In the Great Coen Debates that occur among film fans, there's one that I never feel gets enough love: Miller's Crossing. It's probably my favorite next to The Big Lebowski. The film is deliciously dark and dreary (you can watch this in summer and still feel cold), but punctuated by that startling Coens humor. The dialogue and character quirks are not as exaggerated as they are in other Coen films, and when a character does get theatrical, it's appropriate to the setting. These are thugs who find themselves in positions of great wealth and power, after all, and they'll never know quite how to behave in the real world.

The film has a level of tension I don't think the Coens matched until No Country For Old Men. Tom's white-knuckle walk into Miller's Crossing is probably my favorite scene (actually, it's difficult to pick just one), but it doesn't appear to be on YouTube. So, here's another moment of violence that just doesn't go the way you think it will, and features the best use of Danny Boy in history. I really want to believe that the gramophone is a nod to Sean Connery's death scene in The Untouchables, but I suspect it's a noir standard that ushered many a mobster and cop into his grave.
categories Cinematical