Directed by Alan Parker
A pint-sized cast illuminates this musical that is unlike any other ever made. Set in 1929 New York City, Bugsy Malone captures a flashy world of would-be hoodlums, showgirls, and dreamers - all played by child actors! As Tallulah, the sassy girlfriend of the owner of Fat Sam's Grand Slam Speakeasy, future superstar Jodie Foster dances and sings her way into our hearts.
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★★★★ review by Andy Summers on Letterboxd
There are some films that no matter how old you get still have an appeal. Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone had a magical touch back in 1976 for this seven year old and its stuck with me ever since. A gangster themed musical with kids playing the leads sounds like a nightmare, but this one gets by as an entertaining film for all the family.
A Prohibition era set musical that couldn't be more kiddie orientated if it tried, Bugsy Malone is full of fun from the off. Kids playing gangsters vying for control of Sarsaparilla joints and using custard pies and cream-shooting "splurge-guns" as weapons, this is a riot of a film, especially if you're a kid. Packed full of catchy tunes and all those normal traits associated with a kids film, a goodie, a baddie, a romance, and a happy ending, they just don't make them like this anymore.
Sir Alan Parker has made better films in his career, but this has a nostalgia factor for me. Surely one of the first films I ever saw at the cinema, it brought back memories of those little ice-cream tubs with the tiny wooden spoons and ushers with fancy uniforms and flashlights. It also had a 13 year old Jodie Foster looking like a veteran and soon-to-be Fonzie sidekick Scott Baio ready for stardom. Dexter Fletcher also took his acting bow in this film, and just look at him now. Some of the other child actors though were not so lucky. Martin Lev who played Dandy Dan committed suicide back in 92' after struggling to cope with M.E, so maybe it wasn't a happy ending for everyone.
Still entertaining all these years later, this is, as Shaun would say, a slice of fried gold.
★★★★★ review by Jak-Luke Sharp on Letterboxd
Rank Library. Apple TV
“So this is show business”
Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone is a fabulous testament to the utterly outrageous depth and versatility of a brilliant, but often forgotten director. Parker’s film is beautifully shot, beautifully told homage to gangster epics. You’ll see Public Enemy, Little Caesar and even Coppola’s The Godfather. Brilliantly playful and expertly crafted in a satirical manner. Bugsy Malone also boasts one hell of an outstanding soundtrack.
★★★★ review by Don on Letterboxd
Not many people know this, but Alan Parker's eldest son was a certified genius. I don't know if he had a high IQ, but he conceived the wholly original and frankly brilliant idea of making a movie with all characters being played by under-17's. Alan Parker intelligently listened to his son, and created one of the most popular musicals of all time, destined to be used as a showcase in kids drama classes forever, even if it didn't receive commercial success when first released in 1976. Audiences missed out, because Bugsy Malone is a often hilarious, surprisingly well-acted parody of gangster movies with a fantastic soundtrack and stellar directorial choices from a début director, Alan Parker, who was then best known for his adverts and made-for-TV films No Hard Feelings and The Refugees.
Centralized on mob boss Fat Sam and his efforts to stop rival mob boss Dandy Dan from taking over his crime empire, Bugsy Malone sounds more like The Godfather than The Wizard of Oz. However, Parker lightens the mood considerably by swapping bullets for artificial cream and violence for... Well, toned-down violence. This may sound stupid, but Bugsy Malone could easily act as a child's introduction to The Godfather, and I'm all for getting kids into the classics. We don't want to end up like books, do we?
The reason why the film is so endearing, almost forty years on, is because of the kids. Bugsy Malone has a sort of timelessness about it because the child actors here are all the best of the best (Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, the late Martin Lev and even Bonnie Langford makes a precocious cameo) and if there's any reason to watch, it's for their exuberant performances. I've always wondered whether Bugsy Malone would have worked as a straight-up, adult-acted mob film, and unfortunately, I realise now that the answer is no. Director/writer Alan Parker's script is too formulaic and clichéd to work, though here it succeeded because Bugsy Malone is a perceptive parody, and not an average gangster movie. Also, without the likes of predictably wonderful Jodie Foster and Scott Baio, there wouldn't be that effortless, idiosyncratic charm that laces the whole movie, would there?
Everything I've Seen In 2014 Ranked ~> letterboxd.com/matthewdon2002/list/from-best-to-worst-everything-ive-seen-in/
For more of my thoughts on child actors and the recognition they don't receive but deserve, check out my review of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom here (self-promotion is okay) ~> letterboxd.com/matthewdon2002/film/moonrise-kingdom/
★★★½ review by Adriana Scarpin on Letterboxd
Esse filme é tão fofo, parece uma versão mais crescida e elaborada do Baby Burlesk da Shirley Temple, só que aqui não tem como ter ataque moralista por parte de ninguém (ao menos espero que não), crianças mais “crescidas” interpretando gangsters, os carros são a pedal e as malditas metralhadoras atiram chantilly, meu deus. Aquele menino que interpreta o Fat Sam é a glória.
★★★★½ review by Dawson Joyce on Letterboxd
Taking an idea that could've led to horrible results and executing it in the absolute best way possible, Alan Parker's Bugsy Malone is chock-full of fun characters, well-choreographed musical numbers, catchy tunes, great performances, strong storytelling, thrilling action, and fantastic set designs.
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