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Alan Parker
Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, Florrie Dugger
Writing Credits:
Alan Parker

Set in 1929 New York City, Bugsy Malone captures a flashy world of would-be hoodlums, showgirls, and dreamers - all played by child actors!

Rated G.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Monaural
French Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 8/31/2021

• “Give a Little Love” Featurette
• “Filmmaker Focus” Featurette
• Trailers


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-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Bugsy Malone (Paramount Presents Edition) [Blu-Ray] (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 31, 2021)

If anyone ever questions the notion that the 1970s offered a trippy era, the existence of 1976’s Bugsy Malone should set them straight. A musical tale of 1920s gangsters – with a cast made up entirely of children.

Who greenlighted that? I don’t know, but they must have been smoking something good.

Set in 1929, Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio) works as a boxing scout. When he visits a speakeasy run by mobster “Fat” Sam Staccetto (John Cassisi), he meets Blousey Brown (Florrie Duggar), an aspiring singer.

The two become a romantic item, but matters complicate when Sam’s girlfriend Tallulah (Jodie Foster) – and Bugsy’s former girlfriend – enters the equation. Bugsy finds himself involved in underworld shenanigans as Sam’s lieutenant as well as part of this love triangle.

I was nine in 1976 so a “G”-rated kiddie flick like Malone should’ve been right up my alley. Honestly, though, I can’t remember if I saw it. I don’t believe I did, but if I viewed it 45 years ago, it left my memory decades ago.

Perhaps the concept seemed too idiotic even for a dopey nine-year-old like me. If I did skip the flick in 1976, congrats to my younger self, as he avoided a catastrophe.

I know I used the trippy nature of the 1970s as an excuse, but I still wonder: what were those involved thinking? Malone brings a bizarre, misbegotten mix of parody, genre flick and curious experiment, none of which comes together in even a vaguely satisfying manner.

Take my plot synopsis and throw it out the window, as Malone really barely attempts a story. Instead, it comes more as a mix of wacky scenes that attempt to delight us with the quirky juxtaposition of kids in adult positions.

They don’t, partly because the movie’s universe never makes much sense. Are these supposed to be young actors who simply portray adults, or should we view this as a world in which only kids exist?

I never figured out that one, though since some of the actors sport facial hair, I guess it’s the former. In the end it doesn’t really matter, as the choice to cast only children exists as nothing more than a gimmick anyway.

Unfortunately, this decision just makes the whole package more perplexing, especially because someone figured that even if Malone presents a tale in which kids play adults, they shouldn’t use deadly weapons. Granted, this seems wise, as a movie in which 12-year-olds literally kill each other wouldn’t have flown even in the wilder days of 1976.

However, the choice to have the kids use cream pies and marshmallow guns for their “hits” just seems silly. When a character gets assaulted with these weapons, the movie treats them as though they’re dead, and that never makes a lick of sense. Why would a pie to the face be the equivalent of a bullet to the head?

Perhaps I expect too much logic from a movie of this sort, and that’s a fair criticism. If we swallow the general premise of the kid-populated gangster flick, we should probably take plenty of other leaps of logic.

And maybe I would accept these if the resultant story didn’t offer such a mess. Like I said, my synopsis becomes fairly irrelevant, as Malone barely attempts an actual narrative.

Instead, we flit from one scenario to another without much logic. Sure, we follow Bugsy’s romantic path as well as Sam’s gangster exploits, but none of this sticks.

It all just feels like an excuse for more of those quirky “kids act like adults” juxtapositions. Nothing about the flick makes much sense, but it seems clear no one involved cared, as they simply felt too intoxicated with the basic nature of the movie’s gimmick.

With Foster and Baio in the cast, at least we get to see future stars in their youth. However, both acted in enough other projects that even this factor doesn’t offer much appeal.

None of the young actors can do anything with their roles. Some seem stiff and flat, while others overact relentlessly, with virtually nothing in between.

Toss in terrible songs from Paul Williams and everything about Malone flops. Director Alan Parker would go on to a good career that took flight with his next film, 1978’s Midnight Express, but Malone offers a terrible feature debut.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C-/ Bonus C

Bugsy Malone appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image held up nicely over the last 45 years.

Overall sharpness satisfied. The occasional soft spot materialized, but most of the movie appeared accurate and well-defined.

Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects created concerns, and edge haloes remained absent. Grain felt natural, and I saw no signs of print flaws.

Colors favored a bit of a blue-green impression, but they managed a mix of other hues as well, some of which managed to boast nice intensity. In general, the hues worked well.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while shadows felt smooth and clear. This turned into a fine presentation.

Unfortunately, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack faltered. Remixed from the original monaural – which appears on the disc via lossy Dolby Digital – the soundscape seemed like a mess.

Rather than create a sense of space and involvement, the audio tended to offer blobby “broad mono”. This meant effects often spread around the room without clear localization or placement.

Music didn’t fare much better, as the score and songs usually showed a similar lack of stereo presence. The music tended to lean toward the left side of the spectrum and never offered anything more than vague, mushy placement.

Audio quality seemed decent for its age, at least. Speech could sound somewhat reedy, but the lines felt intelligible and without obvious flaws.

Effects fell into the same realm, as they showed decent accuracy and didn’t suffer from too much distortion. Music felt a little too bass-heavy, but the songs and score offered acceptable reproduction. This turned into a problematic soundtrack.

A few extras fill out the disc, and Give a Little Love runs six minutes, 13 seconds. It offers remarks from composer Paul Williams as he discusses how he became involved in the project as well as his work on it. Williams offers a few decent notes.

Filmmaker Focus spans five minutes, 27 seconds and features executive producer David Puttnam as he examines the film’s roots and development as well as various aspects of the production. This turns into a fairly efficient overview.

Finally, we get trailers for Malone as well as Grease, Paper Moon and Black Beauty. Note that the ad for Malone just shows a segment from the movie and it ends awkwardly, so I suspect it doesn’t present the actual trailer from 1976.

An inexplicable mess of a movie, Bugsy Malone exists as a silly gimmick and nothing more. It fails to tell a compelling story or create interesting characters, so it ends up as a cutesy endeavor without cinematic merit. The Blu-ray brings very good visuals but it suffers from a flawed 5.1 remix and lacks many bonus materials. Avoid this terrible film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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