Why “American Hustle” Was Stillborn

April 8, 2016 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Comedy Film, LIFE | 0 Comments |

This sloppy and violently overpraised dud, with its almost obsessional sacrifice of content to form, could have been so much better.  In the early 1980s, director Louis Malle, with the superb Atlantic City under his belt, was developing a film based on the Abscam political scandal, to be called Moon Over Miami.  John Belushi would play the main character, con man Mel Weinberg (essentially the role Christian Bale played in the 2013 film).  Dan Aykroyd would be the FBI man looking to implement a sting operation.  But then Belushi inconveniently took a ‘speedball’ and died on 5 March, 1982.  So crucial were his talents to such a scuzzy character that Malle junked the project.  And the ultimate movie cruelly shows how right that decision was, because the 2013 cast (of considerable talent, normally) swim hopelessly in an ocean of confusion and naff 1970’s fashions, revealing their aptitude for such a story to be roughly nil.



Belushi at School (above), Malle (left)


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