[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/millers_crossing_still_1317.jpg]]

-->That's you all over, Tom. A lie and [[HarsherInHindsight no heart]].
-->--'''Verna'''

''Miller's Crossing'' is a 1990 [[BlackComedy darkly comic]] [[FilmNoir neo-noir]] gangster film loosely based on Creator/DashiellHammett's ''The Glass Key''. It is directed by [[Creator/TheCoenBrothers Joel and Ethan Coen]] and starring Creator/GabrielByrne, Creator/AlbertFinney, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro, Jon Polito, and J.E. Freeman.

Set in [[TheGreatDepression 1931]] in an [[WhereTheHellIsSpringfield unnamed Eastern metropolis]] , it's the story of Tom Reagan, TheDragon for Irish-American mob boss Liam "Leo" O'Bannon. When Leo falls for FemmeFatale Verna Bernbaum ([[LoveTriangle who happens to also be sleeping with Tom]]), he ends up protecting her beloved brother [[GaynGster Bernie]], setting off a mob war - with Tom caught right in the middle.

The film is something of a dark horse in the Coen Brothers oeuvre. Despite being a box-office failure at its release and lacking a [[TheBigLebowski massive cult following]] or any [[NoCountryForOldMen Academy]] [[{{Fargo}} Awards]], it remains one of the duo's most critically acclaimed pieces. It's often referred to as "the ''other'' [[{{Goodfellas}} great crime movie of 1990]]."
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!!This film contains examples of:

* AintTooProudToBeg: Bernie breaks down into primal sobs and pleads for his life. It's harrowingly pathetic. [[spoiler: It only works once for Bernie.]]
* TheAlcoholic: Tom
* AntiHero: Tom is an UnscrupulousHero for he is a criminal and a deadbeat gambler who sleeps with his boss's girlfriend and backstabs his way through the film. However, he really does care for both Leo and Verna. All his plotting is for their benefit.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: Leo.
* {{Badass}}:
** The Dane. He is more or less the strongest and most feared enforcer in the city, he wields a [[CoolGuns Cool Webley Mk VI]] and he absolutely beats the living manshit out of a ''professional prizefighter''.
** Tom, the protagonist, is a rather comical subversion. He repeatedly gets his ass kicked, and only commits one act of violence that actually accomplishes anything.
* BadassGrandpa:
** Leo. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAnD9P4ummA "The old man's still an artist with a Thompson."]]
** Tic-Tac. Moments after Tom has hit a GiantMook across the face with a chair, Tic Tac strides into the room and without pausing snatches the chair from Tom's hands, whereupon he and the GiantMook inflict a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown on Tom.
* BadassInANiceSuit
* BatmanGambit: Tom is a master at this.
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: Tom (played by the [[MrFanservice Gabriel Byrne]]) is a rare male example of this trope - no matter how many beatings he takes, he never gets anything worse than a split lip.
* BerserkButton: Johnny Casper is sick of "the high hat" and there's nothing he can't stand more than "a [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder double-cross]] [[ManipulativeBastard artist.]]"
* [[{{BFG}} BFG]]: During a shooting in the middle of the gang war, Casper's gang's already massive amount of fire power is topped off when they unveil a Browning M1917 machine gun.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:Tom succeeds in killing Leo's rivals, but winds up alienated from both Leo and Verna, who enter into a foolish marriage]].
* BlackComedy
* BoomHeadshot: TheMafia frequently mentions shooting a person "in the brain" [[spoiler: and it is how Mink, Bernie, and the Dane all die.]]
* BottomlessMagazines: Leo fires a few ''thousand'' rounds from a Tommy gun without reloading. RuleOfCool is in full effect there, since it takes about 5 seconds of continous fire to empty a Thompson machine gun
* BrotherSisterIncest: Bernie claims that Verna once tried to "cure" Bernie's homosexuality [[{{Squick}} herself]], though his word is less than trustworthy.
* BuryYourGays: [[spoiler:Bernie, the Dane, and Mink are all dead before the credits roll, although they're not the only casualties.]]
* TheCameo:
** In addition to the Creator/SamRaimi example below, frequent Coens collaborator (and wife of Joel) Frances [=McDormand=] appears as the Mayor's secretary.
* CatchPhrase: Tom's "I'll think about it", which he says whenever he has no intention of doing what's been asked of him. Casper is smart enough to realise this, and so has his thugs beat Tom up when he tries the line on him.
** "'Lo Tom. What's the rumpus ?"
* TheChessmaster: Tom.
* ChewingTheScenery: Jon Polito (Johnny Caspar) and John Turturro (Bernie Bernbaum) must have been picking scenery out of their teeth for weeks.
* {{Chiaroscuro}}: Used in many scenes. It ''is'' a FilmNoir, after all.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Most of the cast, but ''especially'' Bernie. Bernie even lampshades it: "I can't help it, somebody gives me an angle, I play it."
* TheConsigliere: Tom to Leo but then he becomes a TreacherousAdvisor to Johnny.
* CouldntFindALighter: Leo re-lights his cigar off a smoking tommygun after killing the would-be assassins who brought it.
* DeadpanSnarker: Tom and Verna, who engage in some classic noir reparte. Also Eddie, [[HypocriticalHumor who doesn't seem to like when others does it]].
* DeadMansTriggerFinger: A BlackComedy example, as Leo shoots a thug in the back with a Tommy gun and the thug shoots his own Tommy gun all over the place, including into his own feet.
* DeathByCameo: Creator/SamRaimi, the trigger-happy gangster with the GunsAkimbo
* DefiantToTheEnd: Aversion lampshaded by the Dane.
-->Ever noticed how the snappy talk dries up once a guy starts soiling his union suit?
* DelusionsOfEloquence: Johnny Caspar talks like this a lot.
* DepravedHomosexual: [[PlayingWithATrope Played around with quite a bit]], most likely due to the trope's frequency in FilmNoir. Two of the three main antagonists, [[SmugSnake Bernie]] and [[PsychoForHire Eddie Dane]], are gay. Depending on how you look at it, they could be considered straight examples or [[AvertedTrope aversions]] - Bernie's sexuality is never really connected with his villainy, while Eddie Dane is loyal to his employer and Mink. [[EvilVersusEvil Not to mention that the rest of the cast is also pretty villainous]], including [[VillainProtagonist the hero]].
* DidNotGetTheGirl: [[spoiler:Tom himself at the end. This is filmed as an {{Homage}} to ''Film/TheThirdMan''.]]
* DirtyCoward: Bernie Bernbaum
* TheDon: Leo for TheIrishMob and Johnny Casper for TheMafia
* TheDragon: Eddie Dane, to Johnny Caspar.
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: [[spoiler:Tom tells Verna about the dream he has of his hat blowing along a forest road (the opening title sequence). Verna interprets it by guessing the hat turns into a crown when Tom puts it on his own head, thinking Tom is planning for when he can take over from Leo. Tom rebukes that interpretation, finishing that in the dream he doesn't even chase after his hat as "there's nothing more foolish than a man chasing after his own hat." Played straight, however, by movie's end.]]
* FakeDefector
* FakingTheDead
* TheFarmerAndTheViper: Lampshaded by Bernie, who claims, while pleading for his life, that ripping people off is just "his nature". He demonstrates it when Tom spares him and Bernie immediately blackmails him for disobeying the order to kill him. [[spoiler:Subverted in that Tom [[FridgeBrilliance figured all along Bernie would do exactly that]], and twists the blackmail back on Bernie, forcing the next step in Tom's gambit.]]
* FemmeFatale: Verna, [[spoiler:subverted. While plenty of people die because of her, she's not directly responsible for any of them, even the one Tom blamed her for. She's the only person in the movie who genuinely doesn't want anyone to die, but her affair with Tom and her love for her brother get everyone else killed. She's a FemmeFatale despite her best efforts.]]
** Actually, this one is kind of double-subverted, in that the character who plays the FemmeFatale character type much more closely is [[spoiler:not even a woman...it's Verna's brother, Bernie (maybe an [[StealthPun alternate definition]] for [[GaynGster "femme"]])]]
* FilmNoir
* AFistfulOfRehashes: This picture is inspired chiefly by ''Literature/TheGlassKey'' and is about a gang war that starts when one boss puts a bookie (who the other boss had put a hit on) under his protection, with TheDragon to the first boss [[spoiler:(who, unusually for this trope, survives)]] PlayingBothSides.
* GambitPileup
* {{Gangsterland}}: A somewhat literal example in that the entire town consists of nothing but criminals.
* {{Gayngster}}: Bernie, the Dane, and Mink. J.E. Freeman, who plays the Dane, is gay himself. Interestingly, so is Jon Polito, who plays the straight (and ''married'') Johnny Caspar.
* {{Greed}}: Bernie's motivation for just about everything.
* GreedyJew: As mentioned above under Greed, Bernie is greedy and he is called Jewish slurs many times throughout the movie.
* GuileHero: Well, anti-hero at any rate. Tom may be brilliant, but he doesn't have much choice -- he's a [[NonActionGuy lousy fighter]].
* GunsAkimbo: Creator/SamRaimi in a cameo.
* HeManWomanHater: Eddie Dane
* HomoeroticSubtext: Tons on it. Notably, a lot of Tom and Leo's dialogue makes them sound like a couple, and the Tom/Verna/Leo LoveTriangle is arguably more about Tom and Verna competing for Leo's attention than Tom and Leo competing for Verna's. And then there's Bernie/Mink and Eddie Dane/Mink, but those are more text than {{Subtext}}.
* HypocriticalHumor:
** The local police chief affably chats up Tom both times. Once when his cops are helping the Irish mob take out members of the Italians, and again when the power shifts to the Italians and the cops take out the Irish mob instead.
** When Tom hits the GiantMook who's about to beat him up across the face with a chair, the latter says plaintively "Jesus, Tom!" like his feelings rather than his face have been hurt.
** Bernie tells Tom that Verna tried to sleep with him (see BrotherSisterIncest above) and calls her a "sick twist." Tom says she's always spoken highly of Bernie, and Bernie's response is "Well, you stick by your family."
* IdiotBall: Frankie and Tic-Tac are given orders to make sure Tom kills Bernie. So what do they do? They stand by the car and ''wait while Tom walks Bernie into the woods. '''[[SoundOnlyDeath Alone]].''''' This is later lampshaded by [[DangerouslyGenreSavvy the Dane]], who beats them both up for being stupid and goes to check for a body.
* JerkassHasAPoint: Tom is arguably a jerk towards everyone because of his bluntness; nevertheless, he is right about everything he warns Leo about and has to weasel himself out of the mess when Leo ignores him.
** Dane is a murderous psycho alright, but he is right about everything regarding Tom; [[spoiler: too bad he's always two steps behind.]]
** Bernie plays Tom out of murdering him and blackmails him just because Tom exposed himself by doing so, leaving Bernie little choice (according to him) but to seize such a saucy opportunity.
* KickTheDog: The movie's full of them. Leo delights in screwing with Johnny just because he can (he claims it's to protect Verna, but the sheer joy in his voice after says otherwise). Bernie does it when he [[spoiler: kills his boyfriend to cover his own death.]] The king of it all, though, is when [[spoiler: Johnny Caspar is killed right outside Tom's apartment. It's meaningless, since Leo can take care of the police.]]
* KickTheSonOfABitch: By the near end of the movie, [[spoiler: Tom, when he kills Bernie. At that point, Leo's solidly in power once more, and both Tom and Verna are safe, and Bernie no longer represents any threat to Tom.]] The reason it technically fits here instead of KickTheDog is because, [[spoiler: Tom's previously shown not to hold grudges with his bookie's muscle, and kills Bernie without a hint of passion, so it's not revenge. Tom kills Bernie simply because he doesn't like the little weasel. Of course, this backfires for him, unless he'd made peace with the fact he wasn't going to end up with Verna, because it's obvious at the end that she ''knows''.]]
* LargeHam: Johnny Caspar.
-->'''Caspar''': ''"Just like I tell all my boys...'''ALWAYS PUT ONE IN THE BRAAAAAAIIIINN!"'''''
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters
* LoanShark: Lazarre and his underlings are AffablyEvil ones. His stooges feel free to rough up the right-hand man of the city boss, but only a little bit, and not breaking anything. They know Tom personally, they're sorry about doing what needs to be done, and advise Tom to stop borrowing so much when he's already in debt.
* LoveMakesYouDumb:
** Leo.
** Also [[spoiler:Eddie Dane, who easily sees through Tom's manipulations until Mink's death sends him into a blind rage, letting Tom turn Caspar against the Dane.]]
* LoveTriangle: Tom/Verna/Leo and Bernie/Mink/Dane.
* MadeOfIron: Tom
* TheMafia and TheIrishMob: [[MobWar Dueling for supremacy]], as was TruthInTelevision at the time.
* ManipulativeBastard: Tom and Bernie. Tom may well be a full-fledged MagnificentBastard, considering the eventual outcome of his scheming.
* ModestyBedsheet
* MoodWhiplash: After the mostly comedic first half, the eponymous "Miller's Crossing" scene is pretty jarring.
* MoreDakka: During the siege of a BadGuyBar, dozens of cops and mobster all fire their pistols at the club and one of them even unveils a water-cooled Browning M1917 machine gun. Also Leo unloading his Thompson.
* MotorMouth: Mink
* NiceHat: The entire cast, to the point of being a reoccuring motif.
* PlayingBothSides: Tom schemes all the time to pull this off. Very similar or almost identical themes are seen in ''Film/{{Yojimbo}}'' and ''Film/AFistfulOfDollars'' since all these films are based on Dashiel Hammett works.
* PhraseCatcher: "Jesus, Tom!"
* PsychoForHire: Eddie Dane ''really'' enjoys his job.
--> ''I am gonna to send you to a deep, dark place, and I am gonna have '''fun'''...'''doing it!'''''
* RetiredBadass: Leo makes mincemeat out of a squad of hitmen, and still packs a mean right cross for an old guy.
* SceneryPorn: Inevitable, since it's a Coen Brothers film.
* ScreamsLikeALittleGirl: Bernie again. It's surprising he wasn't shot for it.
* ShaggyDogStory
* ShoutOut:
** Tom Reagan's name references Tom Hagen from ''Film/TheGodfather'' and Sean Regan from ''Film/TheBigSleep''.
** A newspaper headline seen briefly reads "Seven Dead in Hotel Fire". This is a reference to ''BartonFink'', which was released a year later than ''Miller's Crossing'' but written at the same time. Also, Tom's apartment is at the 'Barton Arms'.
** The opening scene is also something of a parodic parallel to the opening of the original ''Godfather'', where an Italian man gives a monologue to a mob boss, requesting a murder.
** Several nods to ''Film/TheThirdMan'', particularly the ending and many camera angles.
* ShovelStrike: [[spoiler: Johnny Casper]] viciously does this to [[spoiler: the Dane]] when he [[spoiler: is manipulatied into thinking that the Dane is a traitor]].
* SissyVillain: Bernie.
** Subverted by [[spoiler:Dane, who is implied to have a homosexual attraction to his employer]], but he is ''everything'' but.
* SlapSlapKiss: Tom and Verna.
* SmokingIsCool
* SmugSnake: Bernie Bernbaum isn't quite as clever as he thinks he is.
* SoundtrackDissonance:
** Leo guns down some mooks to a soulful rendition of "Danny Boy" that he's playing on the gramophone.
** More generally, Carter Burwell's delicate and emotional score contrasts sharply with the dark and cynical tone of the film.
* SpottingTheThread: Done by [[spoiler: The Dane]]: "I wondered, why would Einstein want to talk with a gorilla"
* StuffedIntoTheFridge: [[spoiler:Bernie's murder of Mink. Needless to say, Eddie Dane is very unhappy about this.]]
* SympathyForTheDevil: The scene from which the film gets its title.
* TapOnTheHead: Averted. When Tom is kicked in the head by one of Caspar's goons, the cop who wakes him up informs him that he's only been out for ten seconds or so.
* TheRoaringTwenties
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverKill: How many bullets did Leo unload into that ''one'' guy?
* TheyPlottedAPerfectlyGoodWaste: Some suspect the instances of tropes such as the aforementioned BeautyIsNeverTarnished are intentional throwbacks to the style and tropes of classic gangster flicks.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: Frankie and Tic-Tac, Johnny Caspar's two stooges.
* TheFarmerAndTheViper: Tom and Bernie, for a while.
* TooCleverByHalf: The Dane's evaluation of Tom. Zigzagged as Tom's schemes [[spoiler: are about to backfire on him, but this gets subverted by dumb luck thanks to a second body disposed in the woods.]]
-->'''The Dane''' You are so goddamn smart. Except you ain't!
* UndyingLoyalty: [[spoiler: Tom looks like he betrayed Leo - and in a way he was by sleeping with his favorite girl Verna - but the entire gambit Tom plays to end the gang war was to protect Leo all along. Played straight with The Dane, who was always in Caspar's corner, but Tom is able to play on Caspar's quick anger to get him to kill the Dane.]]
* VeryPunchableMan: Tom is a rare (maybe unique) ''main character'' variant. He commits two overt acts of violence in the movie (hitting a {{Mook}} with a chair and [[spoiler:killing Bernie]]). The rest of the time he's getting his ass kicked left and right -- often by [[MagnificentBastard design]].
* VomitIndiscretionShot
* VoteEarlyVoteOften
-->'''Leo:''' You know O'Doul and the Mayor, right?
-->'''Tom:''' I ought to, I voted for him six times last November.
-->'''Mayor:''' And that's not even the record.
* WhereTheHellIsSpringfield: It's set in an unnamed town, although it was filmed in [[TheBigEasy New Orleans]].
* WildCard: Tom
* XanatosSpeedChess and GambitRoulette: [[AlternateCharacterInterpretation We can't know for sure]] if ThePlan was set from the start or improvised along the way.
* YiddishAsASecondLanguage: Several characters refer to Bernie as "The Schmatta," a Yiddish word meaning "rag," as a way of demonstrating their contempt for him and his Jewishness
* YourCheatingHeart
* ZeroApprovalGambit: Tom pulls several:
** [[spoiler:He deliberately alienates himself from Leo (and takes quite a few beatings in the process) in order to eliminate Leo's competition and any threats to Verna while simultaneously providing himself an exit from his life of crime. This comes at the price of losing Verna to Leo.]]
** He [[spoiler:saves and (later) kills Bernie]] with full knowledge that these acts won't provide him any benefit whatsoever to anyone's eyes; still he proceeds out of principle and in both times it comes to bite him in the ass.
** Throughout the movie, Tom carries a gambling debt from Lazarre well aware that he will be eventually reached by his cronies. They do come to beat the crap out of him but they remind him that they'd rather not be hurting him because they (and Lazarre himself) actually like him.
** Curiously, the biggest gambits in the movie come from everyone who underestimates Tom. Even Dane falls victim to his machinations.
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