Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - K

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie Movie Review

cassavetes vitelli john gazzara

How does a single act of violence, executed on a grand scale, fit into the fabric of people's lives, why does it happen, and what sort of person commits such an act? These are some of the questions explored in John Cassavetes’ 1976 film, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. The main source of Cosmo Vitelli's validation is his strip club, the “Crazy Horse West.” When faced with the loss of his club, Vitelli realizes that the value of his life can not be regained with the same slow measures he used to build it. After incurring an enormous gambling debt, he freely chooses to pay back his losses by killing a man he never met. Cassavetes tells his story in a deliberate, leisurely style, carefully selecting his cast so that each moment rings true. Ben Gazzara makes every one of Vitelli's moves seem as if he were contemplating their expense to him. Virginia Carrington, a real-life waitress at the Hamburger Hamlet discovered by Cassavetes in 1973, delivers another excellent performance. Murder in this film is simply a price tag, a disturbing concept, but one that Cassavetes reveals with brilliant distinction.

1976 (R) 109m/C Ben Gazzara, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Zizi Johari, Soto Joe Hugh, Robert Phillips, Timothy Carey, Morgan Woodward, Virginia Carrington; D: John Cassavetes; W: John Cassavetes; C: Frederick Elmes. VHS, Closed Caption, DVD

The Killing of Sister George Movie Review [next] [back] The Killing Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or