TriStar Pictures | Release Date: December 20, 1991 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Generally favorable reviews based on 27 Critic Reviews
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Bugsy is a gangster film around the edges, a '40s love song down the middle, and the year's breeziest live-actor movie through and through. [13 Dec 1991, p.1D]
Just when you thought gangster movies had peaked, here's Warren Beatty in Bugsy, a film so suave, outrageous, flamboyant, knowing and above all playful that you're liable to overlook the fact that it's more loaded with American resonances than any three pop culture courses you could sign up for. [20 Dec 1991, p.53]
Levinson's Bugsy is painted against a vast tableau as sprawling as his Avalon and Rain Man. Bugsy is his most sophisticated film to date, a celebration of an outlaw's scheme to turn sand into gold; not for profit, but for love of a woman called Flamingo. [20 Dec 1991, p.24]
St. Louis Post-DispatchStaff (Not Credited)
Barry Levinson's film, Bugsy, glamorizes the back side of the American dream, adjusting facts as necessary to keep the story dramatic and to paint Siegel in better colors. The result is a strong, fascinating film that features a number of impressive performances, especially from Warren Beatty as Siegel and Annette Bening as Virginia Hill, whose nickname became the name of Siegel's dream hotel and casino in Las Vegas, the Flamingo.
If the idea was merely to make a high-gloss entertainment about the last days of mob glamour, Bugsy succeeds. But it leaves one final question unanswered: So what? [20 Dec 1991, p.G5]
It's long; it's expensive, and it was clearly created with the intention of being a great film. I've got nothing against bloated epics, just as I have nothing against blockbusters. But as bloated epics go, Bugsy is not particularly special. [20 Dec 1991, p.C1]
It's a shame that Levinson's pace is so stately and that his staid directorial choices fall short of the risky work undertaken by his actors and scriptwriter. Bugsy's life cheated his own genius; this movie cheats the genius who would embody that life. [13 Dec 1991]
The spectacle played out in Levinson's lyrical, dark-hued images never achieves the emotional whiplash the movie's after. Levinson's somber elegance and Toback's volatile aggression don't quite mesh: perhaps what this story needed was the fleet, gaudy ferocity of a Sam Fuller. Bugsy never makes the transition from the filmmakers' heads to the audience's gut.