John Cassavetes

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

John Cassavetes engages with film noir in his own inimitable style with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Ben Gazzara brilliantly portrays a gentleman’s club owner, Cosmo Vitelli, desperately committed to maintaining a facade of suave gentility despite the seediness of his environment and his own unhealthy appetites. When he runs afoul of loan sharks, Cosmo must carry out a terrible crime or lose his way of life. Mesmerizing and idiosyncratic, the film is a provocative examination of masculine identity. It is presented here in two versions: Cassavetes’s original 1976 edit and his 1978 one, nearly thirty minutes shorter.

Film Info

  • John Cassavetes
  • United States
  • 1976
  • 135 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.85:1
  • English
  • Spine #254

Special Features

  • New, high-definition digital restorations of the 1976 and 1978 versions of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interview program featuring actor Ben Gazzara and producer Al Ruban
  • Audio interview with Cassavetes from the 1970s
  • Stills gallery
  • Trailer

New cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang

Purchase Options

Collector's Sets

Collector's Set

John Cassavetes: Five Films

John Cassavetes: Five Films

Blu-Ray Box Set

5 Discs

Ships Nov 8, 2019

$99.96

Special Features

  • New, high-definition digital restorations of the 1976 and 1978 versions of the film, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interview program featuring actor Ben Gazzara and producer Al Ruban
  • Audio interview with Cassavetes from the 1970s
  • Stills gallery
  • Trailer

New cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Cast
Ben Gazzara
Cosmo Vitelli
Timothy Agoglia Carey
Flo
Seymour Cassel
Mort Weil
Robert Phillips
Phil
Morgan Woodward
The Boss
John Red Kullers
The Accountant
Al Ruban
Marty Reitz
Azizi Johari
Rachel
Virginia Carrington
Mama
Meade Roberts
Mr. Sophistication
Credits
Director
John Cassavetes
Writer
John Cassavetes
Producer
Al Ruban
Associate producer
Phil Burton
Sound/Music
Bo Harwood
In charge of lighting
Mitchell Breit
Camera operators
Frederick Elmes
Camera operators
Michael Ferris
Supervising editor
Tom Cornwell
In charge of postproduction
Robert Heffernan
Production design
Sam Shaw
Art director
Phedon Papamichael

From The Current

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie: The Raw and the Cooked
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie: The Raw and the Cooked
In John Cassavetes’s personal cinema, the director was always trying to break away from the formulas of Hollywood narrative, in order to uncover some fugitive truth about the way people behave. At the same time, he took seriously his responsibiliti…

By Phillip Lopate

Composing for Cassavetes
Composing for Cassavetes

In a new documentary on FilmStruck, composer and sound recordist Bo Harwood discusses his close collaboration with John Cassavetes and the music he composed for six of his films.

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John Cassavetes

Writer, Director

John Cassavetes
John Cassavetes

John Cassavetes’ emotionally naked human dramas are benchmarks of American independent cinema. Having started out in New York as an actor, Cassavetes brought to his directorial efforts the same kinetic, heightened realism that marked his film and theater roles—a wily danger, the sense that at any moment things could explode from the inside. Shadows (1959), the first film he directed, self-financed for a mere $40,000, didn’t find much of an audience upon its small initial release, but it garnered Cassavetes some notice from critics (including a Venice Film Festival Critics Prize)—as well as studios, resulting in a couple of impersonal projects in the 1960s (Too Late Blues, A Child Is Waiting). He dove back into personal filmmaking later in the decade with the devastating domestic drama Faces (1968). Though hardly a crowd-pleaser, that film—made, like Shadows, wholly independently—was an art-house success, resulting in three Oscar nominations. From that point on, Cassavetes was synonymous with uncompromising, anti-studio American fare, working with a rotating cast of brilliant actors like Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, and, of course, his wife, Gena Rowlands, to touch raw nerves with such films as A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976), and Opening Night (1976). Cassavetes died in 1989.