Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Miller’s Crossing (1990)
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Joel Coen
  • Cast: Gabriel Byrne, John Turturro, Albert Finney, Marcia Gay Harden, Steve Buscemi


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.

One comment

  • This DVD was lent to me some time ago and I decided it’s time to get it returned… but I thought I’d better watch it first! I quite like the Coens’ work, but this is one that has escaped me thus far, hence the borrowing of said DVD. It’s very definitely a Coen brothers script with some excellent dialogue and plenty of plot twists. I’ll give you my thoughts later, but here’s a brief summary first (summary haters and those that don’t wish to know anything about the plot please take that guy out into the woods & deal with him while I write the next paragraph).

    Tom Reagan is adviser to Leo, the mob boss who runs things around here. Rival boss, Johnny Caspar wants Leo to give him permission to have Bernie Bernbaum killed because he’s making problems for his gambling syndicate. Now Bernie’s sister, Verna is seeing Leo and so Leo is reluctant to upset the apple cart (if you know what I mean). Also, Verna is seeing Tom on the side and if Leo ever found out about that there was gonna be some big trouble for him. Add to this the fact that, Tom is also a bit of a gambler and has run up quite a debt, but insists on paying it off without any help. So, one day Casper makes Tom an offer and, as you can probably guess, this is where all the fun starts… I hope you understand that lot! I’m gonna leave it there so as not to enrage the spoiler police too much.

    As I said at the beginning, this film has a truly excellent script with some great dialogue and clever plot twists. It’s a very well made film with a very appropriate soundtrack (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve seen it). All the main cast put in very good performances; Gabriel Byrne as Tom Regan, Marcia Gay Harden as Verna, John Turturro as Bernie Bernbaum, Jon Polito I particularly liked as Johnny Caspar, Albert Finney as Leo and it was nice to see a cameo for Steve Buscemi as Mink.

    Although it has a great script, I found it didn’t grab my attention the way other Coen brothers films have. Or maybe films have been made since that do what this does, but better. I don’t quite know what it is, but this one seems to lack the punch that other Coen brothers films have. I felt that, although he is very good, Gabriel Byrne seems very subdued all the way through and this appears out of character for someone in his position. But aside from that, it’s well worth seeing… Recommended (if only for Albert Finney wielding a Thompson Machine Gun to great effect).

    My score: 7.5/10

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