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Plot: 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. Runtime: 115 mins Release Date: 25 Jul 1991
One of the great undiscovered gems of recent movie history. In my opinion, Miller's crossing is easily the best of the Coen brothers' films, and one of the true classics of American cinema.On the surface, the story of warring gangsters in 1920's America is one that has been told many times before. But never before has it been handled with such artistry and precision. The rather violent action scenes keep the movie going along at a brisk pace, and the camera work is every bit the equal of "Fargo".I became a lifelong Gabriel Byrne fan as a result of this movie, despite <more>
his best efforts to disappoint me since. Byrne's Tom Reagan is a compellingly amoral character, who takes more unchallenged beatings than perhaps anyone in film history. Men beat him up. Women beat him up. Collection men, bookies, gangsters, and even his boss gives him a terrible thrashing, and he hardly lifts a finger in opposition with one notably humorous exception .Albert Finney is tremendous as Leo, the local crime boss. His "Danny Boy" scene should go down in film history as one of the greatest pieces ever filmed. Jon Polito is at once absurdly funny and threateningly psychotic as Johnny Caspar, Leo's rival in the turf war. J.E. Freeman, John Turturro, and Marcia Gay Harden all lend strong support in a cast that was assembled and performs to near perfection.I will never understand why this film has not received more recognition and acclaim. As an example of the modern style of Film Noir, it has no equals "The Usual Suspects" would rate a close second . Among gangster films, only "The Godfather" can compete, and "Miller's Crossing" features superior pacing and dialog, although it lacks "The Godfather's" epic proportions. Perhaps someday this film will receive, like "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Touch of Evil", the belated accolades it so richly deserves.
"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 , <more>
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.
this movie is splendid, magnificent, unique: don't miss it (by pzanardo)
In my opinion, "Miller's crossing" is by far the top work of the Coen brothers, and one of the best movies in the history of cinema. The huge Coens' talent being now fully recognized, I hope that this masterpiece will get the credit it deserves.The plot deals with the war between Irish and Italian gangsters, caused by the Jewish crook Bernie the Coens like to joke with the rivalry of different ethnic groups . The crook's affectionate sister Verna is the mistress of Leo O' Bannion, the boss of the Irish gang, who consequently opposes to have him killed by the <more>
Italians. But Tom Reagan, the old mate and factotum of O' Bannion, has different plans... The story is extremely interesting, exciting, entertaining. There are no flaws in the development of the plot, despite its complications a homage to the intricate classic film-noirs of the Golden Age . The script is sharp, cynical, sarcastic, full of memorable lines and of black sense of humor, with many delightful subtleties: the celebrated Coens' wit at its best. The photography is magnificent and very original. The music is great. The action scenes are superbly filmed: violence explodes suddenly and unexpectedly. The finale is perfect and splendidly crowns the movie.Tom Reagan, played by Gabriel Byrne, is one of the most memorable characters I have seen on the screen. A gangster who tries to use intelligence instead of violence with alternate success , following a peculiar moral code. Cynical but devoted to friendship. A systematic liar, but capable of generosity. Despite his skills, he is not ambitious, he prefer to be subject to a big-shot. And then, with all his smartness, he strangely chooses to destroy himself with alcohol and gambling. A magnificent psychological design. With this sober, brilliant, subtle performance, worth of a Bogart in great shape, Byrne just shows that he is the best actor in the world my opinion, of course .The aged Irish boss O' Bannion - Albert Finney is the opposite of Reagan: naive, sometimes dumb, with a strong love and childish attachment for his girl-friend, he is confident only in his own charisma and in brutal force. Speaking of brutal force, he will show in a gun-fight that he's still the number one, in spite of years passing incidentally: this is one of the best action scenes I've ever seen . Also the other characters are shaped with outstanding intelligence and care, from the main ones Bernie, his sister, the Italian boss, his right-hand Dane to the last of the thugs. The whole cast is fantastic: Finney, Turturro, Marcia Gay Hayden, Polito, Freeman and all the other excellent supporting actors. A special mention for the scaring gangster Eddie Dane - J.E. Freeman: he really makes you shriver. Turturro is a bit histrionic for my taste, but this is his style of acting, suited for the role of the crook, mean and coward, but cunning and dangerous as a snake.To summarize, in "Miller's Crossing" fun, drama, action, suspense, mystery are masterly blended with deeper themes such as love, friendship and human loneliness. This movie is splendid, magnificent, unique, don't miss it.
One of the most beautiful gangster films ever made (by FilmOtaku)
"Millers Crossing", directed by Joel Coen and written by Joel and Ethan Coen is arguably one of the most gorgeous films from the gangster genre ever made. Tom Reagan Gabriel Byrne is the right hand man to Leo Albert Finney , who is the reigning crime boss in an unnamed town in the 1930's. Hot on Leo's heels for control of the town is Johnny Caspar John Polito , and to make matters worse, Leo is making bad decisions regarding crooked booker Bernie Bernbaum John Turturro , whom Caspar wants dead. We find out that Leo is keeping Bernie protected because he is involved with <more>
Bernie's sister Verna Marcia Gay Harden . However, when it is revealed that Tom and Verna are an item, Leo and Tom break ties, resulting in Tom trying to play both sides against each other in order to ensure his own survival.While "Millers Crossing" does not yet show the signature eccentricities of their later films, the Coen brothers' dark humor is definitely present, as is their unabashed use of violence. Their excellent use of music in their films is on prominent display here, particularly in the incredible "Danny Boy" sequence that I remember rewinding several times the first few times I rented the movie years ago. Barry Sonnenfeld's cinematography is beautiful, whether it is a forest scene or simply a short scene in Tom's apartment. The acting of the primaries, some of them later becoming Coen brothers regulars is excellent, particularly Turturro's performance. It was this film that put him on my radar and I have subsequently looked out for his work since then.I first saw this film in the theater because it was a gangster flick, and I have always been a fan of that genre. "Millers Crossing" was the first Coen brothers' film that I had ever seen, and even back in high school when I saw this one for the first time, I knew that they were special filmmakers. While not on the same level of oddity as David Lynch, they don't shy away from including bizarre moments the goon in the chair screaming over and over for no discernible reason . Films like "Millers Crossing", viewed while in my mid-teens certainly cultivated my later love for alternative cinema and made me a near-obsessive fan of the Coen brothers' work, an obsession that continues to this day. 9/10 --Shelly
A gangster film master piece warning spoilers (by GUYspm)
Well the coens have done it againMost of the films the Coens have made contain their unique dialouge, energetic and bueatiful camera work and strong performances. Miller's Crossing is no exception.Director of photography bathes the film in deep, warm shadows. The plot is typically complex and the art direction is splendid. The performances are all around excellent. Special mention must be given to Gabrial Byrne who plays his character so hard boiled we are reminded of the heros of other classic Noir films like Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. The Coens love to pay homage to earlier films of <more>
these generes. With Miller's Crossing they pay homage to both the Gangster and Noir generes.Gabrial Byrnes character is so shrouded in secrets and yet his eys reveal that of a man that is constantly thinking about what is going on around him and yet is able to stay above it all. We never really understand his motivations for betraying his boss and releasing turturos character yet by the end we know that he is the smartest character in the film. Marcia Gay Harden plays her femme fatal role perfectly. Like most noir films, it is usually something involving a female that is the catalyst to the plot. Byrnes Character may be the most complex of the film yet his is not the flashiest. That honor goes to Abert Finney and Jon Polito.Pherhaps the reason behind the fact that these two are so easily manipulated by Byrne's character is that they act so impulsivly with mostly lethal results. Watching the film one must be amazed at how clever Byrnes character is seeing as how close to death he comes so many times in the film. Special mention must also be given to John Turtorro. While he plays a very dislikable character, the monolouge he delivers at "Millers Crossing" where he is suppose to be killed has a way of cutting into a viewers heart and evoking so much sympathy. This is all turned around by his double cross. Anyone looking for the Coens trademark visual style will love the shootout at Albert Finneys house set to the tune of Danny Boy. Hands down, one must agree that Finney got the best scene of the film blasting down a dark street with a tommy gun staying perfectly calm. Finney plays his role with so much gusto we are reminded of other toughguy gangsters like Al Pacinos "Tony Montana", Joe Pescis "Tommy Devito" and "Nicky Santoro" and finally James Caans "Sonny Corleone"We are left with a brooding Noir/Gangster film perfectly molded by the Coen brothers that can satisfy any of their fans.In the end though, see this wonderful film for yourself
excellent 90s version of an old gangster flick (by MartinHafer)
This movie reminded me of an old Warner Brothers gangster flick--the sort of ones that Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney made famous BUT with the addition of blood, violence and a little bit of sex to make it for a contemporary audience. Plus, in addition to these updates, the plot is quite a bit more complicated and the characters' motivations especially the lead's are often unclear. The movie's language, especially, seemed straight out of this Hollywood past and was very enjoyable. The acting, writing and direction really couldn't have been much better. It was especially <more>
exciting to watch the characters LEO and CASPER chew up the scenes like Edward G. Robbinson! Despite this film coming from the Coen brothers, it is NOT a comedy, though there are a few mildly amusing moments.Also, because of the high level of gore and a scene of a person puking in close-up , the movie was given an R-rating and should not be seen by kids.
"Nobody knows anybody. Not that well." (by ackstasis)
One of our first glimpses of "Miller's Crossing" is the stunning image of a worn black fedora coming to a rest in the middle of a forest, before a gust of wind sweeps it up and sends it sailing down an avenue of trees. Later in the film, Tom Reagan Gabriel Byrne recalls a dream he once had, in which he is walking through the woods and he loses his hat in the wind. So this is his dream, his nightmare perhaps. In his dream, he doesn't chase the hat, Tom firmly asserts: "Nothing more foolish than a man chasin' his hat." What is the importance of this hat? Could <more>
it represent his self-respect? We notice that Tom loses his hat whenever he is in a vulnerable state: At a drunken card game, already with a hefty debt to dangerous people, Tom wages him hat and loses it. As a bloodthirsty hit man prepares to kill him, Tom's hat is cast aside. As a former friend pounds away at his face with heavy fists, Tom fumbles to keep the hat within his grasp. However, perhaps there is a much simpler explanation for the hat's prominent inclusion in the film:JOEL COEN: "Everybody asks us questions about that hat, and there isn't any answer really. It's not a symbol, it doesn't have any particular meaning..." ETHAN COEN: "The hat doesn't "represent" anything, it's just a hat blown by the wind." JOEL COEN: It's an image that came to us, that we liked, and it just implanted itself. It's a kind of practical guiding thread, but there's no need to look for deep meanings." excerpt: "Joel & Ethan Coen: Blood Siblings" Nevertheless, the unforgettable image of the hat dancing away in the wind is a poignant and fascinating one, whether or not the Coens intended anything significant by its inclusion. The film is positively brimming with stunningly beautiful moments and, indeed, cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld himself declared that the film must have a "handsome" look to it, as opposed to the wacky, energetic camera movements of such previous Coen films as "Raising Arizona."The script, as always with the Coen brothers' films, is brilliantly written. Many critics have often complained that, though well-written, their dialogue comes across as unrealistic, and ultimately as though it has, indeed, been written. I don't really believe that this is relevant this is merely Joel and Ethan Coen's style; they do not strive for realism in their films, only for delicately-scripted, immensely watchable entertainment. The plot of Miller's Crossing is not really very dissimilar to many other Prohibition-era crime dramas, but the Coens have most certainly made this film their own, despite several respectful homages to other classic films in the genre. Tom Reagan Gabriel Byrne, "The Usual Suspects" , the adviser to an aging crime boss, Leo O'Bannon Albert Finney, "Big Fish" , does not quite fit into the world of organised crime and political corruption he possesses a good brain, but completely lacks any heart. In a profession when "friendships," loyalty and ethics are so important in staying alive, Tom is uncertain of his ultimate place in society.The acting in this film is wonderful, with each of the actors taking full advantage of another snappy Coen brothers script. Byrne, with his perfectly-fitting Irish accent, does a good job of portraying a complex character, in the process taking more unchallenged beatings than perhaps any other film character in history. Finney is brilliant as a Leo, with one of the most memorable scenes in the film arising when two fully-equipped hit men arrive at his home to assassinate him. Demonstrating admirable quick-thinking and agility, the aging Leo shows that he, indeed, "can still trade body-blows with any man in this town," being quite an artist with the Tommy gun. Jon Polito is suitably crazy, powerful, stupid and threatening as Johnny Caspar, Leo's rival crime boss in the town, as is J.E. Freeman as Caspar's merciless henchman, known as "The Dane." Marcia Gay Harden is also very good as Verna Bernbaum, Leo's and occasionally Tom's girl. However, full accolades are awarded to a mesmerising John Turturro "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" as the slimy, double-crossing bookie, Bernie. The harrowing scene in which Tom leads Bernie into the woods at Miller's Crossing to be "whacked," is a triumph of astonishing film-making and acting.It is unfortunate that "Miller's Crossing" is an often-overlooked Coen brothers film, especially as I consider it their finest film to date. Brilliantly evoking time and place, and bustling with style and substance and everything else we've come to expect in our films, here is a gem that deserves to be seen and appreciated by more people. It's only fair. "I'm talking' about friendship. I'm talking' about character. I'm talking' about hell. I ain't embarrassed to use the word - I'm talking' about ethics!"
The answer my friend is a hat blowing in the wind. (by Spikeopath)
The Coen brothers craft a loving homage to gangster pictures of yore with splendid results. Essentially the plot has Gabriel Byrne as a good - bad guy caught between two rival gangster factions. It's a standard story line that is still providing cinematic water for many a film maker these days, but shot through the Coen prism, with literary astuteness holding court, it's a genre piece of considerable class. A picture in fact that gets better and better with further viewings.When the Coen's are on form they have the skills to make a grade "A" thriller and blend it with a <more>
sort of dry irony. It's like they bite the hand that feeds whilst praising said genre influences to the rafters, but it works as damn fine entertainment. On a narrative level Miller's Crossing molds the Byzantine with the labyrinthine, keeping the complexities just on the right side of the street from that of art for arts sake.Visually the film is superb, the hard working sweat of the city dovetails impudently with the mother nature beauty of Miller's Crossing the place, a place home to misery, a witness to the dark side of man. All the while Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro and Jon Polito bring an array of characterisations to the party, each one his own man but each craftily proving the folly of man. Marcia Gay Harden, in one of her first mainstream roles, slinks about making the two main boys sweaty, and wonderful she is as well. While Carter Burwell provides a musical score that has a smug in a good way self awareness about it.Style over substance? Yes, on formative viewings it is. But go back, look again, see and sample what is not being said. Pulpers and noirers will I'm sure get the gist. 8/10
A Wordy Take on Organized Crime (by HardKnockLife210)
Films about crime always seem to get special attention, thanks to the success of The Godfather. Many anxiously attend every new crime movie, hoping to see heartless characters slaughter each other in new and interesting ways. Yet somehow it's always intriguing to watch, and one seems to get caught up in the action, as the outer conflict becomes a clear picture of the protagonist's inner conflict.Miller's Crossing is an interesting take on the "crime" genre that sets up Gabriel Byrne as the protagonist, playing Tom Reagan, a man who seems to have a kind heart and is <more>
caught between opposing sides. The Coen Brothers display the interesting story in a peculiar way, a way far more interested in the dialogue of the characters than in the action on screen. If you're looking for action, you'll find a few, well-shot scenes, but those scenes are far from being the focus of the film, which puts Miller's Crossing in a class along with some of the more developed films about organized crime.Another aspect that puts Miller's Crossing in this class is the superb acting. As previously mentioned, Byrne puts in an excellent performance as Reagan, but supporting him are an excellent Albert Finney as Leo, and John Turturro puts in one of his best performances as Bernie. Sadly, none of the performances won a single nomination from the Oscars. Furthermore, the film is very well-shot and displays its mood well via Barry Sonnenfeld's cinematography and Carter Burwell's short theme.However, the screenplay of the film should've been improved upon, as the dialogue of the film is its focus. The dialogue is so caught up in descriptions and locations that it forgets to characterize anyone. Also, it manages to confuse the viewer, who has to view the film multiple times in order to understand which character is which, and how each character relates to the story as a whole.Overall, however, this film is worth a watch, especially if the viewer has time for multiple viewings. Try to pay close attention to the dialogue for better understanding.Overall Grade: A-.