The splurge guns did not actually fire the "splurge". Director Alan Parker first tried wax balls filled with cream but these hurt when fired, so in the end the splurge guns actually fired ping pong balls, which the actors fired at nothing and what we see on-screen is clever editing between this and shots of actors being hit by handfuls of cream thrown at them by others.
Alan Parker said he first came up with the idea for the story while driving from London to his house in Derbyshire - to keep his kids occupied, he told them this story, then his son Alexander, asked why kids couldn't be the heroes.
The pedal-driven cars could achieve a maximum speed of around ten miles (16 kilometers) per hour. They were all custom-built by hand and each cost around the same amount of money as a regular road-going Mini at the time.
Up to six teachers were on hand during production in a special full-time school adapted to space at Pinewood Studios. The improvised educational facility had to handle various teaching grades and levels from students within a five year age span and also from two different countries. Head teacher Lyn Simonon later wrote a paper about the temp film set school.
Every child actor working on the movie had to have an individual medical approval and working license. The official paperwork to allow children to work in the movie was mountainous. More than thirty-three English councils were involved as well as bureaucracy in New York and Los Angeles.
The 1929 New York street complex was the movie's main and largest set. It was built on the largest sound stage at Pinewood Studios on one meter rostrums. The massive set utilized over eighty tons of concrete which had to be poured into its foundation. Real steam was piped through its base so as to gush out of the street set's manholes. The street complex had to be a constructed set rather than a real life location as the child actors were not allowed to work at night due to regulations. As such, the set could be lit for night during daytime filming.
Although it performed well in England and Japan, Paramount only gave "Bugsy Malone" a limited release in US theaters, usually dumping it onto second-feature screens partnered with a late-'76 re-release of The Bad News Bears (1976).
One thousand gallons of synthetic cream were used in the film by property master John Leuenberger. The original plan was to use shaving cream but this was a ballistic failure for the splurge guns and it also smarted the eyes.
The development of the splurge guns took three months work by special effects boffins at Pinewood Studios. A gunsmith was consulted by fxpert Malcolm King to resolve the very complex ballistic problem of being able to shoot a capsulated custard pie without it first splurging the firer-splurger.
The pedal cars would only work with one person onboard driving, but not with any passengers. If you look carefully, in some scenes, you can see the feet of several propsmen at the back of the cars, pushing them.
Florrie Dugger was at first only given a minor part - until the original actress meant to play Blousey underwent a growth spurt and became taller than Bugsy (Scott Baio), and Dugger was given the role of Blousey.
Alan Parker has admitted to having an ambivalent attitude to the film and for years did not include it in any biography/filmography of his work. However, over the years his attitude changed and he now admits to being very proud of it.
Florrie Dugger had a frosty relationship off- screen with Scott Baio and admitted years later that she couldn't stand him. The lack of any on -screen chemistry between the actors is noticeable in their scenes together.
Although Scott Baio was born in Brooklyn, director Alan Parker notes that he found Scott in a Los Angeles audition. Parker added that he conducted auditions for Bugsy Malone (1976) for more than a year all over Britain, including RAF Lakenheath air-base in Suffolk, England, as well as conducting auditions in Harlem in Brooklyn and Los Angeles in California auditioning altogether over 10,000 youth.
In the nearly 40 years since it was made, Alan Parker has very rarely given permission for professional stage productions of Bugsy Malone and never liked any of those productions that he did permit. However, in 2015 he granted permission to the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, London, to stage it and, impressed by the creative teams plans for the show, also attended some rehearsals . The production, which opened in April 2015, was a smash hit success, getting 5-star critical reviews, sold out performances and even extending its initial run due to its popularity. Parker said he loved the production and that in places, it was even better than the film.
Despite various and numerous attempts, the props and effects departments could not get the Splurge guns to fire the cream mixture safely. They tried wrapping it in wax balls and tested it out on production manager Garth Thomas ,who was well over six feet tall and weighed about 20 stone. Alan Parker fired the gun at Thomas and it hit him in the forehead knocking him off his feet and leaving a huge red mark on his skin, due to its velocity. In the end, the guns just fired ping pong balls and with careful editing the shot would cut to the target who would then have the cream thrown at them by Parker and other crew members.
Some of the extras were students at two local schools: Evreham County Secondary School and Iver Heath Middle School. Alan Parker visited Evreham to select extras, and returned to show the film in full to the school. The extras included twins Julie and Gillian Privett, Trevor Edwards, Ross Shepherd, Karen Rollins, Antony Parris and Alan Cole. The girls were mostly dancers, and Cole appears out of a manhole cover in one scene and sitting at a table in Fat Sam's in another.
In addition to the script, Alan Parker also wrote several songs for the movie. When he performed some of them for producer's David Puttnam and Alan Marshall (in Parker's kitchen) Puttnam responded by saying: "I think we'd better get a professional composer (!)" Hit songwriter Paul Williams was subsequently hired.
Closing credits: All characters and incidents portrayed and the names used in this film are fictitious and any similarity to the names, characters or history of any person is entirely accidental and unintentional.