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The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

Trailer
2:01 | Trailer
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.

Director:

John Cassavetes

Writer:

John Cassavetes

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Gazzara ... Cosmo Vittelli
Timothy Carey ... Flo (as Timothy Agoglia Carey)
Seymour Cassel ... Mort Weil
Robert Phillips ... Phil
Morgan Woodward ... The Boss
John Kullers John Kullers ... The Accountant (as John Red Kullers)
Al Ruban Al Ruban ... Marty Reitz
Azizi Johari Azizi Johari ... Rachel
Virginia Carrington Virginia Carrington ... Mama
Meade Roberts Meade Roberts ... Mr. Sophistication
Alice Friedland Alice Friedland ... Sherry
Donna Gordon Donna Gordon ... Margo Donnar (as Donna Marie Gordon)
Haji ... Haji
Carol Warren Carol Warren ... Carol
Derna Wong Davis Derna Wong Davis ... Derna
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Storyline

Cosmo Vitelli owns the Crazy Horse West, a strip joint in Los Angeles. He's laconic, vet, and a gambler. When we meet him, he's making his last payment on a gambling debt, after which, he promptly loses $23,000 playing poker. The guys he owes this time aren't so friendly, pressuring him for immediate payment. When he's not able to do so, they suggest he kill a Chinese bookie to wipe away his 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. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A film by John Cassavetes.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 February 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,406
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Faces Distribution See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1978 Re-Release)

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Todd-AO)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #254. See more »

Quotes

Flo: That jerk Karl Marx said opium was the... religion of people. I got news for him, it's money.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original version runs 135 minutes. Two years after the release director John Cassavetes prepared a different theatrical cut with a running time of 108 minutes, both adding and removing scenes resulting in a different film. See more »

Connections

References Jaws (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Rainy Fields of Frost and Magic
(uncredited)
Written by Bo Harwood
Played during the audition
See more »

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User Reviews

John Cassavetes: a fearless filmmaker
22 August 2003 | by terry_caulfieldSee all my reviews

John Cassavetes is widely regarded as being the father of American independent film. Using his fees as an actor in films such as "The Killers" (1964) and "Rosemary's Baby" (1968, he funded his own films away from the interference of Hollywood. In this film, Ben Gazzara plays Cosmo Vitelli, a nightclub owner who lives way beyond his means and manages to get into a massive gambling debt with the mob. This leads to the gangsters putting heavy pressure on Cosmo to perform a hit for them in order that he pays back the debt. The film deals with Cosmo's attempts to extricate himself from these proceedings whilst still keeping his integrity, not to mention his life intact.

The film can be seen as having parables with Cassavetes own dealings with Hollywood studios and his attempts, not unlike those of the films protagonist to keep his integrity and his artistic vision intact. The film is a classic example of 70's American cinema when the old studio system had collapsed and filmmakers had the freedom to make whatever films they liked no matter how personal or non commercial they might seem. This is a truly great film.


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