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Killing of a Chinese Bookie, The (2d-Criterion)

Director(s): John Cassavetes

Theatrical Release: 1976 / 197

Cast: Ben Gazzara, Timothy Carey, Azizi Johari, Seymour Cassel, Meade Roberts, Alice Friedland

Genre(s): Drama, crime, Criterion Collection, Dean's List

Countries: USA


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Running Time: 108m. / 135m.

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 sleazy Los Angeles strip joint, who loses $20,000 at a mob gambling club owned by a small time gangster (Seymour Cassel). Since Cosmo doesn't have the $20,000, he is forced to murder a Chinese bookie in order to clear his debt to the mob. What Cosmo doesn't know is he's part of a set-up. The bookie is actually a West Coast mob boss protected around the clock by bodyguards. The mobsters figure that Cosmo will be killed in an impossible hit and they can take over his nightclub. But Cosmo proves luckier than the mobsters think — he manages to kill his target, and now the mobsters have to track down Cosmo and kill him. Initially, at 133 minutes, the movie was subsequently re-edited by Cassavetes to 109 minutes. — Paul Brenner (allmovie.com)

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Criterion Collection 2-DVD Set #254 Features:

+ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is presented in their original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are normal for this format. This new high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm color reversal internegative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System. The soundtrack was mastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic audio track, and audio restoration tools were used to reduce clicks, pops, hiss, and crackle.

Disc 1: The 1976 Cut

+ New high-definition digital transfer of John Cassavetes’ original 135-minute edit of the film, with restored image and sound, and enhanced for widescreen televisions

+ English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

+ Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

Disc 2: The 1978 Cut

+ New high-definition digital transfer of Cassavetes’ 108-minute edit from the 1978 theatrical re-release, with restored image and sound, and enhanced for widescreen televisions

+ New video interviews with star Ben Gazzara and producer Al Ruban

+ Audio interview with Cassavetes by film historians Michel Ciment and Michael Wilson conducted after the film’s release

+ Stills gallery featuring rare behind-the-scenes production photos

+ English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

+ Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
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