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Miller's Crossing (1990)

 -  Crime | Drama | Thriller  -  5 October 1990 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 88,057 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 281 user | 121 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

Tom Regan, an advisor to a Prohibition-era crime boss, tries to keep the peace between warring mobs but gets caught in divided loyalties.

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Title: Miller's Crossing (1990)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Leo
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Al Mancini ...
Richard Woods ...
Thomas Toner ...
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Mario Todisco ...
Clarence "Drop" Johnson
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Tad
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Lanny Flaherty ...
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Storyline

A highly styled 'genre' film which can perhaps be seen as a pastiche of all gangster movies. Tom Reagan is the laconic anti-hero of this amoral tale which is also, paradoxically, a look at morals within the criminal underworld of the 1930s. Two rival gangs vie for control of a city where the police are pawns, and the periodic busts of illicit drinking establishments are no more than a way for one gang to get back at the other. Black humour and shocking violence compete for screen time as we question whether or not Tom, right-hand man of the Irish mob leader, really has a heart. Written by <morry@argonet.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You can dangle. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

5 October 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De paseo a la muerte  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$5,080,409 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bernie is referred to as a Schmatte. 'Schmatte' is a Yiddish word for an old rag and was also used colloquially as a label for things of poor quality or anything worthless. Caspar's use is derogatory, labeling Bernie worthless both as a man and as a Jew. See more »

Goofs

After Tom loses his hat to Verna, he goes to her apartment and spends the night (Apartment #3). Yet, the next morning in the very next scene they are both at Tom's apartment, a different building, the Barton Arms, the same morning that Leo dropped by. See more »

Quotes

Tic-Tac: You gotta remember to put one in his BRAIN. Your first shot puts him down, then you put one in his BRAIN. Then he's dead. Then we go home.
See more »


Soundtracks

Decatur Street Tutti
Written and Performed by Jabbo Smith
Courtesy of MCA Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The Intellectual's Gangster Film
24 May 2003 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"I'm talkin' about friendship. I'm talkin' about character. I'm talkin' about--hell Leo, I ain't embarrassed to use the word--ethics." So Jon Polito, as crime-boss Johnny "Caspar," describes to his overlord, Albert Finney as "Leo," his point of view while seeking permission to kill a double-crossing underling (played by John Turturro) in the opening lines of __Miller's Crossing__. Had the script sought only to explore the power relationship between the two chief mobsters (one the rising Italian, the other the diminishing Irishman), this would have been a very good gangster film. It portrays an earlier era in the nation's history of organized crime (perhaps Chicago in the late '20s), and one can imagine Leo as the Irish predecessor of __The Godfather__'s Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando).

Just as __The Godfather__ was really about family relationships and the ethical complexities arising when familial loyalty collides with the business of violence, however, __Miller's Crossing__ is actually about, as Caspar tells us, friendship and character put under the enormous strain of that same business of violence. The film, therefore, centers on Leo's trusted adviser Tom (played flawlessly by the Irish actor Gabriel Byrne). Tom is not a gunsel, but the brain behind Leo's muscle. His decisions carry life and death consequences, however, and we watch him try to live with himself, to preserve his character, as he works out a code that will help him and his friends survive brutally violent upheavals. Critics of the film have cited its graphic cruelty and the seeming coldness of its characters, yet these are essential features in developing the film's theme.

Sentimentality might get any of the major characters killed, and one notes the pathos and dark humor that underline an ironic distance that each character, especially Tom, cultivates as a tool for survival.

Clues abound as we wonder what Tom will do next. Follow, for example, the men's hats over the course of the film. Who "keeps his lid on," so to speak, and who loses his? Note the number of times characters exclaim "Jesus!" or "Damn!" when saying the name "Tom." What has he sacrificed? Has he damned himself?

Spectacular action sequences, beautiful production values, top-notch camera work by Barry Sonnenfeld, a haunting musical score, and the best dialogue ever written by the Coen brothers make this a great gangster film. The fascinating and complex theme of friendship, character, and ethics make it one of the great films from any genre.


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Tom's discussion with Bernie over the phone EyeInSky
Tarantino's films are great - but he should take notes on this film. scottishjimmy
Give it another try... morganwill
Is 'Miller's Crossing' in your top ten favourite films? earthdiedscreaming1
how difficult was the opening shot of the movie? rodin_indi
Man.. Tom sure does take a lot of beatings rmtg
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