Billy Bathgate (film)

Billy Bathgate is a 1991 American biographical gangster film directed by Robert Benton, starring Loren Dean as the title character and Dustin Hoffman as real-life gangster Dutch Schultz. The film co-stars Nicole Kidman, Steven Hill, Steve Buscemi, and Bruce Willis. Although Billy is a fictional character, at least four of the other characters in the film were real people from New York of the 1930s. The screenplay was adapted by British writer Tom Stoppard from E.L. Doctorow's novel of the same name. However, Doctorow distanced himself from the film for the extensive deviations from the book. It received mixed to negative reviews and was a box office bomb, grossing a mere $15.5 million against its $48 million budget.

Billy Bathgate
Billy Bathgate.jpg
Original Theatrical Poster
Directed byRobert Benton
Produced byRobert F. Colesbury
Arlene Donovan
Screenplay byTom Stoppard
Based onBilly Bathgate
by E.L. Doctorow
Music byMark Isham
CinematographyNéstor Almendros
Edited byAlan Heim
David Ray
Robert M. Reitano
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • November 1, 1991 (1991-11-01)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$48 million
Box office$15.5 million

Plot summaryEdit

Billy Behan is a poor teenage boy from the Bronx. One day he catches the attention of gangster Dutch Schultz. Changing his last name to Bathgate, after a local street, he goes to work for Schultz's organization, serving mostly as a gopher for Schultz. Billy is present when Schultz murders his former partner Bo Weinberg, who Schultz believes betrayed him. Schultz then begins a relationship with Weinberg's beautiful, married, girlfriend, Drew Preston.

Facing legal charges in a court in upstate New York, Schultz brings Billy and Drew along. He successfully charms the locals, presenting himself as charming and good natured. While his boss Dutch stands trial, Billy's job is to watch over Drew. His loyalties to Schultz are tested as he begins falling in love with the flirtatious Drew. Realizing that Drew is about to be killed, Billy calls her husband, who hurries to town and takes her home before Schultz's men can make their move.

Having beaten the rap in court, Dutch is indicted again on federal tax evasion charges. He wants to have federal prosecutor Thomas Dewey murdered, but his request is rejected by the Mafia Commission. Schultz sends Billy to another gangster with some bribe money, but the effort is rejected. When Billy returns with the bad news, he and Schultz have a falling out and Billy is fired by Schultz's associate Otto, who lets him keep the bribe money as a severance package. As Billy leaves, he is abducted and beaten by gangsters working for Lucky Luciano. The men storm Dutch's hideout and kill everyone inside. Billy is taken before Luciano, who warns him that he knows where Billy's family lives, before letting him go.



The film was shot in Hamlet, North Carolina and Saratoga Springs, New York.



The movie received mixed reviews.[1][2][3] It has a "Rotten" rating of 38% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews.[4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[5]

Box officeEdit

The movie debuted at No. 4[6] and underperformed against its $48 million budget.

Awards and nominationsEdit

The film received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture (Nicole Kidman).


  1. ^ "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Bathgate': Gangsters Without Any Soul". Los Angeles Times. 1991-11-01. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  2. ^ "Review/Film; Dutch Schultz's World Of Kill and Be Killed". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  3. ^ "Billy Bathgate". Chicago Sun Times. 1991-11-01. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "CinemaScore".
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office : 'People' Tops a Lackluster Bunch". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-08.

External linksEdit