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Bugsy Malone

From the creative mind of Alan Parker comes a 1976 musical satire called Bugsy Malone, a strikingly original idea that didn't quite match up in the actual execution of said idea.

Parker wrote and directed this clever lampooning of the gangster movie genre which follows the escalating mob war between two warring fractions who are both after ownership of the latest weapon on the street. The novel idea that Parker has employed here is that all of the characters are played by children. I'm pretty sure there isn't an actor in this movie who was over the age of 17 at the time, but the characters are still adults and written as adults and that might be part of the problem with the film.

Parker has written a mob story with a relatively straight face and is asking children to execute the story, children who may not be familiar with the kind of movie they are lampooning and that comes through in their playing of some of the scenes here, written for humor by Parker but sometimes not clearly understood by Parker's very talented but very young cast. It might have been a good idea for Parker to have his cast sit through some classic films like Scarface, White Heat, and The Roaring 20's so that these children might have had a better understanding of what they were doing here.

Don't get me wrong, there are a couple of cast members who understand exactly what's going on here, particularly Jodie Foster as the femme fatale Tallulah and John Cassisi as Fat Sam...they seem to have a handle on what's going on here, which can't be said for the entire cast.

There are some technical and logistical problems here as well...Parker chose to do some dubbing of the voices during the performance of Paul Williams' serviceable but less than remarkable musical score; unfortunately, the singing voices don't always match the actors' speaking voices which I found a little distracting, but not enough to completely take me out of the proceedings.

A very young Scott Baio handles the title role competently enough, though I might have cast someone a little older but he manages to hold the viewer's attention along with the previously mentioned Foster and Cassisi. Parker has also paid close attention to period detail in terms of settings and costumes and how can you not love machine guns that shoot whipped cream.