Bugsy (1991)


Starring: Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Joe Mantegna, Bill Graham (in a posthumous appearance), Elliott Gould

Director: Barry Levinson

Summary: The famed gangster running the mobs in Los Angeles tries to turn Las Vegas into a vacation paradise

Other Nominations: Director, Actor (Beatty), Supporting Actor (Keitel), Supporting Actor (Kingsley), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Art Direction*, Cinematography, Costume Design*

Fairly solid biopic on mobster Bugsy Siegel. Beatty and Bening are both very good here, with Beatty playing Bugsy as unhinged and violent flying off the handle at the drop of a hat, a big dreamer and obsessed with Virginia Hill (Bening), yet Beatty is able to make him still quite charming to an extent. Their poisonous relationship is the heart of the film and is done pretty well, with Hill being the classic “woman who led her man to ruin”, but you can’t say he didn’t deserve it. Besides the lead performances and Bugsy’s character, the other thing I liked is the general look of the film, which does a great job of recreating 1940s Los Angeles.

Maybe it’s because I’m gangstered out (3 of the last 4 movies I’ve watched for this project have been about the mafia), but this one didn’t fully click for me. The “Bugsy want’s to personally assassinate Mussolini” subplot should have been dropped-I get that it shows him as a dreamer and as a bit unhinged, but the rest of the movie develops those themes perfectly well and it’s just kind of there, divorced from the rest of the well-focused story. Also, even for biopic standards, it takes huge dramatic license when it comes to his role in building The Flamingo Hotel and Vegas in general-Bugsy Siegel did not come up with the idea of The Flamingo, he just bought a ⅔ stake once the project was well underway). In general, there’s plenty of good aspects and nothing REALLY off about the film, but it never fully engaged me.

Rating: B-


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