Dynah Markowitz

Written by Dynah Markowitz

Modified & Updated: 28 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: starplus.com

Miller’s Crossing is a critically acclaimed crime film directed by Joel Coen and released in 1990. Set in the prohibition era of the 1920s, the movie follows the intricate and treacherous world of gangsters and corruption in an unnamed American city.

With its smart writing, stylish visuals, and stellar performances, Miller’s Crossing has become a cult classic in the genre. It is a film that showcases the Coen brothers’ unique blend of dark comedy, suspense, and drama. The intricate plot, filled with twist and turns, keeps audiences engaged from start to finish, while the memorable characters and their conflicting loyalties create a gripping narrative.

In this article, we will dive into 34 fascinating facts about Miller’s Crossing, covering everything from its inception to its impact on the world of cinema. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to explore this captivating film in all its glory!

Key Takeaways:

  • Miller’s Crossing is a timeless crime film with a unique setting, memorable characters, and a blend of intense drama and subtle humor, making it a must-watch for movie enthusiasts.
  • The Coen brothers’ masterful direction, award-winning writing, and powerful performances create a captivating cinematic experience that continues to influence crime films and captivate audiences worldwide.
Table of Contents

Unique Setting:

Set in an unnamed city during the Prohibition era, Miller’s Crossing immerses viewers in a gritty underworld filled with gangsters, corruption, and power struggles.

Coen Brothers Collaboration:

Miller’s Crossing was the third collaboration between the Coen brothers, serving as a follow-up to their success with “Raising Arizona” and “Blood Simple.

Inspired by Dashiell Hammett:

The Coen brothers drew inspiration from the works of iconic crime novelist Dashiell Hammett, particularly his novels “Red Harvest” and “The Glass Key.”

Character Names:

The characters in Miller’s Crossing have unique and memorable names like Tom Reagan, Leo O’Bannon, and Johnny Caspar, adding to the film’s allure.

Notable Cast:

The film boasts a talented ensemble cast, including Gabriel Byrne as the protagonist Tom Reagan, Albert Finney as mob boss Leo O’Bannon, and John Turturro as Bernie Bernbaum.

Stylish Direction:

The Coen brothers‘ distinct style is evident throughout the film, with their signature mix of dark humor, atmospheric visuals, and clever dialogue.

Memorable Dialogue:

Miller’s Crossing is known for its brilliant and quotable dialogue, showcasing the Coen brothers’ mastery of snappy and witty exchanges between characters.

A Tale of Loyalty and Betrayal:

The film delves into themes of loyalty, betrayal, and morality, exploring the complex relationships between the characters.

Iconic Opening Sequence:

The movie opens with a mesmerizing long take shot, showcasing the attention to detail and meticulous craftsmanship of the Coen brothers.

Stunning Cinematography:

Miller’s Crossing is visually stunning, thanks to the brilliant cinematography by Barry Sonnenfeld. The use of shadow and light adds depth to each scene.

Jazz-Influenced Score:

The film’s score, composed by Carter Burwell, features jazz-inspired melodies that enhance the atmosphere and mood of the movie.

Coen Brothers’ Quirky Humor:

While Miller’s Crossing is a crime drama, it still contains the Coen brothers’ trademark humor, blending dark comedy with intense moments.

Tension-Filled Plot:

The intricate plot of Miller’s Crossing keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, filled with twists, turns, and unexpected alliances.

Use of Hat Symbolism:

Hats play a significant role in the film, symbolizing power, loyalty, and identity. Pay close attention to the characters’ hats throughout the movie.

Homage to Film Noir:

The Coen brothers pay homage to the classic film noir genre, infusing Miller’s Crossing with its distinct visual style and morally ambiguous characters.

Realistic Violence:

Miller’s Crossing features intense and realistic scenes of violence, capturing the brutal nature of the gangster world.

Critical Acclaim:

The film received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, with many praising its writing, acting, and stylish direction.

Box Office Success:

While Miller’s Crossing didn’t achieve blockbuster status, it performed well at the box office and has since become a cult classic.

Influence on Other Films:

Miller’s Crossing has had a significant influence on subsequent crime films, inspiring filmmakers with its unique tone and narrative structure.

Timeless Appeal:

Despite being released over 30 years ago, Miller’s Crossing still holds up as a captivating and engaging cinematic experience.

Thought-Provoking Themes:

The film explores deep themes of power, morality, and the blurred lines between good and evil, leaving audiences with much to ponder.

Intense Performances:

The cast delivers powerful performances that bring the complex characters to life, adding depth and authenticity to the story.

Distinctive Costume Design:

The period costumes in Miller’s Crossing are meticulously crafted, further immersing viewers in the 1920s setting.

Visual Symbolism:

The film utilizes visual symbolism to enhance its storytelling, from recurring motifs to carefully composed shots that convey deeper meanings.

Complex Relationships:

The relationships between the characters are layered and nuanced, driving the narrative forward and adding emotional depth to the film.

Coen Brothers’ Directing Style:

The Coen brothers’ unique directing style shines through in Miller’s Crossing, showcasing their attention to detail and meticulous storytelling.

Multi-Dimensional Characters:

The characters in the film are multi-dimensional, with their own motivations, flaws, and inner conflicts.

Exploration of Power Dynamics:

Miller’s Crossing delves into the intricacies of power dynamics within the criminal underworld, as characters vie for control and dominance.

Award-Winning Writing:

The screenplay for Miller’s Crossing earned the Coen brothers a nomination for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.

Strong Female Characters:

Although male-dominated, the film features strong and complex female characters who play pivotal roles in the story.

Subtle Humor:

While Miller’s Crossing is primarily a serious crime drama, it incorporates subtle moments of humor that provide relief amidst the tension.

Dynamic Editing:

The film’s editing is masterfully done, seamlessly blending the different narrative threads to create a cohesive and engaging story.

Exploration of Betrayal:

Betrayal is a recurring theme in Miller’s Crossing, as characters face the consequences of their actions and struggle with loyalty.

Enduring Legacy:

Miller’s Crossing continues to be celebrated as one of the Coen brothers’ finest works and remains a beloved film among cinephiles around the world.


Miller’s Crossing is a must-watch for any movie enthusiast. With its intricate plot, stellar performances, and expertly crafted direction, it has secured its place among the greatest films in the crime genre. The film explores themes of loyalty, betrayal, and redemption in a captivating and suspenseful manner, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats from start to finish.With its visually stunning cinematography, impeccable dialogue, and unforgettable characters, Miller’s Crossing remains a true masterpiece that stands the test of time. Whether you are a fan of the Coen brothers or simply appreciate a well-crafted film, Miller’s Crossing is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Q: Who directed Miller’s Crossing?

A: Miller’s Crossing was directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, commonly known as the Coen brothers.

Q: When was Miller’s Crossing released?

A: Miller’s Crossing was released in the year 1990.

Q: What is the genre of Miller’s Crossing?

A: Miller’s Crossing falls under the crime genre, blending elements of film noir and gangster films.

Q: Who are the main stars in Miller’s Crossing?

A: The main cast of Miller’s Crossing includes Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Albert Finney, and John Turturro.

Q: Where was Miller’s Crossing filmed?

A: The film was primarily shot in New Orleans, Louisiana, which provided the perfect backdrop for its 1920s prohibition-era setting.

Q: Is Miller’s Crossing based on a book?

A: No, Miller’s Crossing is an original screenplay written by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Q: What is the plot of Miller’s Crossing?

A: The film follows the story of Tom Reagan, a trusted advisor to the local Irish mob boss Leo O’Bannon, as he navigates a complex web of loyalty, betrayal, and power struggles amidst a gangster war.

Q: Does Miller’s Crossing have any notable awards or nominations?

A: Yes, Miller’s Crossing was critically acclaimed and received several award nominations, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best Director and the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography.

Q: How is the music in Miller’s Crossing?

A: The film features a moody and atmospheric score composed by Carter Burwell, perfectly complementing the film’s tone and enhancing its cinematic experience.

Q: Can I stream Miller’s Crossing online?

A: Miller’s Crossing is available for streaming on various platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix, but availability may vary depending on your region.

If you enjoyed learning about Miller's Crossing, don't miss our other fascinating articles. Discover the unique style and quirky humor of the Coen Brothers in our exploration of their filmography. For fans of crime dramas, our piece on The Friends of Eddie Coyle offers captivating insights into this gritty classic. And no discussion of gangster films would be complete without delving into the astonishing facts surrounding Scarface, the iconic tale of ambition and excess. Dive into these compelling reads for a deeper appreciation of cinema's most memorable moments.

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