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  • Composed by Ennio Morricone
  • Epic Soundtrax / 1991 / 61:58

Barry Levinson’s Bugsy is a highly entertaining, well-acted (if historically dubious) biopic of Bugsy Siegel, which makes me wish the charismatic, always watchable Warren Beatty hadn’t virtually disappeared from the screen since (he’s only appeared in three films in the 20+ years since this one).  Ennio Morricone’s fairly low-key score accentuates the complex romantic relationships above all else.  The disc opens with “For Her, For Him” (the her and him in question presumably being Annette Bening and Beatty, great friends of the composer) which is itself a complex piece from an emotional point of view, an attractive melody underpinned by awkward harmonies cleverly summing up the relationship between the two leads.

There’s less complexity around the other main theme, the outstanding “Act of Faith”, a kind of paean to Bugsy’s romantic view of the Flamingo Hotel he wants to build near Las Vegas, which becomes his obsession.  Francesco Santucci’s gorgeous flugelhorn solo highlights one of those vintage Morricone melodies which can be savoured again and again.  Outside these two themes, which recur frequently, much of the rest of the score is very restrained “action” music (if it can even be called that) in which generally expressive strings wash over an undercurrent of very low-end piano figures and brass stingers, and more typical Morricone suspense writing which works very well at building tension in the film but is a bit more challenging to appreciate away from it.  Ocassionally the action scoring is a little more extroverted, such as in the entertaining “Bugsy’s Arrest” (which recalls parts of The Untouchables) where the composer evokes the era and classic crime drama sounds.  It’s a strong album – those two themes are both excellent, the construction of the musical journey impressive, and there are some nice period songs to round it off.  *** 1/2 |

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  1. Robin Fiander (Reply) on Tuesday 7 August, 2012 at 07:18

    Thanks James for another invaluable review. Your insights have formed the basis of the majority of my Morricone collection; a necessary service with the countless scores that the Maestro has produced!!! Great website

  2. Theo (Reply) on Wednesday 26 September, 2012 at 06:02

    Thanks for these great reviews of the maestro’s scores. Hope you will continue
    with these very insightful pieces which are always a delight to read!

  3. Max Australis (Reply) on Sunday 28 October, 2012 at 09:54


    You are always so insightful. You tell it like it is and your tastes correspond fairly much with mine.
    Any thoughts on “Beyond Rangoon” by Zimmer and “Highlander” by Kamen?
    Best film score reviews on the net by far.