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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

 -  Drama  -  8 October 1977 (Sweden)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,991 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 52 critic

A proud strip club owner is forced to come to terms with himself as a man, when his gambling addiction gets him in hot water with the mob, who offer him only one alternative.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Flo (as Timothy Agoglia Carey)
...
Mort Weil
Robert Phillips ...
Phil
...
The Boss
John Kullers ...
The Accountant (as John Red Kullers)
Al Ruban ...
Marty Reitz
Azizi Johari ...
Virginia Carrington ...
Mama
Meade Roberts ...
Alice Friedland ...
...
Margo Donnar (as Donna Marie Gordon)
Haji ...
Carol Warren ...
Derna Wong Davis ...
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Storyline

Cosmo Vitelli owns the Crazy Horse West, a strip joint in California. He's laconic, a Korean War vet, and a gambler. When we meet him, he's making his last payment on a gambling debt. Then, he promptly loses $23,000 playing poker at an illegal local casino. The guys he owes this time aren't so friendly, pressuring him for immediate payment. Then they suggest that he kill a Chinese bookie to wipe off the debt. Vitelli and the film move back and forth between the double-crossing, murderous insincerity of the gamblers and the friendships, sweetness, and even love among Vitelli, the dancers, a dancer's mother, and the club's singer, Mr. Sophistication. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 October 1977 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Mordet på en kinesisk bookmaker  »

Box Office

Gross:

SEK 1,298,042 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1978 Re-Release)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The amount of money that Cosmo Vitelli (Ben Gazzara) lost in gambling debts was US $23,000. See more »

Quotes

Flo: That jerk Karl Marx said opium was the... religion of people. I got news for him, it's money.
See more »

Connections

References Jaws (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

I Can't Give You Anything but Love
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Performed by Meade Roberts and others
See more »

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User Reviews

"The most important thing in life is to be comfortable."
17 February 1999 | by (los angeles) – See all my reviews

I've shown this movie to baffled girlfriends and eye-rolling friends who've left the room after twenty minutes. The picture was essentially unreleased upon its completion in 1976, and is now available on video only because of the retrospectives of Cassavetes' work that followed his death. The movie is considered bewildering even by many Cassavetes champions, but for me it ranks among the greatest American movies. As Cosmo Vitelli, the strip-joint owner who's a clown who thinks he's a king, the sublimely reptilian Ben Gazzara leans into an offstage mike and tells the audience, "And if you have any complaints--any complaints at all--we'll throw you right out on your ass." Like Jake LaMotta, or Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, Cosmo is a walking aria of male self-destruction. He finally pays off the shylocks he's in hock to for his place--the Crazy Horse West--and celebrates with a gambling spree that puts him right back where he started. To pay his debts, Cosmo agrees to murder a Chinese kingpin the L.A. mob has marked for death--but that only gives the barest indication of the strange, ecstatic poetry of Cassavetes' greatest and farthest-out-on-a-limb movie. The movie is a strangely crumpled form of film noir; a classic Cassavetes character portrait, with more than the usual romanticism and self-disgust; a super-subliminal essay on Vietnam and Watergate; and an example of a one-of-a-kind lyricism that's closer to 2001 than a gangster picture. With its odd rhythms, Warholish color and substance-altered performances, it's one of the rare movies for which there exists no point of comparison.


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