Tracy (1990) with Madonna. who. it has to be said. beat him at his own game. The new generation‘s female equivalent of all that he ever was and more. she humbled him on screen in her tour documentary In Bed With Madonna. reducing him to a figure smaller than the lookalike Dick Tracy dolls that still gather dust in a Disney warehouse. He nicknamed her Buzzbomb. and she bombed him out. But while many an ageing Lothario would have hung up his. . . ehm. whatever. Beatty has bounced back with the Three Bs Bening. baby and Bugsy.

The latter has stormed the 1992 Academy Awards. with ten nominations. including Best Picture. Best Actor. Best Director. Best Original Screenplay and two Best Supporting Actors (Ben Kingsley and Harvey Keitel). Whether or not the ceremony on 30 March brings a few extra presents to Beatty. who is 55 on the day. remains to be seen. He. however. has supreme confidence in the project. despite criticisms that it glorifies the gangster by presenting the cold-blooded killer Siegel as


a ‘visionary‘. the man who took the Nevada dust and turned it into that glittering capital of the gambling world. Las Vegas.

‘Ifyou do a picture about a gangster.‘ he explains. ‘you know you‘ve got a built-in conflict and you‘re probably going to have some visual action. and you usually have psychopathic personalities. which will be colourful and unexpected because they have no control over themselves. This all makes for dramatic movie material. . . I think we‘re justified in calling him a tragic figure he was brought down by his own hubris but I don‘t like to call gangsters ‘men ofvision‘ necessarily.‘

Bening sums it up more succinctly when she says ‘We‘re not trying to condone him. we‘re trying to reveal him . . . To be glamorous is to be truthful in this film.‘ And it‘s that glamour, that surface gloss. which lingers as the lasting memory of Bugsy. Bening‘s portrayal of Siegel‘s girlfriend. Virginia Hill. is the best thing in the movie (and about the only thing overlooked when the Oscar nominations were given out) and


Splendour in the Grass (1961) The Roman Spring ol Mrs Stone (1961) All Fall Down (1962)

Lilith (1964)

Mickey One (1965)

Promise Her Anything (1966) Kaleidoscope (1966)

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

The Only Game In Town (1970) McOahe and Mrs Miller (1971) Dollars (1971)

The Parallax View (1974) Shampoo (1975)

The Fortune (1975)

Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Beds (1961)

ishtar (1967)

Dick Tracy (1996)

Bugsy (1991)


The Great Outdoors (1968) Valmont (1969)

Postcards From The Edge (1996) The Gritters (1990)

Guilty 6y Suspicion (1991) Regarding Henry (1991)

Bugsy (1991)

she cracks the whip on James Toback‘s dialogue. lifting the gangsters‘ moll to a different sphere entirely. In the end. however. it‘s a pretty package sure enough. but rather empty when unwrapped a bit like transcribing an interview with Warren Beatty. Interesting. then. to hear what he has to say about the character he plays: ‘He. more than other gangsters. exemplified this desire and technique of disguising what he really was attempting to seem glamorous. He was as vain and conceited with the superficial as we say in the movie. and he gravitated to Hollywood because Hollywood seemed the perfect place to glamorise himself. He became involved with glamorous movie actresses. and he used this thing to conceal the darker reality ofwhat he was.‘

Not to imply that he has any gangland tendancies. but I doubt if anyone could write a more apt epitaph for Beatty himself.

Bugsy opens widely across Scotland on Friday 2 7 March.

TheflList 27 Multir— 9 April 1992 7