The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
December 9, 2019 8:10 AM - Subscribe

A proud strip club owner is forced to come to terms with himself as a man, when his gambling addiction gets him in hot water with the mob, who offer him only one alternative.

Cassavetes foray into genre filmmaking (based on an idea developed with Martin Scorsese) was a flop, and pulled from distribution after a week. A later cut shaved off 27 minutes. Both versions are available in the Criterion collection.

From the film’s Criterion essay:
The story obeys the step-by-step fatalism of an unfolding nightmare, whereby small mistakes and temptations lead to deeper consequences, such as can be found in classic film noirs with Edward G. Robinson, Glenn Ford, and Jean Gabin. Looked at purely as narrative, there is surprisingly little waste in the script: each scene advances and intensifies the central dramatic situation. Cassavetes even fulfills the genre contract with action sequences (rare for him) that involve shootings, chases, and sinister, underlit garages, perhaps drawing on his own experience as an actor in crime movies. On the other hand, the film’s enduring power comes across most in subtle details of setting and character that play against, or in inertial counterpoint to, these obligatory propulsive scenes.
Rotten Tomatoes 79/83

IMDB link
posted by chappell, ambrose (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is actually one of my favorite of Cassavetes. The strip club owner has this view of his place as being art and is weirdly sincere. His obsession with the quality of his shows—especially when he’s checking on them from a payphone in the middle of everything—really makes it. It’s great to see what Cassavetes does in the genre that’s outside of his usual beat. The Criterion edition has some nice extras as I recall. Thanks for posting this!
posted by mrcrow at 10:21 AM on December 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Watching this movie I really thought about the lead poisoning theory.

It's funny that Cosmo is a pretty bad club manager, a pure bumbling sleazebag, but then turns out to be a good killer.

Except maybe for the part where he calls the club from the same payphone he calls for the taxi.
posted by fleacircus at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2021

Oh and Ben Gazzara does a really good job, his face carries the whole movie pretty easily.
posted by fleacircus at 7:15 AM on August 3, 2021

I like so much about this movie, but I wish it wasn't so dark in some scenes. I get it, but man, does it sometimes detract form my ability to engage with the movie.
posted by Carillon at 11:36 PM on January 15

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