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Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The (1976)

Original Title : Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The
Director : John Cassavetes
Writer : John Cassavetes
Genre : Drama
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Phil Burton , Al Ruban
Music : Bo Harwood
Photography : Mitch Breit
Al Ruban
Distributor : Faces Distributing Corporation
IMDB ID : 0074749
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poster for "Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The" by John Cassavetes (1976)
Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The (1976) - John Cassavetes
 

Starring

Ben Gazzara Cosmo Vitelli
Timothy Carey Flo (Gangster
Seymour Cassel Mort Weil (Gangster
 

Plot

Cosmo Vitelli owns the Crazy Horse West, a strip joint in California. He's laconic, a Korean War vet, and a gambler. When we meet him, he's making his last payment on a gambling debt. Then, he promptly loses $23,000 playing poker at an illegal local casino. The guys he owes this time aren't so friendly, pressuring him for immediate payment. Then they suggest that he kill a Chinese bookie to wipe off the debt. Vitelli and the film move back and forth between the double-crossing, murderous insincerity of the gamblers and the friendships, sweetness, and even love among Vitelli, the dancers, a dancer's mother, and the club's singer, Mr. Sophistication.
 

Comments

Strange and Satisfying Well, at least Cassavettes was never boring.How many directors can say that?This is the oddest of his films, a strange riff on gangster/noir pictures that starts at the end and takes us right back there.The night club manager, player by Gazzara, has just finished paying for his joint, as he would say.He goes out and loses some money gambling and finds that he has to kill someone in order to pay off his debt.A normal Hollywood film would make the owner an anti-hero, one to pity.This film just lets him be the slime he is.In one scene, he tries to tell a woman that his mother and father didn't love him.She tells him that she doesn't care and he should leave.That is, in some ways, the point.He doesn't have to be a louse and a loser, but he is.Ironically, he gives a speech later about choosing who we are and being comfortable, two things that he has failed at miserably.Like all of Cassavettes' losers, Gazzara is easy to hate.The painful part for the viewer is that we see the pain in their lives too.Most films, even great ones, leave you feeling one way or another about a character, but Cassavettes' films leave you stumped.I guess that that is great, but it is very odd and hard to understand.
 
poster for "Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The"
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Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The (1976) - John Cassavetes
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Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The (1976) - John Cassavetes
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