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The Music of Chance (1993)

R | | Drama | 4 June 1993 (USA)
A thrill seeker agrees to help a shady professional gambler win a high stakes poker game. However, they lose and become captives of two eccentric rich men who decide to forcibly keep them on their remote gated ranch as indentured servants.

Director:

Philip Haas

Writers:

Philip Haas (screenplay), Belinda Haas (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Spader ... Jack Pozzi
Mandy Patinkin ... Jim Nashe
M. Emmet Walsh ... Calvin Murks
Charles Durning ... Bill Flower
Joel Grey ... Willy Stone
Samantha Mathis ... Tiffany
Chris Penn ... Floyd
Pearl Jones Pearl Jones ... Louise
Jordan Spainhour Jordan Spainhour ... Floyd Jr.
Paul Auster ... Driver
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Storyline

Whilst traveling across America living off the money from a large inheritance, ex-fireman Nashe has a chance meeting with Pozzi, a professional gambler and card shark. Nashe agrees to fund the penniless Pozzi in a game of poker against two eccentric millionaires, Flower and Stone, in an attempt to regain some of his spent fortune. His gamble has unforeseen and bizarre consequences for both himself and Pozzi. This film is an almost exact translation of the novel by Paul Auster. Written by Stewart Kristiansen <cskjs@swan.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Jack Pozzi is about to take the biggest gamble of his life...

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 June 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La musica del caso See more »

Filming Locations:

New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,359, 6 June 1993

Gross USA:

$313,967

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$313,967
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

In the scene where Jim Nashe is in bed after the party, he reads a book. You can see that the cover indicates the book is one by Paul Auster, who wrote the novel upon which the movie is based. See more »

Quotes

Calvin Murks: Mornin' boys.
See more »

Connections

References White Heat (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

Jerusalem
Music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
Lyrics by William Blake
Performed by Mandy Patinkin
See more »

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User Reviews

There's different ways to learn lessons
19 November 2004 | by magicpowersSee all my reviews

The premise of the movie is that two very different kind of drifters hook up. One being Pozzi (James Spader), a professional card player and the other Nashe (Mandy Patinkin), an ex-firefighter whose wife abandoned him and their young daughter. He has left his child with his sister and is driving around the country in an attempt to run from his pain.

Nashe decides to bankroll Pozzi in a poker game with two rich eccentrics (played dauntingly enough by Charles Durning and Joel Grey). Pozzi is convinced the men will be an easy take but as fate would have it, he not only loses Nashe's last ten grand and beloved BMW, but with Nashe's help, they get themselves ten thousand dollars in debt to the two wealthy men. One of the players has the idea of letting them pay off the debt by building a wall monument out of 10,000 stones imported from a castle in Europe. Pozzi is outraged but cannot bring himself to leave Nashe, who is agreeable to working off the debt. They'll live in a trailer in the meadow for several weeks while working on the monument. Their days of labor, supervised by Calvin (M. Emmet Walsh) and evening discussions are interesting enough.

I have the feeling the movie would have been more enjoyable if I'd read the novel and couldn't help but imagine how the book was worded as I watched the movie a second time. It is one of those films I can watch again and again. I'm still trying to figure out the lessons besides the obvious: gambles, playing out of your league, getting in over your head and that there's no such thing as a "sure thing".

Pozzi and Nashe may have different world views but they don't clash, they actually compliment each other rather nicely. I thought it profound when Pozzi blames Nashe for breaking his winning streak by wandering off during the fabled game and into the "City of the World" room. There Nashe swipes a tiny replica of their antagonists. Pozzi asserts that Nashe broke the streak by violating the Universe in some way, destroying the harmony they had enjoyed while winning. Nashe thinks this absurd and that Pozzi is giving power to a little piece of wood and sets it on fire to prove his point. This "City of the World" room is toy land built by one of the rich poker player's (Joel Grey's Stone). It's his view of what was and what should be. Disturbingly enough, it contains prisoners happily paying for their crimes. It's a tool for foreshadowing some events and also portrays the wealthy eccentric's power over their pawns. And though the "City of the World" is Stone's baby, one gets the feeling that Charles Durning's Flower character was the real ruler of their kingdom.

The movie only features about ten actors, making it clean and simple fare. James Spader does a superb job of making a creepy, little hustler likable. He is helped by Mandy Patinkin's soothing performance of a damaged but composed soul who's sympathy for Pozzi is contagious.

Beneath Nashe's stoicism his emotions are as palpable as Pozzi's outward agitation. A soft-spoken and strangely plotted story, it's quite a rare gem.


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