It tells the story of how he and his associates built the Las Vegas Strip. It starts with Bugsy visiting L.A. and being entranced by starlet Virginia Hill. After visiting a humble gambling joint in Las Vegas, he decides to create the Flamingo Casino Hotel. Because of Siegel's extravagance, and Virginia embezzling some of the funds, the budget for the hotel swells to $6 million, riling the mob.
This film features examples of:
- Berserk Button: Do not, under any circumstances, call him "Bugsy".
- Truth in Television: The real life Siegel hated being called that.
- The Casino: The Flamingo Hotel.
- Creator Cameo: Director Barry Levinson plays the casting director who tries to order Bugsy off the set of the movie George Raft is shooting, and writer James Toback plays Gus Greenbaum.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Per the real-life man, Bugsy never liked his nickname.
- Eureka Moment: Bugsy gets one of these when he gets the idea for the Flamingo Hotel and building it in Vegas.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Bugsy might be a gangster and a murderer, but he's still fervently against Mussolini and Hitler.
- Eye Scream: One of the shots that kills Bugsy exits out his eye.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Bugsy is definitely someone you don't want to cross; this was the basis for the nickname Bugsy, he got bugged out by many things. Calling him that, of course, made him even more' angry.
- Kosher Nostra: Bugsy Siegel and his associates are Jewish gangsters.
- Pretty in Mink: Virginia wears a huge white fox wrap for a date.
- Protagonist Title: Bugsy is about Bugsy Siegel.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Bugsy gets off for killing Harry Greenberg by bribing the only witness, a Taxi Driver.
- Serious Business: One of Bugsy's many girlfriends has access to Mussolini, and Bugsy wants to use this access to plot to assassinate him. Meyer, of course, thinks he's crazy, and warns him not to talk about this to anyone else. In real life, Bugsy wanted to try and assassinate Hitler.
- Shout-Out: The movie includes a sequence of George Raft shooting Manpower, a real movie he did with Edward G. Robinson and Marlene Dietrich.
- Third-Person Person:Virginia: Now what exactly does Mr. Esta (Bugsy's wife's name) want with Miss Virginia?Bugsy: Right now, Mr. Esta is having a hard time figuring out what he doesn't want from Miss Virginia.
- Wicked Cultured: Before buying an opera singer's house from him, Bugsy goes on about how much he and his wife loved hearing him sing.