Release Date: September 21, 1990
Genre: Crime/Romantic Drama
Runtime: Approx. 115 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Joel Coen
Producer: Ethan Coen
Writer: Joel & Ethan Coen
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Leo, who has fallen for Bernie's sister, Verna, refuses to rub out Bernie, which puts him at odds with Tom, his own right-hand man, not to mention the awkwardness caused by Tom's on-the-sly romance with Verna. Much hard-to-follow dialogue and characters ensue, but by film's mid-point, a bloody gangland war erupts.
Tom confides to Leo that he has slept with Verna. Leo assaults Tom, and they separate. Going over to Johnny's side, Tom is ordered to take Bernie out to Miller's Crossing and murder him, which he deceives the others into thinking he's done. When Johnny's thugs come looking in the woods to check on Tom's deed, much to Tom's surprise they find an unrecognizable corpse. Tom's life is spared.
A couple of double-crosses, frame-ups and vicious assassinations later, the movie none-too-soon comes to an end. What a relief. MILLER'S CROSSING has nothing positive to offer. It tries, through the music, to create reflective moments of why men do the things they do, but to set machine-gun fire to opera is hardly creative.
Nor does the film's brand of wisdom fare much better: "Always put one in the brain," says Johnny, meaning a bullet, as he explains his method of rising to the top. What a tragedy that these pathetic characters turn either to alcohol or violence to solve their problems instead of turning to Jesus Christ. It is a tragedy because of what Psalm 11:5 says, "The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates."
The police, who are portrayed as corrupt as is the city mayor, also commit cold-blooded murder. In fact, the mob bosses are in control of the city, with bookmaking, bribery, and blackmail the order of the day. Even incest is implied between Verna and her homosexual brother, Bernie. Approximately fifty profanities and obscenities accompany the action, and, if you haven't guessed, you need to write a letter of complaint to 20th Century Fox (who won't let us screen their films, because we give you Mr. Diller's address and he doesn't accept responsibility for their content).
Film is set to open the 1990 New York Film Festival. Frankly, they shouldn't bother.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please address your comments to:
Mr. Barry Diller
20th Century Fox
P.O. Box 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90213