Warren Beatty delivers some of his best acting in years as Bugsy Siegel, the gangster responsible for the inception of Las Vegas as we now know it. His Flamingo Hotel, built with funds from his thriving Hollywood protection racket, was the first of its kind. Annette Bening plays the Hollywood extra who turns him into a fool for love. Barry Levinson (Avalon) directs capably from an intelligent and evocative script by James Toback (The Pick-Up Artist); Harvey Keitel, Ben Kingsley, Elliott Gould, and Joe Mantegna all effectively costar. A melancholy character study of romantic delirium and Napoleonic ambition with a nice sense of nuance, this is much more coherent than the general run of blockbusters (1991). (JR)

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