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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 5,848 users  
Reviews: 54 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:

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie  »

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ben Gazzara was unhappy with the role initially, unable to find a way to connect to Cosmo Vitelli. That changed when shooting a scene, Cassavetes spoke to Gazzara about the gangsters in the film as a metaphor for the people who are constantly trying to steal or ruin people's dreams. Cassavetes started to cry and Gazzara saw that playing Cosmo was representing John Cassavetes and the movie was a metaphor for the director's struggles for his own dreams. See more »

Quotes

Cosmo Vitelli: Now, teddy. Teddy. Everything takes work. We'll straighten it out. You know. You gotta work hard to be comfortable. Yeah, a lot of people kid themselves, you know. They-they know when they were born, they know where they're goin'... they know whether they're gonna go to heaven,whether they're gonna go to hell. They think they know that. They kid themselves. Right? But the only people... who are, you know, happy... are the people who are comfortable. That's right. Now, you take, uh, uh, carol, ...
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

 
Murky Realism
2 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

THE KILLING OF A Chinese BOOKIE is John Cassavetes fascinating look into the world of Cosmo Vitelli, owner of the Crazy Horse West, a California strip club. Cosmo, played by Ben Gazzara, owes a fortune in gambling debts, and agrees to commit a murder to payoff the loan. It's a set-up from the get go because the mob never believed he could pull it off, and was hoping that he would be killed, and then they would inherit his club. Cassavetes creates an homage to The French New Wave by employing surreal settings and improvisational dialog to create a Dadaist framework for the tale. Many scenes begin in near blackness, and abruptly, LA sunlight streams into the murky darkness while actors lines ricochet and overlap. The entertainment at the club is not the standard "Bump and Grind", but a strange 'Theater of The Absurd' where Cosmo orchestrates the action, or "he'll throw you out on your ass". Where Martin Scorsese used high energy rock'n'roll to highlight this same gangster demimonde, Cassavetes employs a more idiosyncratic soundtrack to heighten the psychological dimensions of the piece. Ben Gazzara provides an unforgettable portrait of a man grappling with a life that is beyond his ability to control. Also, Seymour Cassel puts in a wonderful performance as a mobbed up club owner. All of Cassavetes's films are noteworthy, and THE KILLING OF A Chinese BOOKIE is one of his finest.


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