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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

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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.

Director:

John Cassavetes

Writer:

John Cassavetes
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Gazzara ... Cosmo Vittelli
Timothy Carey ... Flo (as Timothy Agoglia Carey)
Seymour Cassel ... Mort Weil
Robert Phillips ... Phil
Morgan Woodward ... The Boss
John Kullers John Kullers ... The Accountant (as John Red Kullers)
Al Ruban Al Ruban ... Marty Reitz
Azizi Johari Azizi Johari ... Rachel
Virginia Carrington Virginia Carrington ... Mama
Meade Roberts Meade Roberts ... Mr. Sophistication
Alice Friedland Alice Friedland ... Sherry
Donna Gordon Donna Gordon ... Margo Donnar (as Donna Marie Gordon)
Haji ... Haji
Carol Warren Carol Warren ... Carol
Derna Wong Davis Derna Wong Davis ... Derna
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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:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 October 1977 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Mordet på en kinesisk bookmaker See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Faces Distribution See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1978 Re-Release)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The shorter 108 minute John Cassavetes 1978, referred to on the DVD as the Director's Cut, has scenes in it not in the 1976 original 135 minute cut. The scenes in the later version also have different edits and different orders. See more »

Quotes

Cosmo Vitelli: I'm a club owner. I deal in girls.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original version runs 135 minutes. Two years after the release director John Cassavetes prepared a different theatrical cut with a running time of 108 minutes, both adding and removing scenes resulting in a different film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Northern Exposure: Zarya (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

After the Ball
(uncredited)
Written by Charles Harris
Performed by Meade Roberts and others
See more »

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User Reviews

Absolutely unforgettable!
11 October 2001 | by InfofreakSee all my reviews

'The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie' is one of the most interesting and original movies I've ever seen. I would include it with movies such as 'Blow Up', 'Performance' and 'Eraserhead', which may not have much to do with each other on the surface, but are what I would call puzzlers. On first viewing you go "well, it was different... I'm not sure if I LIKED it, but it sure was original..." Then later you find yourself haunted by it. You go back and watch it again and again, and each time you discover some nuance or emotion or idea, or a certain scene or line that resonates. These movies are ones that STAY with you.

The plot of 'Bookie' is pretty straightforward. A strip club owner gets into debt with the Mob and is pressured into murdering a bookie. Other directors such as Scorsese or Frankenheimer or Friedkin or Mann could have made an tight, exciting thriller out of such a plot. But John Cassavetes goes for a completely different approach, and doesn't play by "the rules". He ignores the obvious way of proceeding, slows things down, focuses on characters and relationships and moments, and ends up with a cinematic poem.

That may sound pretentious to some, so be it, but that's what it is. The beauty of the photography combined with the improvised dialogue by some of the best character actors of American post-War movies (Gazzara, Cassel, Carey), makes this movie unique. There's nothing quite like this movie, and it's one that if you sit back and just let it do its thing, will remain absolutely unforgettable.

One of the 1970s greatest achievements.


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