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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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...
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Billy Bathgate is based on E.L. Doctorow's historical novel about New York in the Thirties. Doctorow also authored Ragtime and while this film isn't as gaudy and expensive as Ragtime, Billy Bathgate is an accurate recreation of the times of post Prohibition New York City.
The main reason to see Billy Bathgate is the mesmerizing performance of Dustin Hoffman as Arthur Fleigenheimer better known as Dutch Schultz. It's a harrowingly accurate portrayal of Schultz who was every bit the hot tempered homicidal maniac Hoffman shows him as. It's very much along the lines of Vic Morrow's performance as Schultz in Portrait of a Mobster, but Hoffman is better. If you do a search on the web about Schultz and see a film, you'll find Dustin Hoffman looks quite a lot like him in real life.
The film is seen through the eyes of its title character who is a young man from the Bronx played by Loren Dean. Schultz reigned supreme in the Bronx of the Jimmy Walker early Fiorello LaGuardia days. One can't forget that this was the Depression, there were no jobs to be had for young Billy of Bathgate Avenue and his gang. It's the reason we see them hanging around on the subway tracks outside Schultz's headquarters when Billy's juggling act catches the Dutchman's attention.
Doctorow is true to gangland lore about why and how Schultz was done in. As you watch Hoffman's performance, these sudden fits of violence you can certainly understand why Lucky Luciano wanted to rid themselves of this problem.
Part of Schultz's temper might have been bedroom performance. As heiress Nicole Kidman so aptly puts it to Billy, he's quite an ordinary man your Mr. Schultz. Also look for some really good performances in this excellent cast from Steven Hill as numbers cruncher Otto Berman, Tim Jerome as lawyer Dixie Davis, and Bruce Willis as the luckless Bo Weinberg. Kidman's not bad either as the immoral heiress who has affairs with gangsters for kicks.
But Billy Bathgate really belongs to Dustin Hoffman, it's one of his best screen performances and should not be missed by anyone especially fans of Dustin.
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