite Muppet moment - 'Rainbow Connection'. Williams took Alan Parker's vision and composed a near-perfect collection of songs ideally suited to the story and its characters. Perhaps the only false step in the whole process was the decision by Parker and Williams to have the actors mime the songs while professional singers were dubbed in. It was an artistic decision meant to stretch the fourth wall and further highlight the artifice of the production, but it still jars today as the original intention remains lost on the audience. On an interesting side note, in the climactic scene when the crashing piano chord gives the rival gangs pause, it is the voice of Paul Williams himself coming from the mouth of Razamataz the band leader.
The actors, many of them appearing in front of a camera for the first (and last) time are as good as you could expect. Scott Baio makes a charming and disarming Bugsy. He manages the little movements like setting his hat further back on his head with panache and he sells every one of Bugsy's lame jokes as if they were precious stones. Florrie Dugger as Blousey carries the weight of every young actress who arrives in the big city with stars in her eyes. World-weary yet inescapably optimistic about life and love, it's a winning performance.
The supporting cast are equally strong. Fat Sam and Tallulah are both played with verve and a sense of style. I know John Cassisi who played Sam never made another movie, but I haven't been able to trace the post-Bugsy career of Jodie Foster. Who knows what she got up to?
Further down the bill there are a few names worth spotting. Dexter Fletcher gets a big laugh for his small role as Babyface. Mark Curry, erstwhile presenter of Blue Peter, plays a theatre producer trying to lure his star played by Bonnie Langford back to the stage.
It's hard for me to express my affection for this movie. I remember searching for the soundtrack on cassette many years ago and being told it was only available on vinyl. I didn't have a record player. Then about four years ago I found the soundtrack on CD in a HMV store in Paris. Finally this year I used some of the free money I earned doing Internet surveys to bid for the DVD on Ebay. I knew that I loved the movie, but the big question was "does it still play in Peoria?"
I sat my three kids (9, 7 and 5) on the couch and gave them some information about Prohibition. I explained what a speakeasy was and how organized crime had grown powerful in a time where the will of the people rebelled against the draconian legislation of an over-protective government. Then I pressed play. Five minutes in my beautiful five year old flower said to me "What, daddy, all the grown-ups in it are children?" The boys were too astonished for questions. Days later they are still trying to catch all the words to 'So You Wanna Be a Boxer'. All we know for certain is that:
"You might as well quit,
If you haven't got it."
Bugsy Malone has 'it' in spades.
Bugsy Malone Special Edition is a Region 2 DVD rated U for Universal: Suitable for all.
Amazon.co.uk is selling the DVD for an amazing £6.99 and you can buy it together with the CD soundtrack for less than 15 quid. Get it for someone you like because, as the song says:
"You give a little love and it all comes back to you."
My wife and daughter are currently heavily involved in the school’s production of the stage version of ‘Bugsy Malone’, leaving me the opportunity to watch the latest instalment of the Champion’s League without fear of interruption from Eastenders or Popstars the Rivals. Actually I’m really looking forward to the production as I remember it was one of the first films we saw together way back in 1976 shortly after it was released and we really enjoyed it. The school has strength in depth in music and drama and over the last few years has put on some wonderfully professional productions in our local theatre, including many of the old favourites – Grease, Oliver, Little Shop of Horrors, Romeo and Juliet (the Abba version!) and an absolutely incredible performance of Sugar (the stage version of Some Like It Hot). From what I’ve seen of the rehearsals so far, this will be there with the best of them. We watched the DVD the other night as my wife is in charge of the costumes and wanted to check out Fat Sam’s ‘spats’ and my daughter plays the part of the radio announcer and thought it would help her refine her New York accent. The DVD was incredibly difficult to get hold of as it seems to have been withdrawn from the main DVD sites (Blackstar, Choices, etc.) and no longer sold at the local suppliers. I put in a bid for one at E-bay, and it eventually went for just short of £50! – way out of my price range, but as luck would have it I picked it up a couple of weeks ago in the sale bin of my local Woolworths for £9.99 just as I’d given up hope. Well worth the price it is too, excellent entertainment. For those of you who have not seen the film it is a wonderfully hilarious, spoof gangster musical about ‘prohibition era’ New York in 1929, with a cast entirely made up of children. It is set in a world of would-be hoodlums, showgirls, dreamers, speakeasi
es and a dreaded new weapon, ‘The Splurge Gun!’ Gang warfare breaks out all over the city as Fat Sam the diminutive Capone clone played by John Cassisi, battles for control of the Big Apple against his archrival Dandy Dan who has the edge because of his deadly employment of the Splurge Gun. The opening act sets the scene - a dark, rainy night in down town NY. Roxy Robinson rushes across the wet side-walk and takes refuge in a deserted alleyway. Suddenly, he realises his four pursuers have trapped him in a blind alley. What's more, the hoods are carrying the dreaded new weapon. In seconds, Roxy is splurged - the start of all the mayhem to follow. Double-crossing and custard pie fights are rife when our heroine Blousey Brown, played by the pretty Florrie Duggar, falls into bad company with gangsters Fat Sam and his jealous girlfriend, the sharp-tongued sultry night club singer Tallulah, played by a young and obviously talented, Jodie Foster. Blousy has come to the big city to find fame and fortune on her way to Hollywood and is eventually rescued by our hero Bugsy Malone (played by Scott Baio of ‘Happy Days’) who is dispatched by Fat Sam to steal the Splurge Gun. The best way to describe the action is non stop slapstick fun for children of all ages, very well produced and directed by Alan Parker, lightly mocking the childlike, selfish traits of grown-ups, full of clichés from films about organized crime, with frequent breaks for either a song or a huge custard pie fight as the gang war escalates. Its pokes fun at all the thirty’s gangster films using scaled down sets, with the hoods arriving on the scene in pedal driven imitations of the sort of the cars used by in films like the ‘Untouchables’. The movie is choc a bloc with some excellent songs and rollocking catchy tunes from the wonderful Paul Williams, including ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Bad Guys’, ‘Fat Sam̵
7;s Grand Slam’, ‘My Name is Talullah’, ‘You Give a Little Love’ and of course the title track ‘Bugsy Malone’. The acting, lip-synched singing (all dubbed by adult vocalists) and dancing is very enjoyable It's a great family movie giving children the opportunity of watching a production where a fight involves food, not fists, with guns shooting whipped cream rather than bullets and not a drop of blood in sight. The DVD is relatively short and has few extras - interactive menus and a scene index, but it’s a great movie to watch with family and the kids will love it – if you can find it that is. Check out Woolworths’ sale bin! At £50 on e-bay it sound like agood investment.
Writer-director Alan Parker's feature debut Bugsy Malone is a pastiche of American movies, a musical gangster comedy set in 1929, featuring prohibition, showgirls and gang warfare, with references to everything from Some Like It Hot to The Godfather. Uniquely, though, all the parts are played by children, including an excellent if underused Jodie Foster as platinum-blonde singer Tallulah, Scott Baio in the title role and a nine-year-old Dexter Fletcher wielding a baseball bat. Cream-firing "spluge guns" side-step any real violence and the movie climaxes cheerfully with the biggest custard pie fight this side of Casino Royale (1967). Unfortunately for a musical, Paul Williams' score--part honky-tonk jazz homage, part 1970s Elton John-style pop--lets the side down with a lack of memorable tunes. Nevertheless, Parker's direction is spot on and the look of the film is superb, a fantasy movie-movie existing in the same parallel reality as The Cotton Club and Chicago. A rare British love letter to classic American cinema, Bugsy Malone remains a true original; in Parker's words "the work of a madman" and one of the strangest yet most stylish children's films ever made. On the DVD: Bugsy Malone's picture is presented non-anamorphically at 1.66:1, with rich colours and plenty of detail. The print is excellent. The audio is stereo only and while full and clear seems to leave a hole in the middle of the soundstage. Extras include an informative commentary by Parker, eight pages of trivia notes by Parker and a very informative 12-page booklet, also by the director. There are three trailers, nine character profiles, two scored galleries, and more imaginatively, a multi-angle option to compare Parker's sketches, their comic-strip realisation by Graham Thomson and the finished opening sequence. Quality over quantity make this a strong collection of extras, though recollections from the stars would have added so much more. --Gary S. Dalkin