Theatrical release poster by Charles Moll
|Directed by||Alan Parker|
|Produced by||Alan Marshall|
|Written by||Alan Parker|
|Music by||Paul Williams|
|Edited by||Gerry Hambling|
|Distributed by|| Fox-Rank Distributors (United Kingdom)|
Paramount Pictures (United States)
|Budget||£575,000 -£1 million|
|Box office||$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, John Cassisi, and Martin Lev 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, Bugsy Malone 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.
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 his assistant Knuckles is unintentionally killed. 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.
Bugsy Malone was Alan Parker's first feature film. Parker was trying to find a film project that was not "parochial" and decided upon an American gangster setting: "I had four young children and we used to go to a cottage in Derbyshire at weekends. On the long, boring car journey up there, I started telling them the story of a gangster called Bugsy Malone. They’d ask me questions and I’d make up answers, based on my memories of watching old movie reruns as a kid." His eldest son suggested children should be cast as the "heroes".
The director chose to cast several unknown actors in the film. To find his Fat Sam, Parker visited a Brooklyn classroom, asking for "the naughtiest boy in class". The students were unanimous in selecting John Cassisi, and Parker gave him the role. Florrie Dugger (Blousey) originally was cast in a smaller role; when the actress cast as Blousey suddenly grew taller than Baio, Dugger was promoted. She had been "discovered" at RAF Chicksands, an air force base in Bedfordshire where her American father was stationed. [ deprecated source? ]At the time of filming, all of the cast were under 17 years old.
Parker cast Baio after he slammed down the script and stormed out of his audition.Baio later remembered:
I had quit the business, because I didn’t like driving into Manhattan. Well, the long and the short of it is that I wanted to play with my friends after school, but it happened to be raining that day, so I went to the city to meet with Alan Parker. I read it, but I just barely read it. I didn’t even want to be there. He was English, but I didn’t even know what that was. He was just this weird guy with long hair, and I didn’t know what he was. [Laughs.] So I sort of read the script, threw it at him, and walked out the door. That was it: I’d gotten the part before I got home.
Parker chose Paul Williams to score the film in order to get a more "palatable" modern sound, and simply because he liked him.Williams had scored Brian De Palma's commercial failure Phantom of the Paradise , but had also written huge pop-radio hits (such as "We've Only Just Begun" (lyrics), and "(Just An) Old Fashioned Love Song"). In fact, Williams would soon win an Oscar for his song "Evergreen" from the film A Star Is Born (1976).
Williams felt that "... the challenge for me was to provide songs that reflected the period ... and yet maintained an energy that would hold the young audiences attention." According to Parker, Williams was writing while on tour, recording songs in different cities, and sending the completed tapes to Hollywood. Arriving during the first pre-shoot rehearsals, the songs had to be accepted and used as they were, with voices by Williams, Archie Hahn and others.
Neither the director nor the songwriter were comfortable with the results. Williams later wrote "I'm really proud of the work and the only thing I've ever doubted is the choice of using adult voices. Perhaps I should have given the kids a chance to sing the songs." Parker also commented: "Watching the film after all these years, this is one aspect that I find the most bizarre. Adult voices coming out of these kids' mouths? I had told Paul that I didn't want squeaky kids voices and he interpreted this in his own way. Anyway, as the tapes arrived, scarcely weeks away from filming, we had no choice but to go along with it!"
The film was rehearsed and shot in England, largely on Pinewood Studios' "H" stage, with locations in Black Park Country Park (Wexham, Buckinghamshire) and primarily the former Huntley & Palmers buildings in Reading, Berkshire.
The "splurge firearm" proved to be problematic. After initial experiments with cream-filled wax balls proved painful, Parker decided to abandon the idea of filming the firearms directly. Instead, the firearms fired ping-pong balls, and a fast cut to a victim being pelted with "splurge" was used to convey the impression of the rapid-firing firearms.
Baio later said making the film was "awesome":
A kid’s fantasy: You get to dress up as gangster, you get to shoot guns that fire whipped cream, you get to drive cars with pedals that look like real cars, and you get to talk like a grown-up. I mean, you couldn’t ask for a better first big gig. Talk about getting you hooked on a business! It was fantastic.
On Rotten Tomatoes, Bugsy Malone currently holds a score of 83% based on 23 reviews, with an average rating of 6.54/10.Metacritic gave the film a score of 71 based on 7 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Roger Ebert gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and called it "a charming one" with "yet another special performance by Jodie Foster."Gene Siskel also gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and said that "what makes 'Bugsy Malone' really worth watching—as opposed to being just a cute idea—are the fine performers, terrific choreography, catchy songs, and bright photography." Variety wrote that the film had "charm, neat acting by an all-youngster cast, a tongue-in-cheek script and dialog, lilting songs and score," but that audiences may find it "a bit fragile over its hour-and-a-half duration, and its content and approach just that bit too clever." Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote "The world that Alan Parker has created in 'Bugsy Malone' is very peculiar indeed, but he is remarkably successful considering the terrible odds against such a stunt in the first place." Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times called it "a rare, original, tuneful, lighthearted, charming and preposterously innocent family film." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post panned the film as "a freakish embarrassment" and an "icky misconception," though he singled out Jodie Foster for praise as an actress whose "precociousness is truly extraordinary." Pauline Kael of The New Yorker called the film "nothing but its godawful idea," writing "We're not watching actors in a story, we're watching kids doing a stunt, and so we're primed to ooh and aah, the way the audience does for a chimp on the Carson show."
Bugsy Malone was not a commercial success in the U.S., bringing in just over $2.7 million. Paramount gave it a limited release, usually in second-tier theaters in a double-bill with The Bad News Bears , which had been out for six months and was no longer much of a draw. According to Parker, the film was "quite successful" in the United Kingdom. By 1985, it had earned an estimated profit of £1,854,000.
The film garnered 15 award nominations, including "Best Motion Picture (Musical/Comedy)", "Best Original Score" and "Best Original Song" (for the title track) from the Golden Globes, and an Oscar for "Best Original Song Score" (Paul Williams). The film was in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival.Jodie Foster received two BAFTAs, "Best Supporting Actress" and "Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles", however, both her nominations were for her previous year's work in Taxi Driver in addition to her work on Bugsy Malone. Alan Parker received the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, and a nomination for Best Direction. Geoffrey Kirkland won the BAFTA Award for Best Production Design. Additionally, Paul Williams received a nomination for the Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music, and Monica Howe a Best Costume Design nomination. The film received a Best Picture nomination.
In the early 1980s, Bugsy Malone was released on VHS. On 16 April 1996, it was re-released by Paramount on VHS. A region 2 DVD has been available since 2003 and although the film has never been released on Region 1 DVD, it has been available through Internet sites as an Asian import supporting Region 1 (US). On 9 September 2008, Arista/SME released a Blu-ray version, encoded for "all regions", as a United Kingdom import. This edition includes a director's commentary as well as other special features.
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:
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.
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 . 's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.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
Bugsy Malone has been adapted into a stage show in two forms. [ deprecated source? ] 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.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.
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.
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.
Graham Thompson adapted the film into a 1976 comic book, which was only released in the United Kingdom.
George Michael Dolenz Jr. is an American actor, musician, television director, radio personality and theater director, best known as a vocalist and drummer of the 1960s pop/rock band the Monkees.
The year 1976 in film involved some significant events.
Scott Vincent James Baio is an American actor and television director. He is known for his role as Chachi Arcola on the sitcom Happy Days (1977–1984) and its spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi (1982–1983), and for playing the title character on the sitcom Charles in Charge (1984–1990), Dr. Jack Stewart in the medical-mystery-drama series Diagnosis: Murder (1993–1995), and the titular hero of the musical film Bugsy Malone (1976), his onscreen debut.
Sir Alan William Parker was an English filmmaker. His early career, beginning in his late teens, was spent as a copywriter and director of television advertisements. After about ten years of filming adverts, many of which won awards for creativity, he began screenwriting and directing films.
Paul Hamilton Williams Jr. is an American composer, singer, songwriter and actor. He is known for writing and co-writing popular songs performed by a number of acts in the 1970s, including Three Dog Night's "An Old Fashioned Love Song" and "Out in the Country," Helen Reddy's "You and Me Against the World," David Bowie's "Fill Your Heart" and the Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun" and "Rainy Days and Mondays." Williams is also known for his musical contributions to films, including the Oscar-nominated song "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie, and penning the lyrics to the #1 chart-topping song "Evergreen," the love theme from the Barbra Streisand film A Star Is Born, for which he won a Grammy for Song of the Year and an Academy Award for Best Original Song. He wrote the lyrics to the opening theme for the television show The Love Boat, with music previously composed by Charles Fox, which was originally sung by Jack Jones and, later, by Dionne Warwick.
John Cassisi is a former American child actor who starred in the 1976 movie Bugsy Malone as "Fat Sam" and subsequently in the television series Fish.
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Julie McWhirter, also known as Julie Dees and Julie McWhirter-Dees, is a retired American voice actress and impressionist best known for her work as Jeannie in the animated version of Jeannie, Bubbles in Jabberjaw and Baby Smurf and Sassette in The Smurfs.
Gary Beadle is a British actor, best known for playing Paul Trueman in EastEnders and Gary Barwick in Operation Good Guys.
See also: 1975 in organized crime, other events of 1976, 1977 in organized crime and the list of 'years in Organized Crime'.
Lee Ross is an English actor for his roles as nice guy Kenny Phillips in the classic CITV dramedy Press Gang and as violent Owen Turner in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. He is also known for his work in the drama series Dodger, Bonzo and the Rest, Secrets & Lies and The Catherine Tate Show.
Martin Lev was an English child actor.
"Daleks in Manhattan" is the fourth episode of the third series of British science fiction television series Doctor Who, which was first broadcast on BBC One on 21 April 2007, It is part one of a two-part story. Its concluding part, "Evolution of the Daleks", was broadcast on 28 April.
Peter Biziou BSC is a British cinematographer.
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Alicia Christian "Jodie" Foster is an American actress and director. She has received two Academy Awards, three British Academy Film Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award. For her work as a director, she has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award.
The 29th Cannes Film Festival was held from 13 to 28 May 1976. The Palme d'Or went to Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese. In 1976, "L'Air du temps", a new section which was non-competitive and focused on contemporary subjects, was introduced. This section, along with sections "Les Yeux fertiles" of the previous year and "Le Passé composé" of the next year, were integrated into Un Certain Regard in 1978.
Love That Brute is a 1950 comedy-crime film directed by Alexander Hall. The film is a remake of Tall, Dark and Handsome, a 1941 film also distributed by 20th Century Fox.
Stuart Piper is a London-based Agent and Producer represents actors, comedians and creatives, as Managing Director of Cole Kitchenn Personal Management Ltd and Director of CKP Comedy and ROAR Comedy. His client list includes actors Janie Dee, Dame Joan Collins, Pixie Lott, Katherine Jenkins OBE, Hannah Spearritt, Marc Pickering, Chizzy Akudolu, Glynis Barber, Rita Simons, Mica Paris, Phoebe Thomas, Louise Jameson, Mark Moraghan, Sid Owen, comedians Jan Ravens, Josie Lawrence, Lewis Macleod and Hal Cruttenden, West-End and Broadway theatre stars 2016 Evening Standard Award Winner Tyrone Huntley, 2017 Olivier Award winner David Bedella, 2017 Whatsonstage Award Winner Emma Williams, Amy Lennox, Cassie Compton, Julie Atherton, Christine Allado, Caroline O'Connor, Rosemary Ashe, Stephen Carlile, Lauren Samuels, Melanie La Barrie, Siobhan McCarthy, Alexandra Silber, Judy Kuhn, Mazz Murray, and creatives Arlene Phillips, Russell Labey and Nick Winston. In 2010, the agency became part of ROAR Group led by Chairman Jonathan Shalit, expanding to become part of a group of entertainment companies. His team of agents include Oliver Thomson, Alex Segal, Ashley Vallance, Adam Maskell, Brooke Kinsella MBE, Martha Atack, Sam Day, Charlie Royce, Alex MacMillan. In July 2015, The Stage called him a "Star Maker" in a front page interview, and Broadcast Magazine have announced him as a Director of new ROAR Comedy company with Corrie McGuire from Objective and Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE. In Jan 2017 he was announced to have masterminded the acquisition of CKP the agency that represents Micky Flanagan, Zoe Lyons, Hal Cruttenden and Mark Watson and was appointed Director as reported in The Stage and on Chortle.
Jodie Foster is an American actress and filmmaker. Foster began her professional career as a child model at age three appearing in the Coppertone commercial. Following appearances in numerous advertisements, she made her acting debut in 1968 with the television sitcom Mayberry R.F.D., following which she appeared in a string of television series including Gunsmoke, The Doris Day Show, Bonanza, and Kung Fu. Her film debut came with Disney's adventure film Napoleon and Samantha (1972). After receiving attention with appearances in such films as Tom Sawyer (1973), and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Foster rose to international stardom in 1976 at age 13 with three prominent releases; Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone, and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, with the first of these earning her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She continued to garner praise and became a teen idol with starring roles in a array of films including; Freaky Friday (1976), Candleshoe (1977), and Foxes (1980).