Character as the soul of film
Warren Beatty and Annette Bening met on the set of Bugsy playing opposite each other as the famed gangster and his former prostitute girlfriend who together built the Flamingo, the first bigtime hotel and casino in Las Vegas.
The film covers Ben Siegel (he prefers not to be called Bugsy) from his arrival in LA, to his eventual fall from grace after building his beloved hotel, and it failing to be an immediate success.
We have a mix of standard gangster film elements, and some interesting character acting. The Bugsy character is extremely compelling, thanks to Beatty. This guy is impulsive, often violently so, and gets his head stuck on ideas many see as crazy. Among his peers, he is respected, but also treated with a certain amount of suspicion, except for his closest friends.
I continue to be impressed by nearly everything I see Ben Kingsley in (What Planet Are You From? notwithstanding). Kingsley does not get a lot of screen time, but he owns the supporting role of a New York gangster and childhood friend of Siegel's. His ability to fit into roles is simply amazing. We also have Harvey Keitel as an LA gangster, and he fits the role equally as well, but it's not so dissimilar a character from what we've seen him in before.
I like the film a little better than I think it is. As an adaptation of real events, the movie holds up decently, partcularly in the last half when there is more focus on concrete objectives.
There is one scene where Siegel is trying to negotiate with his New York associates in one room while trying to hold a birthday celebration for one very unhappy daughter in another room. And then there's another scene where he is in jail, but having catered meals, all the amenities of home, and his own telephone. These are great scenes, and that's what makes the movie work. We learn a lot about what makes this guy tick in these moments, and that's what film is supposed to be about.
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