Billy Bathgate - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Billy Bathgate Reviews

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December 12, 2015
I just read the book so decided to check out the movie. Not good. A few good vignettes but overall disjointed and emotionless. No particular reason for Dustin Hoffman to play Dutch Schultz, and the actor playing Billy Bathgate was a limp noodle. On top of that they radically changed the ending which ended any chance they had of redeeming this movie. I hope someone makes an attempt at a remake because the book was great!
½ August 16, 2015
150815: Thoroughly enjoyed Dustin Hoffman & Steven Hill in this film. Their characters relationship was wonderful, right to the end. Decent film with a stacked cast.
June 29, 2015
strong act, nice movie
½ May 20, 2015
OK historical gangster pic
April 1, 2015
Not ground shaking but the performances save this otherwise average bunch of wiseguys.
½ August 30, 2013
Admittedly, the only reason I watched Billy Bathgate was to see a pre-plastic surgery Nicole Kidman appeal nude, but also I'm a fan of Dustin Hoffman and Bruce Willis and so a pairing of them on screen in a gangster biopic seemed like a thing to check out.

The first thing that becomes apparent in Billy Bathgate is how it consists of a strong film style to it which combines elements of classical gangster films, namely the costumes and setting, with other qualities derivative of modern crime films in terms of strong cinematography and lighting, making it a uniquely styled gangster movie.
And it's a well acted film too, with a talented cast giving what they can to it.
Loren Dean is good in the titular role as Billy Bathgate, and despite looking a bit old to be the 15 year old he's playing, Loren Dean conveys his character's strong sense of responsibility and understanding of stoic behaviour amidst getting involved in the world of crime merely as a means to earn a name and some money. Although the film doesn't build a strong character for him, Loren Dean brings a quality of his own to the role of Billy Bathgate. A certain implied vulnerability and simplicity that I think are appropriate and right for the role.
Although his conveying of confidence could have been better, Dustin Hoffman's performance as Arthur "Dutch Schultz" Flegenheimer is good. The film doesn't build him a character strong enough to powerfully portray the infamous gangster and he takes a backseat to the emphasis on Billy Bathgate himself, but Dustin Hoffman works with poor material and does above bare minimum to pass.
Bruce Willis also was rich with emotional intensity in his performance as Bo Weinberg, using tenacity and strong dramatisation to make the audience sympathise with him.
Lastly, Nicole Kidman worked strongly early on in her career, serving as the symbol of seduction into the world of crime through voice articulation, and the aforementioned nudity. Her chemistry with Loren Dean is constantly interesting, and is the main thing worth following in the story to find out what happens.

But despite the cast and style of the film, Billy Bathgate is no success.
The main problem with Billy Bathgate was how bland it is. Like, the story was supposed to be interesting, but whatever the dynamics were didn't get thoroughly covered in the script and were essentially implied in the story, much to the viewer's chagrin. The strength of the storytelling in Billy Bathgate is very vague and Robert Benton supplies no real direction to the story, leaving it without strength or any formidable storytelling initiative, rendering Billy Bathgate nothing more than a bunch of attractive people in costumes getting into senseless dramatic dynamics which seem to be relevant to the story but are actually causing the plot line to deviate away from the importance in the life of the gangster chronicled in this semi-biopic. It's approach to the story follows his protege Billy Bathgate through his various experiences but fails to give meaning to them making it a tedious form of storytelling without depth into either of the involved topics. Im assuming there was more importance in the novel, but Tom Stoppard deviated from it so far that novel writer E.L. Doctorow distanced himself from the project. It's safe to assume this is an unfaithful and failed adaptation.
Frankly, Billy Bathgate isn't much of a gangster film at all, because its more of a coming-of-age story about a young boy becoming involved in a life of crime without giving a second thought as to why or what is occurring. Essentially, Billy Bathgate isn't much more than eye candy. Big budget eye candy. And it's candy with a taste that isn't that memorable, save from Nicole Kidman's suave nudity in it. But a $48 Million film can't be saved by a naked Australian woman alone, and a loss of over $32 Million should prove that to Robert Benton. He would have had more luck if he told an interesting story, but instead he shifted all his focus into the wrong end of the barrel.
½ March 28, 2013
Solid production wise, but a bore of a film. The main problem is the title character; Billy Bathgate is so stupid. His "gee wiz," eyes wide open naivete is unbelievable, especially for a gangster story. "Oh no, I join up with the mob and I see people killed in front of me." The actor isn't lead material, that's probably the main other problem. Loren Dean doesn't do one thing of interest with his performace. Maybe if they had made the character darker and more cold blooded (and also smarter) it would have helped. Dustin Hoffman gives a good performance, but nothing you haven't seen before. Bruce Willis adds a bit of likeability to the film in the first act, but then he "disappears," and any life the movie had goes out. Nicole Kidman, while usually a good to very great actress, appears pretty weak here. But that may have more to do with her character and what she's given that any fault of her own.
January 17, 2013
Billy Bathgate is an ok gangster movie that could have been way better without the focus of the title character. Dustin Hoffman and Nicole Kidman naked is the most interesting things about this movie.
August 23, 2012
Even full frontal nudity with Nicole Kidman this movie is not worth watching....
February 8, 2012
Loved the acting but I didnt think this movie was filmed very well at all.
½ February 7, 2012
I have seen this maybe ten times now. I'm a sucker for gangster movies, especially one about a gangster most people have never heard of. I went in expecting nothing when I first saw it, and came away impressed.
½ February 7, 2012
I have seen this maybe ten times now. I'm a sucker for gangster movies, especially one about a gangster most people have never heard of. I went in expecting nothing when I first saw it, and came away impressed.
October 29, 2011
All time great mobster classic movie, one of the best out there. Just watch it and see. Why do I waste me time, so many movies to review because everyone in the world sucks ass and doesn't have any taste and does know awesomeness when they see it.
Movie dick over and out
October 18, 2011
Hungry for a taste of the good life, streetwise New York teenager Billy Bathgate joins the gang of fiery 1930s mobster Dutch Schultz. Billy is seduced by the power, money and glamour of crime and quickly rises up through the ranks. But when he falls for Drew Preston, Dutch's sultry, strong-willed girlfriend, he finds himself ensnared in a dangerous love triangle that just might get both of them killed.

stars Nicole Kidman, Dustin Hoffman, Loren Dean, Bruce Willis, Steven Hill, Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi, Billy Jaye and John Costelloe.

directed by Robert Benton.
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2011
Billy Bathgate should be much more exciting and gritty than it is. The story of Dutch Schultz and his decline offers a wealth of material for Hollywood to make a competent gangster film. Instead, Billy Bathgate focuses more on Schultz's protege, and his brief love interest in Nicole Kidman. This succeeds in making the movie boring at times.That said, Dustin Hoffman was excellent as Schultz, and Bruce Willis was effective as well, though ultimately wasted. Hoffman and the excellent world building, the most realistic depiction of 1930s New York I've seen, are why I ultimately enjoyed it, despite its' prominent flaws.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2011
I don't remember too much about it now but my lingering impression is that it was better than I expected for yet another gangster yarn, plus there's always bonus points for Nicole Kidman skinnydipping.
May 14, 2011
It's all Dustin Hoffman's show as he chews up the scenery as legendary gangland boss Dutch Schulz, idolized from afar by the title character, played underwhelmingly by Loren Dean. While events are seen through his eyes, Dutch tries to beat the rap in an upstate trial, and Billy is tasked with playing babysitter to socialite/gun moll Kidman, by far the most intriguing and enigmatic character in the film - would have liked to have known more about her story. Good supporting work by Steven Hill and solid production design help a good deal.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2011
note to self: learn how to juggle
March 10, 2011
Loved the acting but I didnt think this movie was filmed very well at all.
½ January 15, 2011
A masterpiece from the master himself; Hoffman delivers in style!!
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