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1001 Bugsy Malone
Added on 08th August 2020

Writer and director Alan Parker
First released 1976

A joyful madcap comedy musical.


Bugsy Malone is a gangster movie with a difference – a comedy musical with children playing adults, and toy ‘splurge guns’ that fire whipped cream. It follows the fortunes of young Bugsy Malone, hopelessly in love with singer Blousey Brown, and caught in the crossfire between rival mobsters Fat Sam and Dandy Dan.

Why we chose it

Bugsy Malone is a delightful and ingenious introduction to gangster films, with strong characters, a heart-warming storyline, memorable song and dance numbers and many comic touches, from car chases (in mob mobiles pedalled by the children) to a spectacular slapstick showdown.

The film received widespread critical acclaim for its script, musical numbers and the remarkable performances of its child actors, three of whom - Jodie Foster, Phil Daniels and Dexter Fletcher – went on to establish successful film careers.

The film was a commercial hit in the UK where it is still aired at Christmas, and its central message, that if ‘you give a little love… it all comes back to you’ is enjoyed as much as ever.

Where it came from

This was the first feature film written and directed by Alan Parker, who worked in advertising in London. Struggling to break into film, Parker decided to combine two popular themes, musicals and ‘the mob’ and loosely base his screenplay on the real lives of American gangsters during the 1920s Prohibition era, when alcohol was banned. When Parker told the story to his children on a long car journey his son suggested that the heroes be kids.

After a long search for financial backing Parker finally gained the help of film producer David Puttnam, and the film was made at Pinewood Studios. Looking back, Parker describes Bugsy as ‘the sort of crazy idea that you only attempt at the beginning of your career’.

Where it went next

Parker rewrote the story as a book, graphic novel and theatrical script for schools.

Associated stories

Alan Parker's other film musicals include Fame, Evita and The Commitments.

Added on 08th August 2020

Writer and director Alan Parker
First released 1976