Bugsy Malone is a musical gangster film made in 1976. Directed by Alan Parker. What is unique about the film is not the combination between the two not-so-matching genres, but rather, the use of children cast. Despite the fact of its odd choice of casting, the film resembles many of the thematic aspects from the depression-era American gangster films.
The story of Bugsy Malone was directed adapted by the stories of the Al Capone and Bugs Moran, which draw a direct parallel to the classic gangster movies like Scarface because of its temporal setting – it is set to the depression era. The characters, though they are all children, behave and talk just like the real gangsters in the classic gangster movies do. Their common character traits all come together in terms of their character wants. They all want power and money. One of the main characters, Fat Sam, his struggle with Dandy Dan, which is the other gangster in the area, presents the traditional power struggle in the world of the gangster. Most of the conflicts are caused by the power hungry nature of the characters. Fat Sam ambition of expanding his control is also shown by his need of getting new weapons, which also automatically results the demise of many of his boys. These events all resemble the thematic elements in the typical gangster films. For example, the machine gun played a big part in the bloody fight between Tony and the other gang. Tony’s fascination and Fat Sam’s fascination of guns because of the destruction it can give to the competitors show the similar thematic element and makes Bugsy Malone having more a gangster-film feel to it.
Another important trait of gangster film is the idea of American dream. This them is very much explored in the Bugsy Malone character and his girlfriend (in the end) Blousey. Blousey has big dreams. She wants to be a star in Hollywood, and such a character want drives her to where she lands at the end. Bugsy Malone has similar dreams but his need isn’t as strong, aside from his need for money. His dream gets fulfilled when he was driven by the push from the love for Blousey. Romance, which is also an important but not overwhelming element in gangster, plays an important factor to make the American dream come true.
The ending song has an interesting effect to the film. Most gangster films have either a negative ending (e.g. Scarface) or ambiguous ending (e.g. Miller’s Crossing). Bugsy Malone, however, has such an optimistic song at the end to tie the two gangs together. Such an ending is made much due to its nature of being a children’s movie. It is the combination of the two makes Bugsy Malone a much more interesting film to watch.