December 20th, 1991



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Still of Annette Bening in BugsyStill of Warren Beatty in BugsyBugsyStill of Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in BugsyBugsyStill of Warren Beatty in Bugsy

The story of how Bugsy Siegel started Las Vegas.

Release Year: 1991

Rating: 6.8/10 (12,479 voted)

Director: Barry Levinson

Stars: Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Harvey Keitel

New York gangster Ben 'Bugsy' Siegel takes a brief business trip to Los Angeles. A sharp-dressing womaniser with a foul temper, Siegel doesn't hesitate to kill or maim anyone crossing him. In L.A. the life, the movies, and most of all strong-willed Virginia Hill detain him while his family wait back home. Then a trip to a run-down gambling joint at a spot in the desert known as Las Vegas gives him his big idea.

Writers: James Toback, Dean Jennings

Warren Beatty - Bugsy Siegel
Annette Bening - Virginia Hill
Harvey Keitel - Mickey Cohen
Ben Kingsley - Meyer Lansky
Elliott Gould - Harry Greenberg
Joe Mantegna - George
Richard C. Sarafian - Jack Dragna (as Richard Sarafian)
Bebe Neuwirth - Countess di Frasso
Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi - Count di Frasso
Wendy Phillips - Esta Siegel
Stefanie Mason - Millicent Siegel
Kimberly McCullough - Barbara Siegel
Andy Romano - Del Webb
Robert Beltran - Alejandro
Bill Graham - Charlie Luciano

Taglines: Glamour Was The Disguise.

Release Date: 20 December 1991

Filming Locations: 425 S Plymouth Blvd, Los Angeles, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $140,358 (USA) (15 December 1991) (4 Screens)

Gross: $49,114,016 (USA)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | USA: (extended edition)

Did You Know?

While the film suggests that Bugsy Siegel and Virginia Hill first meet on the movie set, they had actually met several years earlier in real life. At the time, Hill was dating Joe Adonis (portrayed as Joey A. by Lewis Van Bergen in this film) when she and Bugsy had an affair, thus explaining the animosity Bugsy and Joey have for one another throughout the film.

Continuity: After Bugsy's house has been sold to finance the Flamingo Club, he takes another look at his "screen test". He's at Virginia Hill's mansion, but he looks at the film in the projection room of his old house.

Mickey Cohen: Hey, this conversation is beneath me.

User Review

A fascinating portrait of a superficial man

Rating: 8/10

In his career as a mobster, Benjamin Siegel acquired the nickname Bugsy, a name he detested. Barry Levinson's 1991 film, "Bugsy," never explains how Siegel came to be known as Bugsy, but it does portray his annoyance at being addressed as such. Several folks get their faces smashed after using the offending title, but though Bugsy, er Ben Siegel, is not above violence, he is more concerned with self-improvement. He repeats non-sensical phrases meant to improve his diction, and applies cold creme to his face and cucumber slices to his eyelids to promote a more youthful appearance. And, who knows, like his buddy George Raft, Bugsy, er Ben, thinks that maybe he has what it takes to be a movie star.

Whether it's meant to report the truth or simply to inflate the legend, "Bugsy," named best picture of 1991 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a fascinating portrait of a superficial man, one for whom money was "dirty paper" that could be acquired as easily as it could be spent, and mug shots were shameful only if they didn't show off a tan. As played by Warren Beatty, Siegel's preoccupation with glamour and general politeness come across more effectively than his occasional brutality, but Beatty finds a proper fit all the same. Also effective is Ben Kingsley as Meyer Lansky, Annette Bening as Virginia Hill, the woman for whom Siegel falls hard, Elliott Gould as a dim-witted and ill-fated friend, and, above all else, Harvey Keitel as Mickey Cohen. Less impressive is Joe Mantegna, miscast as George Raft. Mantegna is too soft in both voice and appearance to accurately convey the street origins of the silver screen's coin flipping tough guy, but this otherwise fine actor's poorly etched portrayal is too minor a flaw to damage the movie.

Like Hitler, Siegel's insecurities led him to build monuments to his own ego, as if intent on finding some kind of immortality. For Siegel, the monument was the Flamingo Hotel in the barren Nevada desert. Siegel's vision ultimately led to his death at the hands of his financiers who were enraged at the escalating costs of his oasis in the desert, but it also, if the film is to be believed, led to the birth of the gambling and entertainment capital that Las Vegas would become. There are those who challenge this view, but, fantasy or fact, "Bugsy" is top-notch entertainment.


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