Rolling Stone - 11/28/1991
"...Lavishly mounted and provocative entertainment....[Hoffman] is a roaring, hypnotic wonder..."
New York Times - 11/01/1991
"...Big, generous movie entertainment....[Hoffman] dominates the movie..."
E.L. Doctorow's acclaimed novel forms the basis of BILLY BATHGATE, which stars Loren Dean as the title character. In the New York of 1935, the naive Bronx-born teenager wangles his way into the gang of his hero, crime boss Dutch Schultz (Dustin Hoffman), as a gofer. Although the boy doesn't know it, Schultz is approaching the end of his storied career and the Feds are closing in, hoping to put him behind bars for income-tax evasion. The youth quickly learns about the endless violence, treachery, and double-crossing that characterize mob life, such as Schultz's cold-blooded execution of his former enforcer, Bo Weinberg (Bruce Willis). After Billy tips Dutch off about some traitorous activity in his organization, he moves up a couple of rungs and is soon entrusted with guarding the gangster's girlfriend, Drew Preston (Nicole Kidman). This proves to be something of a problem, since the beauty has a mind of her own and doesn't take anything from anybody, including Dutch. Worse still, Billy finds himself falling in love with her. Dean's pivotal performance strikes just the right balance between street-smart toughness and wide-eyed wonder, and the protean Hoffman adds his explosive portrait of the ruthless, beleaguered Schultz to his long list of unforgettable roles. Steven Hill also shines as Schultz's kindly, razor-sharp business adviser. The film features handsome, period-specific sets by Patrizia von Brandenstein and characteristically brilliant photography by legendary cinematographer Nestor Almendros (DAYS OF HEAVEN), in his last film.
Description by Buena Vista Home Entertainment.:
Two-time Academy Award(R)-winner Dustin Hoffman (Best Actor -- KRAMER VS. KRAMER, 1979; RAIN MAN, 1988) stars in the action-packed gangster epic detailing the rise and fall of notorious mobster Dutch Schultz as seen through the eyes of his young protege, Billy Bathgate. Billy, an ambitious streetwise kid seduced by the power, money, and glamour of crime, soon begins to seriously question if his passport to the good life is going to come from the fiery Dutch and his gang! Critically acclaimed and co-starring Bruce Willis (ARMEGEDDON) and Nicole Kidman (MOULIN ROUGE), BILLY BATHGATE delivers motion picture excitement you won't want to miss!
This film charts the rise and fall of the notorious gangster Dutch Schultz as seen through the eyes of Dutch's young protege, Billy Bathgate. Billy, a streetwise kid, is slowly seduced by the glamour of crime.
Coming Of Age |
Organized Crime |
Theatrical Release |
Estimated budget $40 million.
Shot in DuArt color; Technicolor prints.
The first film that writer/director Robert Benton directed from another person's screenplay.
Stephen Hill was cited as first-runner-up in the category of Best Supporting Actor by the New York Film Critics Circle in 1991.
Composer John Kander originally scored the film, but his work was replaced with a new score by Mark Isham.
Award-winning cinematographer Nestor Almendros ("Days of Heaven" 1978) died of lymphoma four months after this film was released. At the time he was scheduled to be Director of Photography on a project called "The Lost City" based on Armando Valladares' book "Against All Hope", about the author's life as a political prisoner in Castro's Cuba. The film was to star Andy Garcia, but as of September 1993 has still not been produced. Almendros had already co-directed (with Orlando Jimenez-Leal) his own film, "Improper Conduct", that criticized Castro's regime for its alleged persecution of homosexuals.