Billy Bathgate (1991) Poster

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7/10
A Lucky Boy!!!
Benedito Dias Rodrigues4 October 2017
Billy Bathgate is really good gangster movie,but something is missing, Dustin is usual as ever,great Loren Dean performance, Nicole Kidman as marvelous in breathtaking scenes and surprisingly the unforgettable our hero in the past in Mission Impossible series Steven Hill on a very respectable and fine acting, almost unnoticed if didn't l used to read the opening credits....more helping the Lucky guy along the picture like a father,based in real facts on the thirties.

Resume:

First watch: 1996 / How many: 2 / Source: TV-DVD / Rating: 7.25
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One of Doctorows best stories
sotheran5712 January 2017
I have been a Doctorow fan for a long time and have read most of his works. His book Billy Bathgate was given to me for a Christmas present and I read it three times in a few months. I had not seen the film but, again, I got it for a Christmas present this year. While I enjoyed the film the book was still fresh on my mind and I found, while a lot of the story was adhered to, the ending in the film was not as satisfactory as the book. It seemed to 'fizzle out' when I was expecting the final ironic twist in the tale. Also because the story is quiet complex I would expect that viewers who had not read the book might find the film a little bewildering. Loren Dean was certainly not up to the titular role - he just didn't seem to be a credible character and looked almost bemused by what was going on around him; in reality, I mean, not as the character. Dustin Hoffman was good as Schultz but did not have enough to do. Steve Hill as Otto, one of the important characters in the book, was excellent. Enjoyable with reservations. If you haven't, you must read the book.
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6/10
Amazing
piratemanboy25 December 2016
An excellent movie about gangsters without being bored. A cast of actors simply amazing, with the beautiful Nicole Kidman more beautiful than ever. Unlike Godfather, here we see the mafia world through the eyes of a street kid who wants fame and money.

In the Godfather movie, all the characters are already on top, it does not show how they arrived and they are almost invincible to either the government, the police or rival gangs. Here the mob has to work hard. Violence is just right and the nudity scenes are very well done. A nudity scene always improves the movie in question. The action is also very good, here there is no place for annoyance. A movie that I like a lot, I have in Blu ray and I recommend it.
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7/10
Dustin Hoffman steals the show!
Predrag13 May 2016
"Billy Bathgate" charts the seemingly charmed path of a resourceful street kid (Loren Dean) who latches on to the Dutch Shultz gang in Dewey-era New York City. Shultz (Dustin Hoffman) has a gang which has seen the zenith of its power; its fighting to hold his place in a world where Irish and Italian politicians and mobsters are on the ascendancy. The movie opens with an initial act of betrayal, and the moll (Nicole Kidman) is thrust upon both the man and the boy. The movie is blessed with strong performances by secondary characters played by Steven Hill, Steve Buscemi, Stanley Tucci, Bruce Willis, and a number of other actors whose faces you know but might not be able to name.

Amazing because unbelievable. But it is true Billy has to survive since he is telling the story, or rather the story is told from his point of view. He is the voyeur, the camera, the stalker, the witness, etc, and the film is shot through his own eyes. The pleasure is essentially in the acting. This movie is always told through the eyes of Billie & his gangland tutor played by Steven Hill of Law & Order fame, just one fine acting job. Some claim Hoffman is so powerful here he overshadows the rest of the cast but I think that's shallow-sighted. Dutch Schultz was a overpowering man & only those that were able to subjugate themselves in his presence survived for long. That makes the other portrayals dead accurate & earns those actors & actresses their own deserved praise for this show.

Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
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5/10
lackluster lead in bland character
SnoopyStyle11 May 2015
It's 1935 NYC. Dutch Schultz (Dustin Hoffman) has Bo Weinberg (Bruce Willis) tied up. The movie flashes back to hustler Billy Bathgate (Loren Dean) on the streets. He ingratiates himself into Dutch's grace with his timely audacity. Dutch is a lead gangster. Otto Berman (Steven Hill) is his second in-command. Bo is his master fixer who can be trusted to do anything. Drew Preston (Nicole Kidman) is Bo's married girlfriend. Dutch is battling another gang as he grows suspicious of Bo. After Dutch kills Bo, he takes Drew as his. He has a trial in upstate New York and tries to win over the locals with his generosity.

There is something off-putting about Loren Dean portrayal of Billy Bathgate. He's a wide-eyed bland puppy who's always hanging around and listening. He lacks the needed intensity to lead a movie that has Dustin Hoffman acting up a storm. I imagine a modern version could be played by Eddie Redmayne who would give this role much needed energy. With Kidman bringing all of her damaged sexuality, Loren Dean brings the heat of a 12 year old boy. It's partly the character but mostly it's left on Loren's doorstep. How much of it is director Robert Benton's doing is hard to tell. This movie should be a lot better with so many great supporting actors involved.
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8/10
Could Have Been A Better Gangster Film
Desertman8428 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Billy Bathgate is a gangster film that is based on E.L. Doctorow's novel of the same title.It stars Loren Lean in the title role of the street-smart kid who gets connected and wins the confidence of 1930's mob Dutch Schultz.Nicole Kidman, Steven Hill, Steve Buscemi,Bruce Willis and Moira Kelly are also part of the cast.

When Billy becomes connected to Dutch Schultz,he is ordered to look after Schultz' new flame Drew Preston and helps him to fends off tax evasion charges.Also,he tries to keep a watchful eye on up-and- coming rivals as Lucky Luciano.Things get complicated when Billy and Drew fall in love and tries to escape the wrath of Schultz and that of Lucky Luciano.

The movie could have been a lot better if it focused on Dutch Schultz for there is more compelling stories to tell instead of his protégé Billy Bathgate.Instead,we get to see an average gangster flick.But nevertheless,we get to see great performances from Hoffman and Kidman despite of an average screenplay.
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I'm not his girl, he's my gangster
tieman644 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
When it was released in 1991, Robert Benton's "Billy Bathgate" was accused of being dull and unfocused. With the slick gangster movies of the 1990s now mimicked to death, today "Bathgate" almost seems interesting.

The plot? Loren Dean plays Billy Bathgate, a South Bronx teenager who weasels his way into the criminal organization of Dutch Schultz (Dustin Hoffman). Along the way he befriends and falls in love with one of Schultz's molls, played by Nicole Kidman.

Thematically, "Bathgate" doesn't do anything particularly new. What it does well is come at well-worn material from odd angles. Scenes that other crime films skirt over are dwelt upon, Kidman's character constantly mocks the macho pretensions of Schultz's gang, and Bill is an entirely passive character, forever riding a wave of blind luck. Hoffman, meanwhile, plays Schultz as a man of extremes. Though tiny and mild-mannered, he's constantly erupting into violence so as to hide insecurities. Virtually all the problems Schultz faces are a result of his inability to keep a lid on his emotions.

"Billy Bathgate" boasts excellent production design by Patrizia Von Brandenstein, who attempts to evoke the flavour of mid 1930s New York. Nesot Almendros' cinematography is also fine, packed with rich browns and blacks. Both are responsible for the film's better elements; its spaces, places and approaches to architecture. Bruce Willis and Steve Buscemi co-star. The film is loosely based on the life of Jewish mobster Arthur Flegenheimer.

8/10 – See Zhang Yimou's "Shanghai Triad".
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5/10
Not Much of a Gangster Movie
zardoz-1318 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Dustin Hoffman is a good actor, but he makes a terrible villain. In Robert Benton's "Billy Bathgate," Hoffman plays notorious mobster Dutch Schultz. Dutch isn't having a good time. The Feds want him for income evasion, and Dutch is desperate to get himself cleared. Nothing Dutch does can save his bacon. He is living on borrowed time even as he struggles to set things right. The Depression-Era epic is based on E. L. Doctorow's bestseller, and the action is told from the perspective of a young man, the eponymous Billy (Loren Dean) who goes from being a street juggler to one of Schultz's inner circle. Of course, Schultz is doomed from the outset and nobody, not even his closest associate Otto Berman (Steven Hill) can get him out of the fix that he is in. Benton doesn't so much wear out our patience as he deflates our expectation. Clearly, Hoffman is miscast and we never warm up to him as a ruthless gangster. He has some fiery moments where he shoots one henchman in the mouth at point blank range. Earlier, he sentenced another henchman, Bo Weinberg (Bruce Willis of "Die Hard") to death for double-crossing him. Basically, Dutch is not a sympathetic character so we have little reason to care about his fate. Furthermore, he isn't the kind of monster that makes us sit back and admire his nerve and verve. He is a thug with an instinct to kill. It doesn't help matters that Benton dispenses with any history of any of the characters. You have got to know the gangland universe of the 1930s to recognize not only Dutch but also the other guy Lucky Luciano (Stanley Tucci) who impersonates the urbane but dangerous Luciano. The film opens with Bo getting a big send-off courtesy of Dutch. The best part of "Billy Bathgate" is this opener that shows Bo with his feet in cement waiting to be deposited in the river. Our hero seals Bo's fate because he brings Dutch a poker chip from the casino that he was at plotting Dutch's downfall. Nobody but Billy is worth worrying about, but as the late critic Roger Ebert observed in his review, Billy is so enigmatic that he doesn't amount to a hill of beans. He gets himself into Dutch's gang and manages to extricate himself near the end, but he walks away as nobody that he care about. He gets out of the racket by the skin of his teeth. Nicole Kidman plays Bo's girlfriend; indeed, she is a married lady but her husband Harvey (Xander Berkeley of "Air Force One") is more interested in guys than girls. She manages to survive because she knows Luciano. Altogether, "Billy Bathgate" qualifies as an elegant potboiler, but you will remember little about it other than the cement shoes that Bruce Willis wears. The biggest surprises—if they are surprising for you—is Dustin Hoffman behaving in such a murderous manner. Steve Buscemi has a supporting role as one of Dutch's sharp-shooting gunsels, and a young Moira Kelly is on hand as a street girl in the Bronx. Nicole Kidman appears nude in a skinny dipping scene where she shows all briefly. Lensed in North Carolina and Saratoga Springs, New York.
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6/10
Flat, but not sure why
ADG9994 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I had a chance to watch "Billy Bathgate" for the first time today (hard to believe it was made over 20 years ago). I am a big fan of gangster pics, especially period ones (Godfather One and Two, Public Enemies, The Untouchables, The Departed, etc.),and I was hoping/expecting this to be in the same vein as those films. However, I was underwhelmed by the film, though I am not sure why. The young lead actor just did not click for me in his role (I kept thinking 'Too bad Leonardo DiCaprio was too young to be in this movie.') I did not sense any chemistry between him and Nicole Kidman-- or between her and Dustin Hoffman, or between her and Bruce Willis. All these men willing to do so much for her sake, but there was nothing about her character that seemed very compelling to me. The whole thing just seemed very flat--nothing about the film caught my imagination. I just kept recasting all the roles in my mind, trying to figure out who might been better suited to play them. All in all, a disappointment for me.
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5/10
A Job with the Mob
wes-connors4 December 2011
While hanging out with friends in 1935 New York City, Prohibition-era poor Loren Dean (as Billy "Bathgate" Behan) notices notorious gangster Dustin Hoffman (as Arthur "Dutch Schwartz" Flegenheimer) doing his dirty work. After admiring Mr. Dean's ability to juggle four balls, Mr. Hoffman gives the younger man a job with the mob. Dean begins by sweeping the floor, but is quickly promoted to keeping smoking hot girlfriend Nicole Kidman (as Drew) satisfied under the sheets...

One of the problems with "Billy Bathgate" is that Dean appears as a fully grown man who is being treated, and often acts, like he's a 14-year-old kid. Sometimes he is made to appear shorter and younger, but it's really a lost cause. Consequently, the scenes with Dean and the other men seem silly. And, even on his own, top-billed Hoffman's character registers nothing but ugly.

Dean is more convincing with Ms. Kidman, who has a brief "full frontal" moment after a swim. A highlight is the "Saratoga" horse-racing sequence, with Dean, Kidman and Steve Buscemi (as Irving). Kidman has a husband (Xander Berkeley) who likes to unbutton a man's shirt on the couch, and another (Bruce Willis) who gets to try on a pair of Hoffman's cement shoes...

***** Billy Bathgate (11/1/91) Robert Benton ~ Loren Dean, Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Steven Hill
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Great movie
cameronmarcusk29 September 2011
Billy bathgate is a wonderful coming of age tale of a young man that has strode too far down into the rabbit whole of the socio-economic decay of 1930s New York. He is a greenhorn, wet behind the ears and it slow to pick up things from the more established Dustin Hoffman but never the less the movie is pretty amazing. Nicole Kidman is perhaps the best part of this movie as the vixen/femme fatale with a penchant for dangerous men and a lack of a sense of personal preservation fuels her own self-destructive behavior; yet she is still mesmerizing to watch. All and all the movie is cinematic gold and definitely a must-see for any fan of good films. Another great to keep an eye on is Nicole's next best "Trespass", I just saw the trailer and it looks pretty amazing.
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6/10
A Romantic Gangster Movie? There Is Such a Thing
Film Watchin Fool10 September 2011
Watch this if...you really enjoy gangster movies, but don't mind a strong love story theme mixed in. Don't expect the quality of Goodfellas, Casino, etc.

Acting/Casting: 7* - Dustin Hoffman is great as Dutch Schultz and the film also has such co-stars as Nicole Kidman, Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi. I have trouble taking Loren Dean serious and feel he is a sub-par actor. Unfortunately, outside of Hoffman he is the main character.

Directing/Cinematography/Technical: 6* - Well directed and provides some graphic scenes that bring some minor realism to the film. I felt there were times when the movie dragged a little when it focused on the romantic angle. Overall the film is solid in this aspect.

Plot/Characters: 6* - I went into this movie expecting a gangster flick, which it does provide, but there is a very strong romantic theme thrown in. A little too much romance for me, but others may deem this desirable. It does manage to shed some light on the Dutch Schultz era.

Entertainment Value: 6* - Worth a watch and is entertaining. It does have it's slow parts and has a bit too much romance for me. There are several other gangster movies I would put above this on my list.

My Score: 7+6+6+6 = 25/4 = 6.25

Email your thoughts to filmwatchinfool@gmail.com
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4/10
lost in translation
Michael Neumann11 November 2010
The big screen adaptation of E. L. Doctorow's novel shows impressive credentials and handsome production values; so why is the finished film so inert? Is it because the story itself, about a fresh-faced Bronx kid who, during the Depression, learns the hard facts of criminal life from mobster Dutch Schultz (and falls for the boss' girlfriend) is so familiar? Could it be the abrupt, anti-climactic ending to the film's clever hopscotch structure? Or is it because the movie is too much about Billy (played by clean-cut newcomer Loren Dean, a throwback to pre-Touchstone Disney) and not his psychotic mentor? No evidence is visible of the much publicized production problems other than a few scenes where dialogue was obviously overdubbed, but the film still looks as if it were made under duress. A strong supporting cast, and Dustin Hoffman's exciting performance as the vulgar Dutch, are saving graces.
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10/10
Again Magnificent, so sadly almost invisible
Richard Virga26 October 2010
My third viewing since it came out. The thing is stirring, romantic. The score and its timing are magnificent. Every frame is part of this masterpiece. Why it never won an academy award, I don't know (I haven't checked what it was up against that year) It's a little small But as I get holder that means less and less when great craft is present, as it is here. All the talent was used and used well. You can see that everyone gave everything they had to their roles. Great cast. The understated (Berman) the overstated (Schultz) The oblivious fearless magnificent love object The kid All great performances Even the smaller parts, the loyal Schultz hit men, Luck Luciano All great and in the team pulling in just the right directions at the right times The photography, perfect. The score, that majestic theme coming in and lifting you up, pulling you along at the right time. Not a gangster movie, more an allegory and morality play. Everyone was an archetype, a representative of basic forces Right, Wrong, Evil, Goodness, Selflessness, Betrayal, Compassion, Desire, Tenderness, Madness, Destiny (played by Luck) It's a mesmerizing movie for anyone prepared to watch a timeless drama. Forget about the gangsters, it's mythic. And it does it by paying insanely close attention to characterization. But thematically (via the writer) and theatrically (via the director) I can't want to forget enough about it to cry again the next time.
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7/10
"You think Mr. Shultz is an ordinary man, Mrs. Preston, but you're wrong"
ackstasis31 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Having only recently enjoyed cinema screenings of the three films in Francis Ford Coppola's 'Godfather' saga (1972-1990), you can forgive me for entering into this particular gangster picture with inflated expectations. 'Billy Bathgate (1991),' directed by Robert Benton, certainly shares a few peripheral characteristics with the all-time great gangster epics – Hoffman's Dutch Schultz has the same confused, world-weary outlook as Michael Corleone in his later years, and Billy's interactions with fellow members of a street-gang recall Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in America (1984).' But this film isn't quite epic enough to fit the bill, and instead falls among the more stylish and less sprawling entries into the gangster genre, works like 'Miller's Crossing (1990)' and 'Road to Perdition (2002).' Viewed from this perspective, 'Billy Bathgate' is a good film, with a universally-strong leading and supporting cast, and excellent cinematography by Néstor Almendros (in his final film). Benton previously achieved success with the intimate, Oscar-winning family drama 'Kramer vs. Kramer (1979),' and here he brings the same keen eye for human interaction.

Billy Bathgate (Loren Dean, whose naggingly-familiar face I'd previously seen in 'Gattaca (1997)') is a street-kid, a bright and resourceful youth who idolises the local organised-crime boss, Dutch Schultz (Dustin Hoffman). When offered a place in Schultz's ranks, Billy quickly becomes acquainted with the thrills and pitfalls of money, guns and power. However, for the bulk of the film, Billy remains a relatively passive onlooker of his boss' downfall, observing his ingenuity and brutality largely as one separated from danger by a pane of glass (which is, indeed, how we get our first good look at him). Only after rejecting his naive notions of Schultz as something more than an "ordinary man" does Billy feel empowered to react against his boss' immoralities, breaching his duties to spare the life of Schultz's strong-willed but reckless girlfriend Drew Preston (Nicole Kidman). Among the film's supporting roles are many familiar faces, including Bruce Willis as a disloyal crime associate, Steve Buscemi as a scar-faced lackey, Stanley Tucci as a rival crime boss, and Mike Starr as an ill-fated employee.

Though the general circumstances (and abruptness) of his assassination is faithfully reproduced in the film, the true-life Dutch Schultz died on October 24, 1935, at age 33. Thus, Dustin Hoffman was already twenty years older than the man whom he was supposed to be playing, and this certainly influenced how Schultz was portrayed, as an outdated relic grappling to understand his weakening grip on The Bronx. Loren Dean is very good in the main role, and it's disappointing that he hasn't been more prominent in the last decade or so. Also, I hadn't realised that Nicole was such a stunning lady in the early 1990s; she gave me a vague Gene Tierney vibe, and took my breath away every moment she was on screen! As an aside, I was amused to notice that the film's Australian VHS cover rated 'Billy Bathgate' M15+, for "medium violence and coarse language." How the classification board managed to overlook no less than two instances of full-frontal female nudity is beyond me. This isn't 'The Godfather,' but any fan of gangster pictures should certainly look this one up.
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8/10
This Is NOT Goodfellas or Sopranos stuff, this is Drama with that as a backdrop.
dilbertsuperman4 March 2009
Well acted, with a nice dual story going on, add in Nicole Kidman naked and hey.. this isn't bad at all!! Add in Dustin damn Hoffman as our lead gangster, and stuff is getting interesting!! Our main character however, is BILLY- a streetwise kid with a heart of gold that wants to see if he has a shot at making it big with Dutch - the guy who owns the neighborhood. Things are in transition for Dutch, and Billy is exposed to the pressures and pitfalls of running a criminal organization by falling in with Dutch.

Enter Nicole Kidman- Dutch is smitten with her beauty, she's married but she has a thing for gangsters apparently...

This has a lot of tension in the triangle between Mrs. Harrison (Nicole), Dutch (Dustin) And Billy.

A cameo from Bruce Willis is a welcome counterpoint to the interpretation of Dutch, and you will recognize one of Dutch's henchmen from Fargo or Reservoir Dogs. ;-) I would have liked the ending to be a bit more elaborate but the ride there was pretty damn elaborate so it's all good.
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10/10
"An Ordinary Man, Your Mr. Schultz"
bkoganbing2 June 2008
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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Too Many "HOWs" About This Movie !
ahmed elshikh17 March 2008
How rare this movie is without a doubt. Why? I'll tell you. It's a rare time to see (Hoffman) as a gangster, a rare time to see a bad big production mafia movie at the 1990s, and a rare time to see a bunch of fine artists work in so much hatred for their jobs.. Or that what seemed eventually !

After watching I was thinking of so many silly remarks could be said about such a movie (Actually that was partly during the watching itself !) and the examples are endless : How it's one of the silliest crime movies I have ever seen, and this is a list you can find at it movies like (Mobsters) from the very same year as long as we're talking mafia. How the director (Robert Benton) managed to hide the shortness of (Hoffman) in front of (Nicole Kidman)'s very tall figure ?! How the great (Dustin Hoffman) delivered a very weak performance, even if you compared it to (Al Pacino)'s similar character at (Dick Tracy - 1990), putting in mind how it was close to caricature, and I mean (Pacino)'s character !

How this movie contained maybe the ugliest nude scene ever, and I'm not referring to the scenes of (Loren Dean) which were nude of any possible acting's talent !

Moreover, How it's a movie without any peculiarity unless for having the word "poor" all over everything, despite the huge 50 million budget !? How you'd feel all the time that some elements (or actors) are in the wrong place. And eventually How there is a strong strange sense of apathy like all the cast's members were hating what they were doing, or not convinced enough !

All in all if you watched this movie then it's a bad memory however forgettable, and if you didn't.. Then How lucky you are !
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5/10
Gangster film just above average
gcd708 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Mark Isham, of Windham Hill fame, has written a powerful, sweeping and moving score to accompany Robert Benton's gangster show, "Billy Bathgate", which unfortunately falls well short of that description.

Although Benton tries hard, along with Dustin Hoffman, Loren Dean and the ever-gorgeous Nicole Kidman, all their talent just cannot make up for the complete lack of plot. Absolutely nothing really ever happens in this film, and Benton (who was so much more impressive with "Places in the Heart") can't quite keep us interested in young Billy's exploits for any length of time. Hoffman is good (when isn't he), though he never quite sits right as the cruel gangster Dutch Schultz. Isham's score is a must though, in yet another okay gangster film.

Friday, May 8, 1992 - Hoyts Forest Hill Chase
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9/10
Far far under Al Capone
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU22 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The film is perfectly performed and absolutely vicious in the vision it gives of crime, or rather criminal ambition. One little non Italian is trying to take over the Bronx in New York from the Italians, among others who have come to terms with the Italians or Sicilians. His method is purely paranoid and psychotic. He kills, by hand if necessary, all those who would stand eventually in his way. A kid, a teenager, gets involved in this trip and he is shown as not understanding at all the why and the how of the crime business. He asks too many questions. He looks too much, and he even has some feeling for the rich woman who is buying herself a gangster gigolo who of course refuses the part. The poor boy will try to save the woman, who is married to a gay man, a very civil arrangement. So, he will be lucky to get out of the place just in time but to face the big boss in New York, and yet he will manage to escape. Amazing because unbelievable. But it is true Billy has to survive since he is telling the story, or rather the story is told from his point of view. He is the voyeur, the camera, the stalker, the witness, etc, and the film is shot through his own eyes. The pleasure is essentially in the acting.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine & University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
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6/10
Like a 'Godfather' Movie Centered on Tom Hagen
Tarasicodissa19 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If there is one thing that strikes you about Billy it is that he is not a killer. He likes the money and the sharp suits and the girls and the party life of being mobbed up. But he doesn't have it in him to look someone in the eye and pull the trigger (Notice how it never occurred to Dutch Schultz to ask Billy to kill Drew. Or even let him in on the plan). Billy is not Henry Hill.

Otto Berman, Schultz's money man, the 'consigliere', in the film immediately recognizes that about Billy and takes him under his wing in a mentoring way. He is constantly risking Schultz's psychotic wrath by protecting Billy, telling him more than Schultz means him to know. In the end he saves Billy's life by getting him out of that steak house when he knows that everyone has turned against them and they are doomed.

This film denies the viewer the vicarious thrill of reveling in mob movie violence on several counts. One is that Billy is a horrified onlooker to Schultz's violence. Never an active participant. The second is that Schultz's violence is always self-defeating. Prohibition is over and the Jewish Schultz has been reduced to whatever scraps Luciano and the Five Families deign to leave him (protection rackets and the Harlem numbers rackets). He is on the way down. It sure looks as if Luciano is perfectly happy to toss prosecutor Dewey a bone to make him happy and that bone will be Schultz. In the end Schultz's political protection abandons him notwithstanding the offer of a $17,000 bribe (multiply times 20. $340,000. That's a lot of money. After all, the $50 Berman lent Billy covered a new suit, black leather shoes, a new dress for Becky, a present for his Mom, and a night on the town credible enough to earn rooftop sex with Becky. Around a thousand.). And furthermore, the presence of Drew. She's no 'moll'. She is a bored, slumming wife and daughter of old money power and privilege. It is the people in her world who really pull the strings, who make phone calls, who have state troopers as personal bodyguards. Schultz is just a cheap hood, not even good enough to meet her friends as Billy is.

The ending for Billy is best. He is out of a world where he never belonged. He has a nice nest egg. And he will doubtless have the undying gratitude and friendship and maybe patronage of Drew and her powerful family.
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7/10
Engaging period gangster drama.
Robert J. Maxwell15 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The photography is impressive. It turns every surface damp and cold, every texture abrasive. The woods of Onandaga may be dark and deep but they ain't lovely. The forest floor is layered with long-fallen, discarded tannic leaf remnants. The rocks around the waterfall are sharp, the color of onyx. And if I were Nicole Kidman I wouldn't strip and leap naked into that black pool, although I'm happy that she was willing to. The cityscapes are worse. The vast expanse of the brick walls is ugly. The apartment interiors are furnished with stuffed chairs that look stiff and uninviting. And the set designer gives us walls that -- well, as Oscar Wilde said on his deathbed, "Either this wallpaper goes or I do." The Palace chop house in Newark, where Dutch and his gang are finally eliminated, has a brave little neon sign over its window but it still looks like the most dismal saloon in the world. Maybe it's just in the nature of Newark to seem melancholic.

Actually the movie is technically pretty well done. We can more or less follow the antics of Dutch Schultz (Hoffman) as he executes a betrayer (Willis) and adopts his girlfriend (Kidman), as well as a young man he takes a heterosexual fancy to (Dean). There are intermittent flashbacks to Willis's murder. They're terrifying. Willis is taken out into New York harbor on a boat, tied to a chair, his feet encased in a tub of drying cement. And all this time we thought that the feet-in-the-cement business was nothing more than a joke.

The performances are uniformly good. Hoffman is fine as a gangster who has broken his tether and gone wild, despite the warnings of his closest adviser, Steven Hill. Schultz puts his philosophy something like this -- "If I say I'll do somethin', I do it. If I say I won't do somethin', I don't do it. And if anybody gets in my way he knows I'll kill him." Loren Dean is the open-mouthed teenager from the slums who wants desperately to join the gang and winds up with a lot of money and his body parts barely intact. He's kind of clean-cut looking and does a good turn, without any chance for a bravura scene.

Nicole Kidman is a kind of perambulating cat house, a tough cookie with meltingly good looks. "You're Dutch's girl," Dean tells her. "I'm not his girl," she replies. "He's my gangster." That nose of hers. There must be an Intelligent Designer after all, and he's a geometrician who has had a hand in designing that nose. I'm trying to imagine Kidman playing, say, a nun -- but I can't do it. Stanley Tucci is excellent as Lucky Luciano, whom nobody but Arthur Fliegenheimer would want for a compadre.

There's a shocking scene in which Dutch interrupts himself in the middle of a sentence -- with a bullet. A dead man bleeds all over the hotel carpet and it won't come out. So while they're matter-of-factly lugging the body around in a laundry cart they break Dean's nose to provide fresh blood and to provide evidence of an accident for the hotel staff.

It's an intense movie with practically no jokes. I don't know that it adds much to cinematic history but it's a professional piece of work and keeps your interest.
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6/10
He's nothing he's nobody! All he ever did was to sweep up!
sol6 September 2006
***SPOILERS*** Truth and fiction are mixed into the movie "Billy Bathgate" and the results comes out like an upside-down cake; totally confusing. At the beginning of the film see Bo Weinberg, Bruce Willis, on his way to go the sleep with the fishes, deep sixth-ed, for something that he did to hurt his boss Dutch, Arthur Fegenheimer, Schultz (Dustin Hoffman). We never really find out what Bo did to deserve the fate awaiting him if he did anything at all since we have to take Bo's word that he's somehow been framed and is totally innocent of the charges that Dutch accuses him of.

Shipped out to sea with a pair of cement shoes Bo gives us this cock and bull story about how he was the reason for Dutch's amazing success as a big time hoodlum and now with him about, or be made, to check out for good Dutch's days will be numbered as both the Feds the State Special Prosecutor, Tom Dewy, as well as his fellow hoods will put an end to him. It's here that we get to see Billy Bathgate, Loren Dean, who together with Schultz's top hit-man Irving, Steve Buscemi, are to do in Bo by dropping him, cement shoes and all, overboard.

The movie goes into a series flashback showing how Billy got to know and become a member of Schultz's gang. The flashbacks are so badly mishandled that for a time you don't really know if you either in the past or the present. We don't even realize that Bo was done in, by drowning, until more then half way into the movie and even worse we don't get any solid information at all to why he was done in by Schultz in the first place! The only thing that Schultz was reported to be trying to do was make a deal with a rival hoodlum but were not told what it had to do with Bo!

It's later found out by Billy from the late Bo's girlfriend Drew, Nicole Kidman, that one night at a party with Bo, as she was almost out cold from drinking, she saw him with this guy Lucky Luciano, Stanley Tucci. Luciano's a mobster that Schultz's is allied with but all this came out after Bo was put on ice and even if, the Schultz-Luciano meeting, came out when he was still alive and breathing what did it exactly mean to Schultz anyway? Schultz was Luciano's partner in crime and even more important why would anyone believe someone like Drew who was admittedly dead dunk at the time of her supposedly seeing both Bo and Lucky together?

Schultz is shown in the movie as he really was in real life a trigger-happy and murderous psychotic and Hoffman's portrayal of him is right on target. The rest of the cast is just wasted in this movie by the silly lines and roles that their given. Drew is slated to be hit by Schultz because she knew that he had her boyfriend,Bo, murdered even though she was nowhere near the murder scene. Billy who was not only at the scene of Bo's murder but also participated in it is somehow left alive by the grateful Dutchman?

The hit on Drew was decided to take place at the Saratoga racetrack with Irving given the honors to do the job. Billy who was having an affair with Drew and knew about her forthcoming demise does everything possible to prevent her execution and calls her closet gay husband Harvey, Xander Berkeley, back in New York City to come over and rescue her.

It turns out that Harvey is a big shot in both city and state government and murdering his wife would bring the entire wrath of the state district attorney's office right on top of Schultz's head. All that keeps, together with Billy running interference for her at the track, Drew from being hit as she and Harvey leave the racetrack and fly back to NYC. With Schultz supposedly knowing all this about her and her husband Harvey Why then was Drew to be hit in the first place? Was it that Irving and the rest of the Schultz Gang were somehow ignorant of this very important and public fact, Drew's husband having power and influence, when Dutch put the hit on her?

"Billy Bathgate" also has to do with Schultz's legal problems with both the Feds and the State's Special Prosecutor Tom Dewey. Schultz, with the help of his lawyers, gets a change of venue for his trial on income tax evasion out of New York City to some obscure upstate town where he puts on an act as a nice guy. A person that you wound't mind inviting over to your house to have a couple of beers with.

Despite losing it and blowing away one of his associates Julie Martin, Mike Starr, for skimming off his hard earned cash Schultz's get's off the hook by a friendly jury verdict of not-guilty. Still it's that annoying prosecutor Tom Dewey who refuses to be paid off by Schultz to drop his case since Dewy is planning to run for governor of New York and later president. And in him putting the Dutchman behind bars may well be the feather in Dewy's cap that would get him elected: Dewy in fact wasn't losing both to FDR and later Harry Truman in the 1944 and 1948 presidential elections.

Determined to stop the now crazy Dutchman from killing Dewy Luciano ordered him and his gang members to be hit in a Newark stake-house. The irony of Luciano preventing Dewey from being murdered by Schultz's mobsters was that the next year Luciano himself was busted by Dewy for running a prostitution ring. That eventually lead to Luciano being deported back to his home in Italy as an undesirable alien. History has a strange way of straightening things out doesn't it.
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8/10
This Movie Deserves More Discussion
ccthemovieman-122 March 2006
It's kind of shocking to see less than 20 reviews (as of March, 2006) for a movie that stars Dustin Hoffman and Nicole Kidman and also has Bruce Willis and Loren Dean.

This story of gangster "Dutch" Schultz is told, like the beginning of Goodfellas, through the eyes of a young guy (Dean) who breaks into the business, so to speak. Probably in this case, he was more attracted to Kidman than the business, and who could blame him?

Dean was a complete no-name at the time and is a fine actor. Hoffman plays the crude Schultz and Kidman is his immoral wife. For some people, this film is remembered for quick full frontal nudity shots of Kidman. The most interesting person in the film, I thought, was Schultz' lawyer/confident Otto Berman, played by Steven Hill. Willis also helps make up a good cast, but his role is short.

For a gangster/action flick, there wasn't a lot of violence in here and I liked the period detail. It looks nice, especially on DVD. One downfall on some of these modern-day films: there isn't one morally upright character in the story and the filmmakers make Dean and Kidman into sympathetic figures. Overall, however, a good crime movie.
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9/10
Great gangster film in classic style
s-e-palmbring11 September 2005
Highly well done movie, wonderfully photographed and one of Dustin Hoffman's best work as an actor.Bruce Willis is also great as Schultz's second hand-Bo Weiberg-who sold Schultz out to the Syndicate and paid for that with his own life. No one really knows what happened to him. He just disappeared. It is said that Schultz asked for Lucky Luciano's OK for the killing of attorney Thomas Dewey who put the heat on organized crime in the mid thirties. Schultz was turned down on this and instead someone said: The Dutchman has to go. So ironically, maybe Luciano saved Dewey's life. The film also has strong performance of Steven Hill as Schultz's financial wizard Otto "Abbadabba" Berman. Nicknamed after a brand of candy he always ate. Topnotch cast and a story that is close to real life of Arthur Flegenheimer aka Dutch Schultz. Ralph Benton is a very underrated director.As a director he also made another great movie: Places In The Heart. Altogether, this is one of the best gangster film ever made in the great tradition of early classics like Public Enemy and Scarface.
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