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James B. Harris
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Based loosely on the organized crime syndicates of the 20's and 30's, Billy Bathgate is the story of a young man's rise from gopher to right hand man in Dutch Schultz' gang. Having been impressed by the youth, Schultz takes him under his wing so to speak. Billy soon finds himself in a world where wealth and fortune live next door to danger and death. Written by
Michael Silva <email@example.com>
Then Disney head Jeffrey Katzenberg opted to produce this gangster epic instead of Warren Beatty's Bugsy as he figured Beatty's film was too expensive at $40 million. This movie ultimately came in at $50 million and grossed a mere $15 million on its American release. See more »
When Billy and Becky are first seen on the roof in long shot she is exhaling smoke; in the close-up immediately after, she doesn't have a cigarette. See more »
[being tied up]
What do you think, Irving? Makes this cheap dago move on me, Bo Weinberg. The man who took out @Vincent Coll. The man who held Jack Diamond's ears so he could put the gun in his mouth. Who found the rackets he was to *stupid* to find for himself, who made him something more than the lowdown fucking guy that he is! The schmuck, I should expect something else. He pulls me off the the street right in front of my girl, like he don't know no better. Schmuck!
Don't talk to...
[...] See more »
Well made gangster movie that never comes to the boil.
Through a chance meeting in the street, our hero Billy Bathgate (Loren Dean) encounters and impresses the notorious 1930's gangster and bootlegger Dutch Schultz and even becomes his protégé.
Gangster films, like westerns, have so many cinematic plus points built in that making a totally duff one is pretty hard. This is a very professional piece of work, but hardly takes the genre to another level. One of the games you can play while watching is ticking of the clichés one-by-one.
(For the record the lead's poor mother - she works in a laundry - doesn't reject his "dirty" money, which I thought was compulsory in this type of movie, but most other must-haves are observed: The "surprise" summary execution and the chase through the period streets - to name but two - are both here!)
Dustin Hoffman is surpassingly good as a gangster who treats other people as collectable/disposable items. While he has a cold streak, you feel that only people that cross him are going to get the chop (one of whom is Bruce Willis - who looks like he took a small part to wear the clothes).
More ambiguous is his love (or is she?) interest Nicole Kidman who he seems to enjoy mentally torturing. I couldn't get a clear grip on her mentality or why she goes along with it all - not even for her own security reasons.
Dean is a good looking young actor who looks about ripe for corruption, but the role doesn't require him to be cool or knowledgeable merely look on as a witness, so that we can too. His attraction for Kidman, who seems to like casually undressing in public, is natural given that he is supposed to be a wide-eyed virgin.
Naturally hanging around with gangsters isn't a safe sport and soon Billy is in hot water that he has to think himself out of, but I think you can safely guess that what the final outcome will be.
Billy Bathgate is the work of solid pros from the script to the scenery (very believable 1930's NY), but the piece never reaches the heights and for long periods jogs along like a marathon runner conserving energy.
While delivering no fireworks or giving you anything new it gets you through to the end without being bored. Nevertheless it is hardly the type of film you would want to own or even sit through twice.
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