Bugsy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The flick offered a perfectly acceptable transfer.
Sharpness usually seemed good. At times I thought it came across as a little soft, some of which stemmed from the period photographic style. Other slightly ill-defined segments made less sense, though these remained in the minority and most of the movie was clear and concise. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and edge enhancement stayed minimal.
Source flaws were also minor. Grain was a little heavy, but otherwise the defects were insignificant. Other than the occasional speck, the flick stayed clean.
Colors were affected by the film’s period style. Bugsy went with a subdued, slightly golden tone much of the time. Within its palette, the hues usually seemed fine, though they could be a little too flat on occasion. Blacks were a bit on the inky side and never boasted great depth, while shadows tended to be a little dense. Neither issue really distracted, but both seemed somewhat off. Overall, this was a consistently decent picture; it just didn’t excel in any way.
On the other hand, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Bugsy proved surprisingly impressive. I expected a low-key affair from the soundfield but it served as notably more active than anticipated. Though atmosphere dominated the spectrum, it did so in a very involving manner. The various settings came across as full and broad as they kept us in the action. Elements flowed quite smoothly across the channels.
Music presented strong stereo imaging, and the surrounds added a lot to the package. A few louder sequences like those with planes or trains brought out the back speakers best, and musical pieces also gave us good punch as well. This was a nicely engaging soundfield.
Audio quality also proved satisfying. Speech was consistently natural and crisp, with no edginess or other issues. Music seemed lively and bright, while effects showed good accuracy and range. The soundtrack worked nicely and filled out the film well.
Most of this set’s extras reside on its second disc, as DVD One only includes some Previews. We find ads for The Da Vinci Code, Click, Edison Force and “Dynamic Duos” on TV DVD.
Over on Disc Two, the prime attraction comes from a documentary called The Road to Damascus: The Re-Invention of Bugsy Siegel. This 90-minute and 30-second program presents the usual mix of movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from director Barry Levinson, screenwriter James Toback, film critic Richard Schickel, actors Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Elliott Gould, production designer Dennis Gassner, costume designer Albert Wolsky, and cinematographer Allen Daviau. We get notes on the story’s path to the screen and its development, the choice of Levinson as director and his style during the production, cast, characters and performances, specifics of some scenes and dialogue, sets, locations, and related problems, costume design, style and cinematography, the score, and reactions to the film.
Most of the information comes from a roundtable chat among Beatty, Levinson and Toback. They interact in a friendly and charming manner; they come across as three old friends, and their rapport makes his a lively and fun piece. They offer plenty of amusing stories, many of which revolve around Beatty’s romance with Bening. Really, there are so many fun tales that it’s hard to narrow down the biggest gems, though I also very much enjoy the story of Kingsley’s audition.
The other participants pop up less frequently and come from separate interviews. Their material doesn’t live up to the tone and charm of the Levinson/Beatty/Toback stuff, but those elements help flesh out the program. All of this material combines to make “Damascus” a rich and informative piece.
Two Deleted Scenes come next. We find “Ben and the Countess” (0:31) and “Ben and Virginia” (0:53). The first simply shows the pair as they dance, while the second gives us more of the pair in the aftermath of a violent incident. Neither seems even remotely memorable.
Finally, we find Bugsy Siegel’s “Screen Test”. A vanity project glimpses in the film, this three-minute and six-second clip shows us Beatty as Bugsy. This is his “audition film” from when the gangster tried to become an actor. It’s a fun little extra.
Though I don’t expect much from Barry Levinson, I think Bugsy gives us a strong piece of work. The flick tells a fascinating story in a full, involving manner and boasts a simply terrific performance from Warren Beatty. The DVD offers decent picture, surprisingly good audio, and extras highlighted by a strong documentary. This turns out to be a solid movie and DVD.