"Intimidating helpless women is part of my job." -- TOM (Gabriel Byrne) to Verna in a women's room "Then why don't you find one and intimidate her."
- VERNA (Marcia Gay Harden)
Rolling Stone - 10/04/1990
"...Spare, resonant and astonishingly beautiful....A jewel of a gangster film..."
Sight and Sound - 09/01/1990
"...MILLER'S CROSSING assumes a precision of correspondence between content and form which is all to rare in the cinema today..."
USA Today - 09/21/1990
"...The film is a primer in screen virtuosity....Both film and actors somehow manage to seem realistic and stylized at the same time..." -- 4 out of 4 stars
Film Comment - 01/01/1991
"...MILLER'S CROSSING is a stately and respectful genre treatise....Joel and Ethan Coen are meticulous filmmakers....It's filled with a great deal of beauty, skill, and a kind of ironic truth..."
Los Angeles Times - 10/19/1990
"...[An] elegiac, stylish gangster movie....It has somber, poetic images and an especially fine musical score that braids its Irish themes together hauntingly..."
Total Film - 11/01/2003
"...This is the most elegant, most forceful and -- arguably -- simply the best film the Coen brothers have yet produced..."
Entertainment Weekly - 09/02/2011
"[A] deliriously twisty homage to hard-boiled '40s gangster flicks....If you haven't seen it, do so, stat! It's a masterpiece." -- Grade: A
An Irish gangster (Albert Finney) and his trusted lieutenant (Gabriel Byrne) and counselor find their domination of the town threatened by an ambitious Italian underboss (Jon Polito). Just as this threat erupts, the two sever their friendship when they realize that they love the same woman (Marcia Gay Harden). When one joins ranks with the enemy, a bloody gang war erupts. Violent and compelling work from the Coen brothers.
In 1929, Tom Reagan is the intellectual right-hand man to Leo, one of the city's political bosses. Leo is being harassed by gangster Johnny Caspar to kill Bernie Bernbaum, who is cutting into his action, but Leo refuses because of his love for Bernie's sister, Verna. Unfortunately, Tom is also in love with Verna, and the feelings that both men have for her will lead to a gang war that threatens to destroy them all.
The Coens' initial concept for "Miller's Crossing" was "Big guys in overcoats in the woods -- the incongruity of urban gangsters in a forest setting."
Star Gabriel Byrne said of his role, "All through the picture, Tom is battling with the idea of love and the idea of giving himself to another person. The turning point for Tom is at Miller's Crossing -- Bernie gets through to his heart and he lets go. From then on everything goes haywire, and he determines never again to be ruled by his heart." Byrne was married to actress Ellen Barkin, whom he worked with on "Siesta," at the time this film was made.
John Turturro describes his character's role in the film, "In a way, it's like 'Dr. Faustus,' but in the Dashiell Hammett vernacular. I'm kind of a devilish character, and I'm sort of like a phantom, appearing and disappearing. And all my scenes are through Tom, so I really exist through him... Bernie's very quick-thinking. He's much more verbal and intellectual; he's dangerous, but more with his mind and his mouth." Turturro also appeared in two Spike Lee movies, "Do the Right Thing" and "Mo' Better Blues," and starred in the Coens' next film "Barton Fink" (1991). He also appeared as a cop in another of 1990's many gangster films, Phil Joanou's "State of Grace." In 1993, he directed his first film "Mac."
Actor Trey Wilson was originally intended for the role of Leo, but he died in New York on January 16, 1989.
Cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld, who also did the Coens' two previous films "Blood Simple" and "Raising Arizona," made his directorial debut with "The Addams Family."
Director Sam Raimi makes an appearance in "Miller's Crossing." Joel Coen worked on Raimi's film "Evil Dead."
Frances McDormand, who starred in "Blood Simple," has an unbilled cameo.
Film debut for stage actress Marcia Gay Harden.
Vintage automobiles provided by the New Orleans "A's" Club.
Estimated budget $14 million.
Shot in New Orleans, Louisiana in Panavision. Color by DuArt. Filming began January 27, 1989.
Opening film at the 1990 New York Film Festival. Screened at 1990 London Film Festival.
Released in New York City September 22, 1990 and Los Angeles and Toronto October 5, 1990; wider release October 19, 1990.
Released on video April 4, 1991.
Rated BBFC 18 by the British Board of Film Classification.