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24 July 2011

Bugsy Malone (1976) [Musical Film-a-Thon] 4#

Directed by: Alan Parker
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Family
Runtime: 93 Minutes 
All singing, all dancing in the times of the depression, Bugsy Malone is a film with a cast consisting of kids, and kids only. It’s a whole lot of fun and it’s full of some pretty good songs. The songs and set pieces are still fresh and infectious and most of the child cast are mesmerizingly good. At first the notion seems alarming: a gangster movie cast entirely with kids. Especially when we learn that "Bugsy Malone" isn't intended as a kid's movie so much as a cheerful comment on the childlike values and behaviour in classic Hollywood crime films. Despite that it’s a great film. In terms of good acting, the kids did a great job. It’s an unusual kind of film and pretty goofy when you think about it, but it’s a warm and clever experience that can be enjoyed by all ages.

Set in a mythical Prohibition America, and pretty much the time of the great depression, free-wheeling hero Bugsy Malone finds himself in the middle of a gang war between Fat Sam and Dandy Dan, two kid-played characters who are in the gangster business. As things hot up, he corals a bunch of down-and-outs to fight the cause, while trying to impress Blousey Brown, a new girl in town desperate to make it as a singer. 

The cast as I said are all of kids and this lot of children running around in tuxes, we have a young Jodie Foster appearing as the charismatic Tallulah, a singer and dancer at Fat Sam’s speak easy. The film automatically gets points from me for being based during some of my favourite pieces of history, times of speak-easies, prohibition, flappers and around the time the great (but unforgettably evil) Al Capone. The set pieces, costumes and locations where terrifically authentic and ultimately felt like the late 20’s, early 30’s. All the violence here involves cream pies and cream-loaded "splurge guns," there's still menace behind it and characters do "die" of their cream-filled wounds. There are cream massacres and cream-pie hits. I’m not exactly sure about the rules of these guns because at first it seems they must kill people when they are hit, but in the finale scene the splurge guns are used and pies are thrown everywhere, but everyone is alive. It is a huge mistake bit it’s something that can be forgiven and forgotten. 

The music was more than okay and this one of my earliest musical experiences. My favourite song would be “We could have been anything we wanted to be”, it was a fun number and had a great tune. The songs are all of course voiced by adults, but are mimed by the child actors which give it an odd energetic chemistry. The songs are fun and memorable, I mean come on, it’s kids with middle aged singing voices. Featuring kids in tuxes, speak-easies and even the classic Tommy Guns replaced with Splurge guns, it’s a minor masterpiece of it’s time. It is certainly a cute oddity, mostly because of the talent in front and behind the camera, especially Foster and Parker. It is a very fun film for sure as with most musicals, but this one is goofy, frantic and energetic. Bugsy Malone is a singing and dancing kid filled musical that has a feel good finale.

My Rating: 7/10

1 comment:

  1. Nice review! I've never heard of this and it doesn't seem like my cup of tea but I enjoyed reading about it! -Kyle, CinematicMethod.com

    ReplyDelete

 

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