Billy Bathgate

This is no masterpiece, but it’s still the first Robert Benton movie I’ve seen that I haven’t disliked. The well-ordered script by Tom Stoppard, based on the E.L. Doctorow novel, helps, as does a relatively restrained performance by Dustin Hoffman as Dutch Schultz; Patrizia Von Brandenstein’s production design (New York and environs in the mid-30s) and Nestor Almendros’s cinematography mesh agreeably as well. Loren Dean plays the title hero, an ambitious teenager from the South Bronx who manages to get hired by big-time racketeer Schultz; Steven Hill (especially good) and Bruce Willis play two of Schultz’s cohorts; and Nicole Kidman plays a moll who winds up in his entourage. Mark Isham supplied the fairly nondescript music (1991). (JR)

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