Miller's Crossing

Synopsis: When the Italian Mafia threatens to kill a crooked bookie (John Turturro), Irish mob boss Leo O'Bannon (Albert Finney) refuses to allow it, chiefly because he's dating the bookie's sister, crafty gun moll Verna Bernbaum (Marcia Gay Harden). Leo's right-hand man, Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne), is also seeing Verna on the sly, and when he's found out is obliged to switch sides, going to work for the Italian mob amidst a dramatically escalating gang war over liquor distribution.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Production: 20th Century Fox
  4 wins & 15 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.8
Metacritic:
66
Rotten Tomatoes:
91%
R
Year:
1990
115 min
788 Views


. FADE IN:

CLOSE SHOT A WHISKEY TUMBLER

That sits on an oak side bar under a glowing green bankers

lamp, as two ice cubes are dropped in. From elsewhere in

the room:

Man (off)

I'm talkin' about friendship. I'm talkin' about

character. I'm talkin' about--hell, Leo, I ain't

embarassed to use the word--I'm talkin' about

ethics.

Whiskey is poured into the tumbler, filling it almost to

the rim, as the offscreen man continues.

. . . You know I'm a sporting man. I like to

make the occasional bet. But I ain't that

sporting.

THE SPEAKER:

A balding middle-aged man with a round, open face. He

still wears his overcoat and sits in a leather chair in the

dark room, illuminated by the offscreen glow of a desk

lamp. This is Johnny Caspar.

Behind him stands another man, harder looking, wearing an

overcoat and hat and holding another hat--presumably

Caspar's. This is Bluepoiont Vance.

Caspar (cont'd)

When I fix a fight, say--if I pay a three-to-one

favorite to throw a goddamn fight--I figure I got

a right to expect that fight to go off at three-

to-one. But every time I lay a bet with this

sonofabitch Bernie Bernheim, before I know it the

odds is even up--or worse, I'm betting the short

money. . .

Behind Caspar we hear the clink of ice in the tumbler and a

figure emerges from the shadows, walking away from the

glowing bar in the backgound.

. . . The sheeny knows I like sure things. He's

selling the information I fixed the fight. Out-

of-town money comes pourin' in. The odds go

straight to hell. I don't know who he's sellin'

it to, maybe the Los Angeles combine, I don't

know. The point is, Bernie ain't satisfied with

the honest dollar he can make off the vig. He

ain't satisfied with the business I do on his

book. He's sellin' tips on how I bet, and that

means part of the payoff that should be ridin' on

my hip is ridin' on someone else's. So back we

go to these questions--friendship, character,

ethics.

The man with the whiskey glass has just passed the camera

and we cut to the:

REVERSE:

Another well dressed, middle aged man, behind a large

polished oak desk, listening intently. This is Leo. He is

short but powerfully built, with the face of a man who has

seen things.

The man with the whiskey enters frame and passes Leo to

lean against the wall behind him, where he listens quietly.

Caspar

. . . So its clear what I'm sayin'?

Leo

Clear as mud.

Caspar purses his lips but continues unfazed.

Caspar

It's a wrong situation. It's gettin' so a

businessman can't expect no return from a fixed

fight. Now if you can't trust a fix, what can

you trust? For a good return you gotta go

bettin' on chance, and then you're back with

anarchy. Right back inna jungle. On account of

the breakdown of ethics. That's why ethics is

important. It's the grease makes us get along,

what separates us from the animals, beasts a

burden, beasts a prey. Ethics. Whereas Bernie

Bernheim is a horse of a different color ethics-

wise. As in, he ain't got any. He's stealin'

from me plain and simple.

Leo leans back in his chair.

The man behind Leo raises the whiskey glass to his lips.

He is trimmer and younger than Leo, perhaps in his thir-

ties, dark-complected, with a pencil mustache and a gaunt

intensity that is not entirely healthy-looking. This is

Tom.

As he drinks, he studies Caspar and Bluepoint.

Leo

You sure it's Bernie, selling you out?

For the first time the man behind Caspar speaks:

Bluepoint

It ain't elves.

Leo

Nobody else knows about the fix?

Caspar

No one that ain't got ethics.

Leo

What about the fighters you pay to tank out?

Bluepoint

We only pick fighters we can put the fear of God

in.

Leo

Any other bookies know? You play anyone else's

book?

Caspar

I lay an occasional bet with Mink Larouie.

Bluepoint

But it ain't Mink, I'll vouch for that.

Leo

How do you know?

Caspar shakes his head.

Caspar

It ain't Mink. Mink is Bluepoint's boy.

Leo

Mm. And of course, Bluepoint always knows about

the fix.

Bluepoint

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Leo

Let it drift. All it means is a lot of people

know.

Caspar

I guess you ain't been listening. Sure other

people know. That's why we gotta go to this

question of character, determine just who exactly

is chiseling in an my fix. And that's how we

know it's Bernie Bernheim. The Motzah Kid.

'Cause ethically, he's kinda shaky.

Rate this script:5.0 / 2 votes

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