'Miller's Crossing,' the Coens' Forgotten Gangster Epic, Turns 30

Is he the Dane's boy or not?

My introduction to Miller & # 39; s Crossing came during a class on the Coen brothers from Robert Ribera, professor at Portland State University. I was his teaching assistant when he was at Boston University, and he gave me the movie to watch to prepare for the course.

It was the only film by the Coen brothers that I had never seen … and it is the one that I remembered for as long as the better known ones like Fargo. It was different from other Mafia films but still had the balls to get an opening shot straight from The Godfather.

I consider this film to be one of the best gangster films of all time, a classic of the gangster genre.

The story is an amoral story … about morality in the criminal underworld of the 1930s. There are two rival gangs fighting for control of a city. The police are a farmer, and the busts of illegal drinking places are only one way for one gang to return to another.

It's also a dark comedy where none of the characters play with their stereotypes and everyone below the surface is up to something.

It features Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro and Marcia Gay Harden. And the camera was made by Barry Sonnenfeld.

Check out the trailer and let's chat below.

The film premiered in 1990 and lived in the shadow of Scorseses Goodfellas. Though the Coens came from Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, she failed to gain the notoriety she deserved at the time.

I'm not sure people knew what to do with the film. Even Roger Ebert (who gave him 3 stars) said: "This doesn't look like a gangster movie, but rather a commercial that is supposed to look like a gangster movie. Everything is designed too. This also applies to the plot and the dialogue. The dialogue is well-written, but it is actually written. We admire the prose rather than the message. People make threats, and we think about how elegantly the threats are worded.""

The cast really carried this film on, with Finney and Byrne using all of their talents to draw you into the world.

Although this film was not laden with the set pieces of other gangster films, it used the great moments that one could never forget.

In his article about the film for The Guardian, Scott Tobias called the film "a film full of question marks".

The biggest question mark in the middle is the idea of ​​love triangles.

It seems like every character is involved in some sort of illegal tryst, with the central one being the gay love triangle between The Dane, Mink and Bernie. This is incredibly advanced for the time. The Dane isn't your classic portrayal of a gay character, but his relationship with Mink is openly discussed between the characters.

The euphemisms could go over our heads. They definitely went over mine when you first viewed them. But they are there to be cherished on subsequent viewing.

There is also the obvious love triangle between Leo, Verna and Tom.

These dueling triangles allow twists, turns, betrayals and backstrokes.

There is also this enigmatic hat that blows in the wind.

It was this image that led the Coens to write this film. It is based on the idea of ​​the "incongruence of urban gangsters in a forest environment".

Steve Buscemi has appeared in six Coen films, but this one was his first, and his role as Mink starts the whole story. They said they cast him because he could speak faster than anyone who auditioned.

The first in this film was another Coen brother's first Turturros casting.

In retrospect, it's a miracle that this film was made. Not only because of the slow handling of the story, but also because the Coens were originally offered the job of directing Batman and turned down to focus on original ideas.

That choice is admirable today and almost unthinkable.

At the end of the day, Miller & # 39; s Crossing is proof that you believe in yourself, rely on your actors and chase your muse through the woods like a hat.

Have you seen this gem of a movie? Let me know your favorite parts in the comments.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here