It is a bit easier to understand why the motion picture business is having so many difficulties, particularly financial problems, when one reads that ``Bugsy,'' the controversial Warren Beatty's effort to portray and delineate mob activity in America, has gained a leading 10 nominations for the annual Academy Awards.
There have been a lot of films with the same kind of theme which were done earlier and much better, and some may be inclined to think that if ``Bugsy'' is the best film of the past year, it is no wonder Hollywood is hurting.
One conclusion is that the egotistical Beatty and his people did an excellent job of promoting the venture. Noted for his elusiveness where the media are concerned, Beatty came out of his various hiding places to appear on all sorts of electronic talk shows and visit with print reporters when it came time to hustle the bloody, violent and profane film in which he starred. Is this movie really deserving of all these nominations or are they simply a reward to an arrogant Beatty for suddenly becoming so gracious and charming?
Many longtime moviegoers can point to a number of ``gang'' and ``mob'' crime epics that did what ``Bugsy'' has done, only with more style and much better, among them the first two ``Godfather'' pieces, the down-and-dirty ``Goodfellas,'' and the lengthy ``Once Upon a Time in America.'' As the late Bugsy Siegel, Beatty in his film presided over a long-running series of killings, beatings and other illegal ventures to put Las Vegas, Nev., on the map. He died by the same kind of sword with which he gained power.
The four-letter language in the film soon reaches the overkill stage. There are good performances by a number of individuals, including Beatty, but no better than a number of efforts by predecessors.
Early evidence is that while ``Bugsy'' may not win in all the 10 categories where it is entered, its representatives will walk off with a lot of statues the night of the awards ceremony for the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
How sad that the film business continues to be trapped in the stage where another testimonial to violence, deviant human behavior and bad taste can be so heavily applauded. The American public has a right to expect much better.