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Film: Bugsy Malone

A 1976 musical film, later adapted for the stage. The setting is a Gangsterland in The Roaring Twenties — but all the characters are played by children, and all the weapons used are Edible Ammunition.

Dandy Dan's gang has a new weapon, the splurge gun. This means the custard pies used as weapons by their rivals, Fat Sam's gang, just won't cut it any more...

Bugsy Malone (who is somewhat affiliated with Fat Sam but not an actual member of his gang) meets Blousey Brown, an aspiring singer who's trying to get work at Fat Sam's speakeasy. Unfortunately Fat Sam is too distracted by the "war" with Dandy Dan to give her an audition.

Dandy Dan's gang splurges most of Fat Sam's gang after a tip-off turns out to be a trap. After this catastrophe Fat Sam tells his right hand man (and only remaining gangster) Knuckles that everything must continue as normal, eventually giving Blousey her audition, which she aces. However, right before the audition Tallulah (Fat Sam's moll) was flirting with Bugsy; although he rejected her advances, Blousey doesn't know this and gets angry with him.

Meanwhile Fat Sam hires Bugsy to drive him and his "specialist" Looney Burgonzie to ambush Dandy Dan at a meeting; it fails. Bugsy and Sam get away and Sam gives Bugsy extra money for his quick thinking.

Bugsy and Blousey make up and he reveals he has enough money for two tickets to Hollywood; however, as he returns the car he borrowed from Sam to the garage, he is mugged, losing the money. Leroy Smith saves him with what Bugsy calls some impressive punching. So, Bugsy takes Leroy to Cagey Joe's gym to see if he can make it as a boxer.

Sam once again enlists Bugsy's aid, offering him $400 this time, but Blousey is not happy to hear of the delay, and hangs up on him and she is angry with herself for thinking that she could trust Bugsy. Bugsy and Leroy then follow Dan's men to Dock 17, where they discover the guns are being stashed. The two of them can't take the place alone, so Bugsy and Leroy find a large group of down-and-out workers who are having their free lunch and Bugsy persuades them to join him. They steal the guns and make it back to the speakeasy in time to counter the attack by Dan's Gang. Chaos ensues until they are stopped by a chord from Razzamataz, the pianist. Everybody has been splurged (except Bugsy and Blousey), and the final song is about everyone realising they can be friends.

Tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo / Edible Ammunition: Custard pies and splurge guns (which are basically tommy-guns that fire blobs of custard cream).
  • Affably Evil: The main antagonist, Dandy Dan, is very polite, charming and likeable. Sam, who is on the good side, in much ruder and more aggressive.
  • Anti-Hero: Fat Sam's gang is little better than Dandy Dan's. Both mob bosses have no qualms about treating their subordinates like dirt and both even use them for target practice. The difference? Fat Sam's guys are utterly incompetent.
  • Artistic License - History: Bugsy quotes the film On the Waterfront — "I coulda been a contender, Charlie". A film made 30 years after Bugsy is set...
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Tallulah, who gets extremely Pied In The Face at the climax.
  • Bright Reprise: The final song is a reprise of "Bad Guys" in which the gangsters sing about turning over a new leaf and being Good Guys from now on.
  • The Chanteuse: Tallulah.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The two guys singing "We are the best at being bad!"
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Looney Burgonzie.
  • Cool Car: You know you(re children) just want one of those pedal-driven 20s cars.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: Pop Becker's Bookstore is the front for Fat Sam's speakeasy. Lest you think this is only in the stage version, recall that the bookstore also appears in the beginning of the movie, as well as in a shot showing Babyface as he alerts the gang to Dandy Dan's presence.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: Lena Marelli, which is to be expected seeing as she was played by Bonnie Langford.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tallulah, even when she's Covered in Gunge:
    Tallulah: So this is showbiz.
  • Gainax Ending: The film climaxes with a shootout/pie fight, which Razzmatazz interrupts. Then, suddenly, everybody just starts singing. This is especially weird when it's previously been implied that splurge guns are stand-ins for real guns, with Fat Sam breaking down over Knuckles' "death". Although, Knuckles also gets splurged in the shoulder early on with no visible ill effects.
  • Goshdang It To Heck: Since it's a kids film, there's odd words used in place of swearing.
  • Kosher Nostra: Knuckles.
    Fat Sam: Don't you speak Italiano?!
    Knuckles: No, boss. I'm Jewish.
  • Lighter and Fluffier: Than history! Interestingly, director Alan Parker went on to direct (among other films) the much darker musical The Wall. The story goes that Parker was inspired to make this film after refusing to let his son watch The Godfather. He even throws in a subtle reference to Godfather II (watch out for two guys carrying a carpet).
  • Literal Metaphor: One of Fat Sam's workers says he can't stop Dandy Dan's gang because "he's all tied up" (he's actually tied up). Fat Sam replies "I don't care how busy you are."
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The novelization gives entire chapters over to several before Bugsy is properly introduced.
  • The Mafia
  • Meet Cute: Bugsy and Blousey.
  • Medium Awareness: Fat Sam says something in Italian. But his henchman, Knuckles, is Jewish and doesn't understand Italian. He is told to read the translation as the subtitle appears onscreen.
  • Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters: Fat Sam and his Gang are sort of the good guys in the story, although they are of course still gangsters. (It helps that Fat Sam is a much nicer employer than Dandy Dan.)
  • Nerf Arm: Pies are deadly — not as deadly as Splurge Guns, though.
  • Never Say "Die": Characters who are pied or splurged disappear from the action. They're said to be "finished" rather than dead. Everybody who gets splurged in the big showdown is still lively enough during the final song.
  • Non-Singing Voice: The kids are lip-synching to adult voices, owing to a lack of rehearsal time for the former. The only time this isn't used is for the Cute, but Cacophonic Lena Marelli.
  • Only Sane Man: Argubly Bugsy.
  • Oo C Is Serious Business: An interesting take. When things has gone badly for Fat Sam, he attempts to subvert this by acting as normal as possible. The problem is, Fat Sam is usually so very busy. When he suddenly is not busy and takes his time with other things to show that there is no problem it becomes his out-of-character moment. So if someone paid attention to how kind and social Fat Sam suddenly became, they would possibly catch wind of that something was very wrong. Nobody did, though. On the other hand, it did mean Blousey got her job.
  • Pie in the Face: Edible Ammunition-style.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Paul Williams; some of the dubbed singing voices for the kids are his vocals.
  • Power of Friendship: Focus of the last song, along with:
  • Power of Love
  • The Prima Donna: Lina Marelli.
    Lina Marelli: Oscar! Oscar! I'm back! I'll give you one more chance, you hear me? I'll give you one more chance, you hear me, Oscar? Otherwise I'm out for good! Out, out, out! I'm not being humiliated in this place! You know I am the star and I should be treated like it absolutely all the time!
  • Slapstick Knows no Gender: Once the pies start flying at the end, not even the cutest chorus girl is safe.
  • Smug Snake: Dandy Dan.
  • Surrounded by Idiots:
    • Fat Sam with his gang, while Dandy Dan's are slightly more competent.
    • Bugsy himself.
  • There Are No Adults: It's an entire cast of children!
  • Villain Song: "Bad Guys", sung by Fat Sam's gang. (They're closer to Anti-Hero status, with Dandy Dan's gang being the villains, but Dandy Dan's gang doesn't sing at all.)
    We coulda been anything we wanted to be
    With all the talent we had
    But we decided, a fact we take pride in,
    To be the very best at being bad.

Specific to the stage version:

  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: In the stage version Shady gives Fat Sam information that will lead his men into a trap, he then collects his money from Dandy Dan only to be killed (splurged) while walking away. Dandy Dan takes back his money commenting he can't stand traitors.

Bring It OnThe MusicalBye Bye Birdie
The Boy in the Plastic BubbleFilms of the 1970sBurnt Offerings

alternative title(s): Bugsy Malone
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