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Bugsy Malone
Bugsy malone movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Charles Moll
Directed by Alan Parker
Produced by Alan Marshall
Written by Alan Parker
Starring
Music by Paul Williams
Cinematography
  • Peter Biziou
  • Michael Seresin
Editing by Gerry Hambling
Distributed by Fox-Rank Distributors (United Kingdom)
Paramount Pictures (United States)
Release date(s) September 15, 1976 (1976-09-15)
Running time 93 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language
  • English
  • Italian
Budget £575,000-£1 million
Money made $2.8 million

Bugsy Malone is a 1976 gangster musical comedy film written and directed by Alan Parker. The film was Parker's feature film directorial debut. A co-production of United States and United Kingdom, it features child actors playing adult roles, with Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, and John Cassisi in major roles. The film tells the story of the rise of "Bugsy Malone" and the battle for power between "Fat Sam" and "Dandy Dan".

Set in New York City, it is a gangster movie spoof, substituting machine guns that fire gobs of whipped cream instead of bullets. The film is based loosely on events in New York and Chicago during Prohibition era, specifically the exploits of real-life gangsters such as Al Capone and Bugs Moran. Parker lightened the subject matter considerably for the children's market, and the film received a G rating in the U.S.

Bugsy Malone premiered at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or. The film was released theatrically in the UK on 12 July 1976 by Fox-Rank Distributors, and in the U.S. by Paramount Pictures. The film was a commercial success in the UK but not in other territories. It received acclaim from critics for its screenplay, musical numbers, unique narrative and performances of the cast (particularly Foster's).

In 2003, was voted #19 on a list of the 100 greatest musicals, as chosen by viewers of Channel 4 in the UK. In 2008, Empire ranked it 353rd on their list of 500 greatest movies of all time. The film received eight nominations at the 30th British Academy Film Awards, including Best Film and won three: Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles for Foster and Best Screenplay for Parker. The film also received three nominations at the 34th Golden Globe Awards including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Plot

During the prohibition era, a mobster named Roxy Robinson is "splurged" by members of a gang, using rapid-fire cream-shooting "splurge guns". Once splurged, a kid is "all washed up... finished". Speakeasy boss Fat Sam introduces himself and Bugsy Malone, a boxing promoter with no money ("Bugsy Malone").

At Fat Sam's speakeasy, there is much dancing and singing ("Fat Sam's Grand Slam"). Fat Sam is worried that his rival Dandy Dan will try to take control of the speakeasy. Blousey Brown, an aspiring singer, has come for an audition, but Sam is too distracted to see her. Bugsy meets Blousey when he trips over her luggage. He is smitten and flirts with her. Fat Sam's is raided by Dandy Dan's men, who shoot up the place. Dandy Dan's men continue to attack Fat Sam's empire, eventually taking away rackets and splurging members of Fat Sam's gang. Fat Sam sends all his available men, except Knuckles, to see if they can track down the guns. They are ambushed at a laundry and splurged by Dandy Dan's gang.

Bugsy returns to Fat Sam's to arrange a new audition for Blousey. Fat Sam's girlfriend, the chanteuse Tallulah, makes a pass at him. Although Bugsy rejects her flirtation, Tallulah plants a big kiss on Bugsy's forehead when Blousey enters; Blousey is jealous. Fat Sam hires Blousey after her audition, but she refuses to speak to Bugsy ("I'm Feelin' Fine").

Fat Sam hires Bugsy to accompany him to a meeting with Dandy Dan. The meeting is a trap, but Bugsy helps Fat Sam escape. Gratefully, Fat Sam pays him $200. Bugsy and Blousey reconcile and have a romantic outing on a lake; Bugsy promises to take her to Hollywood. When he returns Sam's car to the garage, he is attacked and his money is stolen. Bugsy is saved by Leroy Smith, who assaults the attackers and drives them away. Bugsy realizes that Leroy has the potential to be a great boxer. Bugsy introduces Leroy to Cagey Joe and helps him train ("So You Wanna Be a Boxer?"). Fat Sam again seeks Bugsy's aid after Knuckles is accidentally killed by a malfunctioning splurge gun prototype. Bugsy resists, but Fat Sam offers $400, enough money to keep his promise to Blousey. Blousey is disappointed when she learns that Bugsy hasn't bought the tickets to California yet ("Ordinary Fool"). Bugsy and Leroy follow Dandy Dan's men to a warehouse, where the guns are being stashed. The two of them can't take the place alone, so Bugsy recruits a large group of down-and-out workers at a soup kitchen ("Down and Out").

They steal the crates of guns and take them to Fat Sam's, arriving just as Dandy Dan's gang arrives. Chaos ensues as a massive splurge gun fight erupts, covering everyone (except Bugsy and Blousey) with cream. Unarmed patrons throw cream pies. The piano player is hit from behind and falls onto the keys, striking a single bass note. The tone silences the room, and the cream-covered crowd performs in a final number ("You Give a Little Love"). They realize they can all be friends, and Bugsy and Blousey leave for Hollywood.

Cast

  • Scott Baio as Bugsy Malone, an Italian-Irish ex-boxer/boxing scout
  • Florrie Dugger as Blousey Brown, a sassy young dame interested in Hollywood
  • Jodie Foster as Tallulah, Fat Sam's gun moll, the speakeasy's chanteuse and Bugsy's old flame
  • John Cassisi as Fat Sam Staccetto, crime boss. He is dubbed by the press as "The Alleged Mobster King of the Lower East Side".
  • Martin Lev as Dandy Dan, rival gang boss who steals Fat Sam's territory (Lev died in 1992 20 days before his 33rd birthday)
  • Paul Murphy as Leroy Smith, an African-American tramp who discovers he has a talent for boxing
  • Sheridan Earl Russell as Knuckles, Fat Sam's main hoodlum who constantly cracks his knuckles
  • Albin 'Humpty' Jenkins as Fizzy, Caretaker at Fat Sam's Grand Slam, tap dancer
  • Paul Chirelstein as Smolsky, dim-witted police captain
  • Andrew Paul as O'Dreary, dumb policeman
  • Jeffrey Stevens as Louis, one of Fat Sam's hoodlums
  • Donald Waugh as Snake Eyes, one of Fat Sam's hoodlums
  • Peter Holder as Ritzy, one of Fat Sam's hoodlums
  • Michael Kirkby as Angelo, one of Fat Sam's hoodlums
  • Dexter Fletcher as Baby Face, down and out
  • Davidson Knight as Cagey Joe, the boxing gym owner
  • John Williams as Roxy Robinson, Fat Sam's best bodyguard, splurged by Dandy Dan's gang
  • Bonnie Langford as Lena Marelli, showy, pompous theatre performer
  • Mark Curry as Oscar DeVelt, stuck-up theatre producer
  • Jonathan Scott-Taylor as News Reporter
  • Sarah E. Joyce as Smokey Priscilla, showgirl, Tallulah's Troupe
  • Helen Corran as Bangles, showgirl, Tallulah's Troupe
  • Kathy Spaulding as Loretta, showgirl, Tallulah's Troupe
  • Sharon Noonan as Coco, showgirl, Tallulah's Troupe
  • Vivienne McKone as Velma, showgirl, Tallulah's Troupe
  • Lynn Aulbaugh as Louella, Dandy Dan's wife and polo partner
  • Michael Jackson as Razamatazz, Fat Sam's personal pianist and performer at the Grand Slam Speakeasy (Not Michael Jackson)
  • Louise English as Ballerina Mel

Soundtrack

The album was originally released as an LP in 1976. In March 1996, Polydor UK released the soundtrack on CD.

Performers include Paul Williams, Archie Hahn, Julie McWhirter, and Liberty Williams. The track listing is:

  1. "Bugsy Malone" – Paul Williams
  2. "Fat Sam's Grand Slam" – Paul Williams
  3. "Tomorrow"
  4. "Bad Guys"
  5. "I'm Feeling Fine"
  6. "My Name Is Tallulah" – Louise "Liberty" Williams
  7. "So You Wanna Be a Boxer?"
  8. "Ordinary Fool"
  9. "Down and Out"
  10. "You Give a Little Love" – Paul Williams

A cast recording of the National Youth Music Theatre stage version of Bugsy Malone was released in 1998. Like the stage show, this recording featured two songs originally written by Williams, but not used in the film: "That's Why They Call Him Dandy" and "Show Business". There is also some additional incidental orchestral score, such as an Overture and Exit Music, with music arranged by John Pearson.

Charts

Chart (1976) Position
Australia (Kent Music Report) 75

Personnel

  • Background Singers – Jerry Whitman, James E. Haas, Lewis E. Morford, Ronald Hicklin, Sukey Smith
  • Bass – Colin Cameron
  • Brass – Michael Natalie, Roger DeLilio, Vincent Trombetta
  • Drums, Percussion – Gary Mallaber
  • Guitar, Banjo – Art Munson
  • Keyboards, Saxophone Solo – David Garland
  • Featured Singers – Archie_Hahn_(actor), Julie McWhirter, Liberty Williams
  • Featured Singers, Electric Piano, Moog - Paul Williams

Legacy

In 2003, Bugsy Malone was voted #19 on a list of the 100 greatest musicals, as chosen by viewers of Channel 4 in the UK, placing it higher than The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and The King and I. In 2005, Bugsy Malone was voted 39th on a list of the 100 greatest family films (also compiled by Channel 4) ahead of Beetlejuice and The Princess Bride and behind Bedknobs and Broomsticks and It's a Wonderful Life. Bugsy Malone ranks 353rd on Empire Magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.

Bugsy Malone has been adapted into a stage show in two forms. A 2003 television documentary called Bugsy Malone: After They Were Famous features a reunion and interviews with Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, John Cassisi, and Florrie Dugger. The British actors who played Fat Sam's gang are also reunited at Pinewood Studios. The documentary reported that Dugger, who (unlike her co-stars) had never acted again, had chosen to pursue a career in the United States Air Force Medical Service.

In 2010, UK band Silvery included a cover of "You Give a Little Love" on their second album Railway Architecture, and Olly Murs, runner-up in the 2009 UK series of The X Factor, sampled "So You Wanna Be a Boxer" in his song "Hold On" that can be found on his debut album.

In 2011, the film was the most screened film in secondary schools in the United Kingdom.

In 2017, the song "You Give A Little Love" was sung by a children's chorus at the end of a Netflix Black Mirror episode (Season 4 episode 3 "Crocodile").

Some time in the 2000s, Coca-Cola Ltd. (Canada) made an animated ad using 'You Give A Little Love' that was only screened in movie theaters before any trailers.

The song "Ordinary Fool" has been covered by numerous artists including Ella Fitzgerald and The Carpenters.

Stage adaptation

Parker wrote the book for a stage adaptation of Bugsy Malone, using Williams' music. This premiered in the West End in 1983 at Her Majesty's Theatre and ran for 300 performances. It was directed by Michael Dolenz and the cast featured Catherine Zeta-Jones as Tallulah. In 1997, the National Youth Music Theatre mounted an all-youth version. It was revived at the Queen's Theatre in 1997, starring Sheridan Smith and Jamie Bell. Another revival played in 2015 and again in 2016 at the Lyric Hammersmith theatre, where it was nominated for the Olivier Award for best musical revival.

Comic book adaptation

Graham Thompson adapted the film into a 1976 comic book, which was only released in the United Kingdom.

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