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Wick's Review

Created Jun 19, 2008 12:20AM PST • Edited Jan 04, 2015 10:43AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    A glamorous take on the gangster who gave us modern Las Vegas, Bugsy was Hollywood legend Warren Beatty’s last great role, complemented in no small measure by the potent chemistry he achieved with future wife Annette Bening.

    Though a commercial disappointment, the movie has aged well, full of snappy patter and sleek visuals. As if to prove this point, while garnering Oscar nominations for acting, directing, script and even Best Picture, the only Academy Awards it actually won were for Art Direction and Costumes. Like I said, sleek.

  3. Really Great 4.5

    Warren Beatty was born to play amoral thug Bugsy Siegel, a virile charmer seduced by Hollywood. Annette Bening, who Beatty met making this movie, more than stands up to him as an impossibly glamorous sexpot.

    The supporting cast ably matches the charisma of the superstar leads: Harvey Keitel, as legendary mobster Micky Cohen, Ben Kingsley and Elliott Gould as kingpin and putz wiseguys respectively, not to mention Bebe Neuwirth and Joe Mantegna as Hollywood denizens.

  4. Male Stars Really Great 4.5
  5. Female Stars Really Great 4.5
  6. Female Costars Really Great 4.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Great 4.0

    Perhaps a bit long at 2 1/2 hours, the production is otherwise accomplished and enjoyable.

  9. Direction Great 4.0

    Director-Producer Barry Levinson celebrates Golden Age Hollywood while cleverly tweaking it, never more artfully than when he shoots Beatty and Bening in silhouette, using the movie screen at Bugsy’s Beverly Hills mansion as a kind of reverse X-Ray vision. In Hollywood, it’s not what’s inside that counts; the quality of the profile is all.

  10. Play Really Great 4.5

    The rapid fire dialogue brings to mind Hollywood movies from the Golden Age. Yet many lines flaunt post-sexual liberation Hollywood.

    Bugsy – Got a light?
    Virginia – The way you were looking at me, I thought you were going to ask for something more interesting.

    Now that’s entertainment!

  11. Music Great 4.0
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    The clothes, the mansions, the cars, the clubs. The recreation of Ciro’s nightclub typifies the movie: this is an ode to a lost era of exquisite Hollywood glamor.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.0
  15. Sex Titillating 1.9
  16. Violence Fierce 2.0
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.1
  18. Glib 1.6

    Remember, in Hollywood “Based on a true story means bring on the dancing girls.” Here that means, amongst other fibs, that the real originator of the Flamingo, William Wilkerson, never makes it into the picture. And Bugsy’s brother-in-law fails to join him for the hit on Big Greenie, replaced instead by the much sexier Virginia Hill. As it happens, she was the one who procured the fabulous Beverly Hills house they lived in, not Bugsy with a bag full of cash as the movie would have it. You can look it all up in the Wikipedia Bugsy Siegel entry.

    The Wilkerson omission aside, the rest of the above seems like basically small potatoes. More importantly, Bugsy shines an interesting light on the “Golden Age” of the American mafia, especially its often overlooked Jewish contingent, led by Bugsy’s close cohort Meyer Lansky, played here with quiet authority by Ben Kingsley.

  19. Circumstantial Glib 2.0
  20. Biological Glib 1.7
  21. Physical Natural 1.0


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