Bugsy (1991)

In the 1991 film Bugsy, Ben “Bugsy” Siegel (Warren Beatty) wouldn’t take no for an answer. To him, everything had a price, and with money—or a gun—everything was negotiable. This colourful depiction chronicles 1940s mobster Siegel’s move to Hollywood where he took Tinsel Town by storm, making headway with local gangsters and pursuing starlet Virginia Hill (Annette Bening), leading to a wildly intense romance. He planned many things, like going to Italy to murder Mussolini through an Italian countess and developing what would eventually become Sin City—the driving force behind building Las Vegas to be the gambling paradise it is today. Counting on the Hoover Dam to create an economy in the desert, he convinced his mobster crew to invest in the Flamingo, a hotel and casino he promised would succeed. The volatile and vain Seigel controlled his gang of mobsters with unpredictable outbursts, guns and money, but the money and deals couldn’t save his family or Virginia, who all suffered due to his criminal ways. The murder of his fallen-from-grace colleague Harry Greenberg (Elliot Gould) led to Seigel’s arrest and dropped him in the center of a media frenzy. Slippery as an eel, Seigel would evade prosecution, deal with bad luck, bad money management, and persist with the Flamingo until his own murder in 1947.

Barry Levinson’s mobster flick about this infamously explosive Jewish gangster was a star-studded affair with Sir Ben Kingsley as mob boss Meyer Lansky, Harvey Keitel as Bugsy’s right-hand man Mickey Cohen, and Joe Mantegna as Siegel’s best friend, George Raft. Bugsy was nominated for 10 Oscars in 1992 and won two: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for Canadian production designer Dennis Gassner and Nancy Haigh, and Best Costume Design for Albert Wolsky.

Review by Carolyn Mauricette

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Canadian connection

Production Design by Dennis Gassner
Dennis Gassner has worked on many acclaimed productions, including fellow Canadian Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049.