Tom Reagan (played by Gabriel Byrne) is the right-hand man, and chief adviser, to a mob boss, Leo (Albert Finney). Trouble is brewing between Leo and another mob boss, Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito), over the activities of a bookie, Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) and Leo and Tom are at odds on how to deal with it. Meanwhile, Tom is in a secret relationship with Leo's girlfriend, Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), who happens to be the sister of Bernie. In trying to resolve the issue, Tom is cast out from Leo's camp and ultimately finds himself stuck in the middle between several deadly, unforgiving parties. Written by
The film never expressly states in what year it takes place. The Model A Fords seen throughout the film may provide a baseline, as that automobile was introduced in 1927, but other cars are also visible, ranging from 1926 to 1930 model years. The calendar in Johnny Casper's office could also provide a hint, but it does not appear to be reliable. The month is not visible on the calendar, but the first is shown to be on a Saturday. That Saturday is in red to indicate a holiday, and the only holiday on the 1st of the month in the US is New Years Day. However, the weather in the film certainly does not seem like winter weather in what is probably New York City. Ultimately, it seems likely that the calendar is not a useful guide. If you choose to ignore the weather, and note that the film takes place during Prohibition, the only possible years (when the 1st fell on a Saturday) are 1921 and 1927. See more »
At 00:36:10, when Tom talks with Verna, she's holding cigarette between the forefinger and the middle finger. At 00:36:18, she's holding it between the thumb and the forefinger. And back to the start at 00:36:25. See more »
I was blown away by this film the first time I saw it. After giving myself a couple hours to shake off my dumbfounding amazement, I became addicted. This film has everything. It's witty in its dialogue, suspenseful in its action and violence, beautiful in its cinematography, and (being so like the Coen brothers) it can make you laugh and cringe in the same scene.
The script is superb. The characters are absorbing and the dialogue (as some reviewers have already observed) flows like words in a book. You have to watch some scenes more than once to totally get what's going on, and even then you still might miss something.
The acting is top-notch, even down to the lowest thug. Gabriel Byrne plays the antihero Tom to lonely perfection and Marcia Gay Harden's hooker without a golden heart is excellent. The rest of the cast is great as well, including good mobster Albert Finney and a funny cameo by Steven Buscemi. However, the show is stolen threefold by Jon Polito as the erratic Italian underboss Johnny Caspar, John Tuturro as the slimy "schmatta" Bernie Bernbaum and J.E. Freeman as Caspar's dark, vicious adviser/thug Eddie Dane. Jon Polito's monologue in the very beginning on ethics and Tuturro's desperate pleas at Miller's Crossing are both powerful scenes, and Freeman commands the screen whenever he is on.
My rating is a 10/10. The best part about this movie is that it gets better and better every time you watch it. Oh yeah...the Danny Boy scene is reason enough to watch this movie anyway.
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