Small-time hood Nicky (Cassavetes) gets in trouble for stealing from his mob bosses. He calls Mikey (Falk), his lifelong friend. Throughout the cold Philadelphia night, Nicky tries to lay low, thinking hell get bumped off by the mob. Mikey reassures him all the while that hell be fine, not telling Nicky that he knows all about the hit set out on Nicky.
The film was filmed in 1973 but due to Executive Meddling wasnt released until 1976.
This film demonstrates the following tropes:
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Nickys wife (who hes separated from) refuses him entrance to her apartment, telling him to go away. Eventually, through his usual charm (and that fact that she's still in love with him), she falls for his line of still loving her and being true to her. Mind, he just came from banging his mistress.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Both Nicky and Mikey are dressed in tailored suits characteristic of mafia goons.
- Downer Ending: Nicky gets shot. In front of Mikeys house, no less.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Stealing from the mob always means death.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: It has its moments for both Nicky and Mikey, but as we see the mob bureaucracy play out, Mikeys not happy when he has to be killed.
- Dramatic Irony: The audience knows that Nicky is going to die, but the question is when.
- Extremely Short Timespan: The film takes place over the course of about 12 hours.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Mikey almost kills a drug store attendant for not giving him cream quickly enough.
- Jerkass: Nicky is an ass to everyone. Even to his best friend, Mikey, of thirty-some odd years.
- The Mafia: Mikey has to meet with the boss to explain why they couldn't pull off the hit that night.
- Pet the Dog: The only positive light (and its only a chink) we see Nicky in is when he visits his five-month old daughter. But on that night, hes annoyed that she wont hold his finger.
- Professional Killer: Kinney (Ned Beatty), who's arrived in town to kill Nicky and finds himself in a cat-and-mouse chase.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Impulsive Nicky is the Red Oni, cool-headed Mikey is the Blue Oni.
- Smug Snake: Nicky to a T. He doesnt treat anyone well even Mikey falls for Nickys smooth-talking ways.
- Tragic Bromance: The story is all about Mikey spending one last night with Nicky, knowing that Nicky won't be around much longer.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Nicky and Mikey. Nicky doesnt care about anyone elses feelings, and that includes Mickey, his best friend for over 30 years.