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Miller's Crossing (1990)

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

Directors:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Reviews
Popularity
3,510 ( 213)

A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gabriel Byrne ... Tom Reagan
Marcia Gay Harden ... Verna
John Turturro ... Bernie Bernbaum
Jon Polito ... Johnny Caspar
J.E. Freeman ... Eddie Dane
Albert Finney ... Leo
Mike Starr ... Frankie
Al Mancini ... Tic-Tac
Richard Woods Richard Woods ... Mayor Dale Levander
Tom Toner ... O'Doole (as Thomas Toner)
Steve Buscemi ... Mink
Mario Todisco Mario Todisco ... Clarence "Drop" Johnson
Olek Krupa ... Tad
Michael Jeter ... Adolph
Lanny Flaherty ... Terry
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Storyline

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 grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Nothing is what it seems at Miller's Crossing See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | Irish | Yiddish

Release Date:

5 October 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

De paseo a la muerte See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,080,409
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Jon Polito was originally offered the role of Eddie Dane but he campaigned for the part of Johnny Caspar. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Eddie Dane: Where's Leo?
Hitman at Verna's: If I tell you, how do I know you won't kill me?
Eddie Dane: Because if you told me and I killed you and you were lying I wouldn't get to kill you *then*. Where's Leo?
Hitman at Verna's: He's moving around. He's getting his mob together tomorrow night. Whisky Nick's.
Eddie Dane: You sure?
Hitman at Verna's: Check it. It's gold.
Eddie Dane: You know what, yegg? I believe you.
[Shoots him]
See more »

Connections

Version of Roadhouse Nights (1930) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
The Intellectual's Gangster Film
24 May 2003 | by ams13See 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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