Watching it now, there’s something worryingly ‘wrong’ with Alan Parker’s ‘Bugsy Malone’. It’s not that this Prohibition-era musical, set principally in a Chicago speakeasy and peopled by young children who talk, act and sing like adults, has dated badly. It’s just difficult to pinpoint the film’s raison d’être, other than to sate the ambitions of a bunch of preening stage-school prima donnas, many of whom never graced the screen again. Paul Williams’ annoyingly hummable honky-tonk soundtrack punctuates proceedings, which graze the zenith of that seventies inclination towards sexualising teen performers (think ‘Minipops’ in America). Parker decks out his pre-pubescent cast (including a young Jodie Foster) in tight-fitting leotards and pencil moustaches, then ends the film with a creamy Splurge Gun massacre that probably would’ve made Freud blush. In hindsight, the novelty of subverting character and narrative to such a grand extent must have made Parker seem like the Spike Jonze of his day. Let’s be thankful it didn’t spawn a genre.
Cast and crew