Bugsy represents an almost miraculous combination of director, writer, and star on a project that represents a career highlight for everyone involved. It's one of the best American gangster movies ever made--as good in its... more » own way as any of the Godfather films--and it's impossible to imagine anyone better than Beatty in the movie's flashy title role. As notorious mobster and Las Vegas visionary "Bugsy" Siegel, Beatty is perfectly cast as a man whose dreams are greater than his ability to realize them--or at least, greater than his ability to stay alive while making those dreams come true. With a glamorous Hollywood mistress (Annette Bening) who shares Bugsy's dream while pursuing her own upwardly mobile agenda, Bugsy seems oblivious to threats when he begins to spend too much of the mob's money on the creation of the Flamingo casino. Meyer Lansky (Ben Kingsley) and Mickey Cohen (Harvey Keitel) will support Bugsy's wild ambition to a point, after which all bets are off, and Bugsy's life hangs in the balance. From the obvious chemistry of Beatty and Bening (who met and later married off-screen) to the sumptuous reproduction of 1940s Hollywood, every detail in this movie feels impeccably right. Beatty is simply mesmerizing as the man who invented Las Vegas but never saw it thrive, moving from infectious idealism to brutal violence in the blink of an eye. Director Barry Levinson is also in peak form here, guiding the stylish story with a subtle balance of admiration and horror; we can catch Bugsy's Vegas fever and root for the gangster's success, but we know he'll get what he deserves. We might wish that Bugsy had lived to see his dream turn into a booming oasis, but the movie doesn't suggest that we should shed any tears. --Jeff Shannon« less
Jason C. (JJC) from NEWARK, NJ Reviewed on 1/30/2008...
A gangster flick I'm quite fond of is "Bugsy," a very well-done film about legendary gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in his later years when he meets an instantly falls in love with Virginia Hill, a would-be singer/actress who "got around in Hollywood."
The film starts off with Bugsy, still in league with his childhood street-buddies Charley "Lucky" Luciano and Meyer Lansky, en route to Hollywood on a business meeting which then turns into his official base of operations when he takes over a gambling operation from crime boss Jack Dragna. While there, he meets Virginia Hill, the woman that would change his womanizing ways forever, and introduce him to the world of true love.
Bugsy was known for being a handsome and charming thug, very popular amongst the ladies; even putting them above all things including money and power. Always wore the best wardrobe and made sure things were in order. The film really gets into the charming side of the man, the well-spoken side, and of course the notorious, insane side; especially when you called him 'Bugsy' to his face.
The film also gets into what Bugsy was best known for, the creation of Las Vegas as we know it today. Of course I'm talking about The Flamingo, the hotel/casino that Bugsy had constructed in the middle of the Nevada desert. The construction went severely over budget which had a hand in the fate of Ben Siegel.
Lavishly classy sets, top-notch costumes and beautiful cinematography make this a class A piece of film, directed by Barry Levinson ("Rain Man", "Diner"). Warren Beatty gives, what I think to be, the performance of his career...as well as solid support by, well the whole cast!!
"Bugsy" is a different kind of gangster film, but it works and it's very true to the real-life events!!
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Dark Mechanicus JSG | Fortified Bunker, USSA | 05/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bugsy Siegel: mobster lunatic visionary, poet, prophet, a mercurial monster and marketing supergenius, a living contradiction, a man known to fly into a wild rage if a stranger called him "Bugsy" to his face, who simultaneously encouraged his Nom De Guerre among his friends, his enemies, and his publicists.
Bugsy Siegel, who revelled in his gangster image, even had screen-tests shot of himself with a Tommy-gun looking hard and "blazing" away at the screen---this hardboiled felon worked slavishly at English diction to erase traces of his Brooklyn brogue.
A suave wildman and visionary who made water---and money---flow in the middle of the desert, and even volunteered his services to put a bullet through Mussolini's heart. '
Now: to crawl over the crater-pocked landscape of cinematic exposition here would be a bore and a waste, compared to the embarrassment of riches that is Barry Levinson's masterpiece "Bugsy", a flick that will go down with "Scarface", "The Godfather", "Goodfellas", and "Heat" as one of the greatest gangster classics of all time. This is a gorgeous, sumptuous, lush, seductive movie. Watch it.
You're in competent hands here, Gangster. Check that Tommy-gun and let's add up the bar tab on this piece of work---you remember things from "Bugsy", forever, seared into memory because that's just how good this movie is:
*Bugsy (Warren Beatty, at an effortless best) catching the scent of a woman and waking up with her hours later, setting the stage;
*Bugsy kicking the tar out of a mobster who lewdly insults new gangster moll Virginia Hill (played winsomely by an insanely delectable Annette Bening), kicking the thug into yesteryear---and still checking his hair in the glass;
*Bugsy, eyes covered in cucumber-slices, lounging in terry-cloth with crony mobster Mickey Cohen (the incomparable Harvey Keitel, underplaying it masterfully) by the pool;
*Cohen and Bugsy, framed against the bleak Nevada desert, suits crisp, sky searing cobalt blue, plotting a gambling Sin-iverse, Virginia Hill stealing off to LA in a steely dorsal-finned Cadillac;
*Bugsy and a pauncy, childish, confused Harry Greenberg (Elliott Gould, packing lots of flesh) going for a 'ride';
*Bugsy, eyes cloaked in stylish tech-noir shades, fulminating against Meyer Lansky's (Ben Kingsley, in fine form) accountants, who serve as the vanguard of the Mob protest against the Flamingo's ever-skyrocketing cost overruns, the sand, the silt, the callousness;
*Bugsy forcing a mobster to crawl on the floor of his office, barking like a dog---and Virginia Hill, realizing the blood of a cruel monster that flows through her mercurial lover's veins, passionately kissing his hand---
*Virginia Hill and Bugsy parting, at the biplane. This is a scene seared in my memory: a classic, like the "We'll always have Paris" Bogey line. Fog. Mist. Merciless Weather. The Mob, moving in for the Kill.
Bugsy Siegel was a shark in human skin, the American Dream made flesh. He deserved a great cinematic biography: Levinson delivers in spades. Watch this one, it's for the Ages: if you don't love it, you don't have a pulse.
A gangster movie with style
scherf.com | Las Vegas, NV USA | 10/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story about Bugsy Siegel is well documented in this motion picture, although not historically accurate in details, but it doesn't matter as the character and the story of Bugsy comes across very well. The notorious gangster who is credited with bringing high-class gaming to Las Vegas, is played by Warren Beatty. We think it's Beatty's best role so far ... he really plays very good, and so does Annette Bening as Virginia Hill. Siegel was a dreamer, a visionary and a ladies' man no doubt. The movie is inspiring about pursuing your vision, but it is also a warning against wrong affiliations. The set and styling (cars, clothes, etc.) are just great and they look absolutely authentic. The script is also very well written, the cinematogrpahy is excellent, and the soundtrack fits perfectly, and it's certainly one of the best gangster movies ever made."
A cinematic masterpiece! It's what movies should be.
John K. Reed | Harrisburg, PA United States | 11/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The sets, costumes, cars, clothes, hairstyles, and music were perfectly chosen to take you back to Los Angeles in the 40's. Nuff said.The dialogue was absolutely brilliant and Ms. Benning's performance is reminiscent of the glamour, style, and crassness that i'm sure was characteristic of many of the Hollywood actresses of the day. I remember thinking when I saw her... Now that's a movie star! And her delivery of many of the classic one liners was fabulous. Unfortunately I couldn't repeat the vulgarity online but it was classic.Barry Levinson's direction is as always fabulous. His use of camera angles, lighting, depth of field, setup, and overlays was perfect. The scene where Ms Benning first comes over to Bugsy's house was beyond perfectly shot. I would also highly recommend Avalon and Mr Levinson's television work Homicide for quality viewing.Warren Beatty's performance as Bugsy Siegel was masterful. It's hard to imagine that someone as complex as apparently Bugsy was could be personified so flawlessly. Bugsy was a man of many passions. How one man could be so brutal yet compassionate, stylish yet crude, brilliant but foolish, selfish yet concerned is amazing. And Beatty brings all those elements to his portrayal of Bugsy. An incredibly complex individual.Just check it out. You won't be disappointed. One of my 10 favorite films of all time!"
What Can I Say? It's Perfect!
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 05/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't remember the last time I rented a movie sat down and enjoyed a picture as much as I did with this one. Just renting it yesterday I'm left with one thing to say: ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! I'm not really a Warren Beatty fan. I enjoy his work in some films but not all of them. While I thought he turned in a good performance I have to admit I was much more taken with the performances by Annette Benning,Harvey Keitel,Joe Mantegna,and of course Ben Kingsley. A perfect ensemble of characters all directed very stylishly by Barry Levinson. Not to mention a screenplay equally as effective. This movie just isn't for fans of "mob" movies,but more so for people who enjoy watching great movies in general. Keep your eyes on the prodution and costumes designs which deservingly won Oscars. A feast for the eyes of movie lovers!"
One Of My Favorite Movies
Jeffrey Timko | 03/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Bugsy" will always draw unfair comparison to "GoodFellas", that other classic gangster film of the 1990s, but everyone must realize that they are as different as night and day. "Bugsy" is an old-fashioned gangster movie, set during the glorious old days of Hollywood. It has more in common with "The Public Enemy" than with "GoodFellas". Barry Levinson seems to be a chameleon as a director. There are his personal films - his Baltimore trilogy ("Diner", "Tin Men", and "Avalon"). Sometimes he seems like nothing but a hired hand - "Good Morning Vietnam", "Disclosure", and "Sphere". Other times he's made good films when he's been a hired hand, like "The Natural" and "Rain Man". He made those better films than they may have been if they had been directed by someone else. I'm not sure if Levinson or someone else deserves most of the credit for how great "Bugsy" is. I might want to say James Toback does, since he wrote the incredible script for "Bugsy" which is filled with one great scene after another and an endless string of great dialogue. The performances in "Bugsy" are all wonderful. Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in the leads, it's easily Beatty's best performance ever. Harvey Keitel has the kind of role he can play in his sleep. Ben Kingsley is great, as usual. He should have won Supporting Actor Oscars for "Bugsy" and "Schindler's List". And, in smaller roles, Elliot Gould and Wendy Phillips shine. The cinematography, costume design, and production design all contribute to a glowing production and Ennio Morricone contributes a great music score, as usual. "Bugsy" is the ultimate Hollywood gangster movie. Funny, violent, and romantic - something for everyone. I've watched it many, many times and prefer it far more than "The Silence of the Lambs" which beat it out for Best Picture."