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Blu-ray Review A Few Words About A few words about…™ Bugsy Malone – in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

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As most of you know, film archivist extraordinaire, Scott MacQueen has retired from a long stint a UCLA, and leaves behind films that will (or should) survive the ages.

As far as I'm aware, his final restoration was William Dieterle's All That Money Can Buy, a wonderfully devilish production starring Edward Arnold and Walter Huston. Magnificently photographed by Joseph August, it was unfortunately cut from 107 minutes, down to 85 as The Devil and Daniel Webster.

Now fully restored, and afaik heading our way via Criterion, it's one of the great films.

Mr. MacQueen's penultimate project at the archive was an unusual selection, but which fits in perfectly with some of his earlier two-color Technicolor restorative efforts - only this one a bit easier, as the original negative was extant.

You'll recognize most of the cast, as they were brought over from the Roach Studio in Culver City to Melrose and the Paramount lot.

The history is telling. Originally designed as pre-code gangster drama, which would push the barriers of burgeoning censorship in Hollywood, standards suddenly changed and the standard issue femme-fatales and hoods were replaced almost overnight in order to bring down what were essentially an early version of CAFE standards, especially since the studio still had some rather hot properties in production, with half-naked actress bathing in milk and other niceties.

Hence a musical gangster drama, frequented by the set of now early-teen performers.

While it's definitely a delightful oddity, the asset is that it can finally to be seen as designed (as opposed to it's varied black & white re-issues and broadcast appearances, going back to Million Dollar Movie.

Bugsy Malone is Mr. MacQueen at his best - taking fragile nitrate elements and creating something that appears that it might have been made as late as the '70s.

Paramount Presents spine #23.


Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Yes

Recommended


RAH
 
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Robert Crawford

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Yeah, I can't wait to watch "All That Money Can Buy/The Devil & Daniel Webster" in it's restored form. I revisited the 2003 Criterion DVD earlier this year. Huston as Mr. Scratch got robbed of an Oscar. As to "Bugsy Malone", I've watched that movie once and that was enough for me.;)
 

Garysb

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I thought "All That Money Can Buy" was restored using 16 mm film for the missing scenes. Has 35 mm footage been found ?
 

Robert Harris

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I thought "All That Money Can Buy" was restored using 16 mm film for the missing scenes. Has 35 mm footage been found ?
Don't believe so, but the final results are more than acceptable, considering the alternative.
 

AnthonyClarke

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Hal Roach is still so terribly underrated. The Custard Pie sequence here is one of his best efforts. And it's one of the only times I've accepted colourisation.
This one is on its way .. winging across the Pacific as I write. Can't wait.
 

haineshisway

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There is so much I can't stand about Bugsy Malone - good cast, cute idea, but simply not funny and having adults sing the songs is disastrous. Lovely that it looks great, but it's still - Bugsy Malone. Huge flops (at least in the US) always seem to garner the most love.
 

titch

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Opinion has always been sharply divided between those who think it's a real gem and those who hate it. For me, some stuff doesn't work but I like the Paul Williams score and the dancing is a lot of fun. I have to really commend Paramount for putting out such a varied selection in this series of films. Why should only the box-office successes get released?
 

AnthonyClarke

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I love your opinions, Bruce, even when they're so contrary to mine. Mind you, I've only ever watched the movie right through once, with my children .. like a lot of musicals, I flip from song to to song and I find the finale, once the custard pie stuff is over, very moving. Sort of pre-Lennon 'Imagine' in fact.
 

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