The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

John Cassavetes takes a contemporary film noir turn (which he would return to in Gloria) after exploring domestic melodrama in A Woman Under the Influence with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Ben Gazzara plays Cosmo Vitelli, the owner of a… More

Directed By:
Rated: R
Running Time:
Genre: Drama
Release Date: February 15, 1976
DVD Release Date: April 6, 1999
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Critic Score: 77% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Jay Cocks
TIME Magazine

When Cassavetes is really cooking, even the moments that are awkward and forced can become electric.

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Melissa Anderson
Time Out

It's rather like a shaggy dog story operating inside a chase movie. Chinese Bookie is the more insouciant, involuted and unfathomable of the two; the curdled charm of Gazzara's lopsided grin has never been more to the point.

Matt Brunson
Creative Loafing

This was Cassavetes' attempt to make a film with more commercial elements, but the melding of a conventional narrative with his own abstract musings doesn't completely work.

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Richard Brody
New Yorker

John Cassavetes, who made much of his money performing in action films, put that experience to work as the director of this hard, brooding crime drama

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Vincent Canby
New York Times

Watching the film is like listening to someone use a lot of impressive words, the meanings of which are just wrong enough to keep you in a state of total confusion, but occasionally right enough to hold your attention. What is he trying to say?

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Empire Magazine

With a heavily improvised script Cassavetes gets the most from his actors, each giving emotive performances.

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Variety Staff

There's no cinematography credit, which suggests Cassavetes either added that hat to his writer-director wardrobe, or the real culprit left town ahead of the posse.

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Keith Phipps
AV Club

Gazzara plays a strip-club owner committed to staging sad, unsexy, decidedly personal semi-nude musical revues.

Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid

This is my favorite John Cassavetes movie, perhaps because it's the most appealingly sleazy.

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Flixster Audience Score: 83% Flixster User Reviews
Pierluigi Puccini
An offbeat but unique take on the noir genre keys that might seem to go nowhere most of the time and yet brings some freshness and bravado.
Tim Sigur
Gazzara in a tuxedo the whole time, I'll watch that any day of the fucking week.
Graham Jones
Gazzara is amazing. But the real star is Cassavete's direction. The way this film slowly transforms is amazing.
Michael Gildea
Such an awesome movie. It's more a work of art than a movie.
Devon Bott
Cosmo Vitelli is the owner of a strip club on the sunset strip in Los Angeles, and his business is slow. He's an ex-New Yorker who's re-located to… More
Walter M.
[font=Century Gothic]In "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie," Cosmo Vitelli(Ben Gazzara) is the owner of the Crazy Horse West, modeled after the… More