Our Countdown of the 25 Greatest Gambling Movies of All Time: #21 -- "Bugsy"

Other Nov 02, 2020

This is a daily countdown of the greatest gambling movies of all-time....ranked from #25 to #1.  Today, we feature #21.

Annette Bening as Virginia Hill – who could resist?

Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel often wrongly gets credited as the creator of what we know today as the fabulous Las Vegas Strip.  

In reality, Siegel was a idiot gangster frequently distracted his uncontrollable temper with an imbecilic lack of acumen for building and construction.

Grotesquely incompetent, he had utterly no clue what he was doing, and ended up paying the ultimate price for screwing the wrong people – including mob financier, Meyer Lansky.  Fed up with Siegel's senseless extravagance and gross mismanagement, just a few months after his casino-hotel, the Flamingo closed down temporarily after losing even more money than was originally envisioned, he was whacked in Los Angeles at the home of his girlfriend, Virginia Hill.

Sounds like one helluva' good story for a movie.  And – it is.

Despite Bugsy's numerous creative liberties and stylish soap-opera aura, it's fun to go along for the wild ride, even though we know the star is going to end up with laying in a pool of his own blood with a bullet to the face in the final climactic scene.  

Hey Bugsy, you should have keep a closer eye on the money.

This movie is belongs entirely to Warren Beatty, who carries the story from start to finish.  As a bio-epic, Bugsy's most intriguing moments involve Siegel’s building of the Flamingo Casino, and the trouble he eventually gets into with Meyer Lansky, played with steely-eyed precision by Ben Kingsley.  Annette Bening is also fabulous in the role of Virginia Hill.

Directed by Barry Levinson and released in 1991, Bugsy received eight Academy Award nominations.  It's not really about the act of gambling or chance, but the movie does give some accurate detail about the history of Las Vegas and how the casinos we know today came to be built on what was then a desolate highway.

Good movie, though it seems a bit dated now.  But still, well worth seeing for its focus on Las Vegas' gritty early days and very real infiltration by the Mafia.

The Pointspreads.ca Top-25 Countdown (with Links):

#22 – Oceans Eleven (2003)

#23 – Molly's Game (2017)

#24 – Owning Mahowny (2003)

#25 -- The Killing (1956)

The Flamingo Casino is still around, but chances are – you can't make a bet in the place Bugsy built.  So, instead, go make a wager at SPREADS.CA