7 – Bugsy Malone – The Guardian’s Top Ten Movie Musicals

Movie Musicals are as popular today as they were back in the twenties when sound was first introduced to cinema.
In December 2013 The Guardian Newspaper published their list of the Top Ten Movie Musicals.
Here is what the Guardian’s critics have to say, what we at Actor Hub think of each choice and some of your thoughts (via Amazon’s reviews).
If you agree or disagree please let us know via Twitter @actorhub.
Read the original article on the Guardian’s website.

#7 Bugsy Malone – Top Ten Film Musicals

What The Guardian Said:

Long before it became a staple part of the schools and am-dram society production roster, Bugsy Malone was a very knowing screen musical with killer songs, a precociously talented young cast and real eccentricity. Only a madman could have come up with the idea of making a pastiche 1930s gangster musical populated entirely by children and shot in Britain in the mid-1970s. Alan Parker was that madman. Having established himself as one of the country’s hottest commercials directors, he was looking to move into film, only to find that every script he dashed off was accused of being too parochial. His response was to write one that was almost absurdly American – a tale of warring gangsters and the battle for Fat Sam’s speakeasy. But here the guns fire custard rather than bullets, and none of the thugs has a five o’clock shadow.
Although Parker’s pitch was met with bafflement from financiers (“‘It’s a fusion of two genres – the Hollywood musical and the gangster film,’ I would enthuse. ‘Except [nervous cough] the guns will fire custard pies and it will have a cast entirely of kids aged about 12′”), the budget was raised and shooting began at Pinewood after a year of casting. It’s no surprise that Jodie Foster should be so dazzling as Tallulah, Fat Sam’s moll – she already had eight years’ acting experience behind her at that point, including her role in Taxi Driver – but the rest of the cast are a delight, including future TV heartthrob Scott Baio as Bugsy, the down-at-heel boxing promoter. Credit should go also to the affectionate production design by Geoffrey Kirkland and the tone of whimsical amusement sustained by Parker.
But there can be no doubting the most seductive element: the songs by Paul Williams. He may be best known today for his recent contributions to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, but since the 1960s he has been a composer and performer with a knack for the timeless earworm. From writing for the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand and the Muppets to starring in and co-scoring Brian de Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, he is a genuine legend. If he had done nothing but the songs for Bugsy Malone, that status would still be assured. Ryan Gilbey

What We Think:

I’m a kid of the seventies and Bugsy Malone was a regular feature on the TV about thrity years ago, and so I hold it with somewhat nostalgic kid gloves. It really is a bit of a cult-classic for my generation.
Bugsy Malone is 1920s set story of BUgsy, a fast talkin’ hustler, caught in the middle of a gang war between Dandy Dan and Fat Sam, two crime bosses. The film is full of sassy showgirls, thugs, gangs, fights, killings, hits, car chases and machine guns – the beauty of Bugsy Malone is that the entire cast is made up of children!
It makes for a strangely captivating but bizarre spectacle: Little boys conducting mob hits on each other, but the guns they use shoot custard pies and shaving foam! A sassy, showgirl played by a young Jodie Foster asking Bugsy to ‘smear her lipstick’ and a soup kitchen filled with primary school aged hobo’s!
My Actor Hub gripe is that when the kids open their mouths to sing we hear adult voices! This makes for the strangest viewing, especially for today’s audience where we know just how talented little kids can be thanks to the professional theatre musicals Billy Elliot and Matilda. It would have been lovely to hear the kids singing these songs, each one of them an earworm!
The film is show beautifully amd the production design is terrific – I just loved those little pedal cars as a kid …. actually thinking about it, I still want one of them today! ActorHub
Trivia Fans:
  • Florrie Dugger replaced the original Blousey actress who underwent a growth spurt after casting and was taller than Bugsy when filming began! The original actress plays Dandy Dan’s equestrian partner.
  • Over a thousand custard pies were thrown during the making of the movie.
  • When casting Fat Sam, Alan Parker went to a Brooklyn classroom and asked who was the naughtiest boy; everyone replied John Cassisi, who subsequently got the part.
  • Director Alan Parker once said: “If I’d have gone sick on Bugsy Malone I swear Jodie Foster could have taken over”. Foster was already a veteran of ten motion pictures by the filming of this feature film!

What You Think:

The Top Ten Movie Musicals