Written by / 7/12/2012 / No comments / , , , ,

WARREN BEATTY IS BUGSY

year: 1991 cast: Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould rating: ***1/2

Warren Beatty likes to surround himself with great actors, and with Ben Kingsly as Meyer Lansky and Harvey Keitel as Mickey Cohen he gets his wish: but Beatty’s Bugsy Siegel not only steals this particular show but completely owns it...

At least for the first half – the better part of an entertaining gangster biopic directed by Barry Levinson with lavish production, taking us back to the 1940’s when Siegel traveled from New York to Hollywood. The best scenes have Bugsy (but never call him that) taking over tinsel town with bullheaded gusto, buying a mansion and car like shopping at a yard sale – and then meeting actress Virginia Hill who soon becomes his moll, then Achilles’ heel.

The future Mrs. Beatty does a good job as the temperamental moll, but scenes where Bugsy thinks she’s sleeping (or has slept) with every man around borrows too heavily from RAGING BULL and gets in the way of the real story: Siegel’s vision of a giant casino in the middle of the Nevada desert, in a town called Las Vegas, as he spends too much mafia money on a gamble that might not work. Beatty plays the role with delightful energy yet he’s surprisingly formidable too... especially when dealing with people that owe. It's a shame the searing romantic melodrama gets in the way of the rough stuff. Then again, the one thing Warren prefers to movies is... or, are... the dames.

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