Billy Bathgate in a teenager in 1930's New York. Desperate to make something of himself he decides to work for the one person he admires - gangster Dutch Schultz.
A curious and finally unsuccessful adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel that I saw on cable over two decades after seeing it on the big screen. (I'm pretty sure that I read a feature on it in Premiere magazine back in the day , too.) Dustin Hoffman is impressively committed in the role of 1930's gangster Dutch Schultz, but I couldn't get over the fact of the performance. The arc of the film (directed by Robert Benton from a screenplay by Tom Stoppard) involves the moral education of Billy Bathgate (Loren Dean), a young man who attaches himself to Schultz's crew with hopes of making something of himself. Billy learns that even Schultz can be manipulated thanks to his relationship with…
2 out of 5 (C)
A 'by the numbers" Gangster flick that boasts an incredible cast but with a script that fails to let them flourish.
Dustin Hoffman is rather excellent as Dutch Schultz and the brief turn by Bruce Willis is rather good too. Unfortunately everyone else seems to be on autopilot.
The direction is fairly lacklustre, the score is mediocre and you never feel fully immersed in the richness of the 1930s setting.
I read the book this week and remembered there was a film which I vaguely recalled getting panned when it was released. I found I liked the film slightly more than the book; the dream-like, hypnotic prose became a bit soporific at times whereas the film seemed a bit tighter in structure. Having said that, Tom Stoppard's script is very faithful to the book.
I think this is a film which was ahead of its time - gangster films were out of favour in the '90s, whereas now Boardwalk Empire with its prohibition era setting and glacial pace is lauded. I think Billy Bathgate is due a reassessment - is an intelligent film with some excellent performances; especially Nicole Kidman…
The downfall of gangster Dutch Schultz as seen through the eyes of his biggest admirer, a young kid from The Bronx. Only worth watching for Dustin Hoffman's portrayal of Schultz.
what starts out as an interesting gangster film falls flat towards the end , could have been a little bit longer as it's far too short for this kind of film and the main casting of Billy leaves much to be desired. Hoffman is fantastic as Dutch Schultz
Fairly forgettable. I remember Nicole Kidman being nude.