Review – Miller’s Crossing


For the 13th day of the Alphabet Challenge ( we’re off to ‘M’ and more specifically ‘Miller’s Crossing’, the second film by the Coen brothers in the challenge so far.

The film is very much in the tradition of film noir. It’s the 1930’s and our anti-hero is Irish Tom Reagan (played by Gabriel Byrne). Reagon works for a local gangster (Leo O’Bannon – Albert Finney).

Reagan has both a gambling problem and somewhat of a drinking problem as well. If this wasn’t enough, he is also having an affair with O Bannon’s girl – Verna (Marcia Gay Harden) – behind his back.

The story begins with O Bannon deciding to protect Verna’s brother Bernie (John Turturo) placing his outfit at war with rival Johnny Caspar (much against Reagan’s counsel).


What follows is a very well constructed thriller as characters turn on one another, double crossing, and killing. The film follows Reagan as he attempts to weave his way through the story playing the two sides off against each other.

The film includes performances from a number of Coen regulars including Turturo, Steve Buscemi and of course Frances McDormand (who makes a brief appearance).

Its a classic modern noir tale and has taken on a classic status since its release in 1990. The script is a masterpiece of 30’s prohibition era dialect.

‘You ain’t got a license to kill bookies and today I ain’t sellin’ any. So take your flunky and dangle.’

One thing that continues to niggle me about the film (which has been the case since I first saw it in the mid 90’s) is the score, which always sounds (for example) more fitting to an upbeat tale of a college professor, than the gritty gangster story that this is.


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