Sunday, November 1, 2009


Bugsy; Crime drama, USA, 1991; D: Barry Levinson, S: Warren Beatty, Anette Bening, Joe Mantegna, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould

America in the 40s. Ben "Bugsy" Siegel is a killer who works for the mafia in New York. When Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky send him to Los Angeles, he makes a singer sell him a house where he can live. With a few criminals, he opens betting offices while his friend George meets him with Vriginial Hill. When his betting office is robbed by criminal Cohen, he hires him to work for him. His dream is to open a casino is Las Vegas, Nevada. He finishes a hotel, but gets murdered because he invested too much mobster money into it. Virginia commits suicide.

Biographical film of anti-hero Ben Siegel, the man who founded casinos in Las Vegas because gambling wasn't forbidden there, won a Golden Globe for best picture - Drama and 2 Oscars for best set-design and costumes. "Bugsy" is a suspenseful and dynamic portrait, but too standard, not offering nothing new or inventive in the story, whereas director Barry Levinson at times shows too much sympathies towards Siegel - he even says something about his legacy when he adds towards the end that his casinos earned 100 billion $ up until 1991, placing him a monument as if those casinos are a work of Mother Teresa. Yet, on the other hand, he also shows Siegel in unglamourous light: in one scene, he offers a mobster 25 % of shares in his investment, and in case that he says no, he immediately gives him a gun to shoot him. He forces his greedy associate who robbed him to walk like a pig, whereas he even planned to assassinate Mussolini. Ben Kingsley shows up in a small role as Lansky, giving the best performance in the ensemble.


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