Miller's Crossing (1990)

A man pleads for his lifefrom his knees  among some trees as another man holds a gun at his side.
The Criterion Collection cover art for the 1990 Ethan and Joel Coen movie Miller's Crossing.
About the movie
  • Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro
  • Yes or no?: Yes
  • Links: on Letterboxd, IMDb page
Other reviews:

I was taken in by this movie. I think about 30 minutes in I stopped writing notes down because I didn’t want to stop the movie. A gangster noir with all the right characters, played exquisitely, with a pretty great wrap.

The characters and the acting. Those things not only stood out for me, but I think this ranks up there among the best I’ve seen in how perfectly each choice was. Albert Finney’s Leo O’Bannon is unreal. He absolutely commanded every shot he was in and was completely believable as a guy “running a city,” especially after that assassination attempt on his life. Holy smokes that was a response.

And that gets to it for me. The movie is just brilliant. The story really kicks ass and is a lot of fun to follow—as everything with the Coens has been for me. Then you get the few action sequences. They ramped it up to a different level of enjoyment. Finney’s pushback on the assassination attempt, the cops pulling out a literal mounted machine gun to take out the bar, and O’Bannon beating the shit out of Gabriel Byrne’s Tom Reagan in front of fancy party guests. Those scenes took it from a great movie to one that transcends others for me. It’s one of the best I’ve seen.

Some notes:

  • Jon Polito as Johnny Caspar is tremendous. Every touch. He’s a hothead that really hates being disrespected (working class guy who made it?), believes that there should be rules governing these gangsters—you know, ethics, and has a family that you can see he loves but is about to become supremely disappointed in, if he isn’t already. What a great performance this was
  • What can I say about John Turturro? He is always great, and he is no exception here. The scene where he is introduced had me mesmerized watching him. His groveling was real. The guy is going to go down as one of the best character guys in this era

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December 08, 2023
Tags: criterion collection
Categories: Reviews