Miller’s Crossing (1990)

What? I’ve never blogged about Miller’s Crossing?  What have I been doing, writing blogposts about films that I love, and I’ve never even mentioned Miller’s Crossing??

As I write this, I can hear the iconic title music by Carter Burwell, based, I believe, on an old Irish original. And it’s funny, in a way, that on this website, with 225 individual blogposts I’ve forgotten about this film, because it seems, so has everyone else… And alongside Donald Cammell’s White of the Eye (which I blogged about a while back…) which is also pretty much forgotten or ignored, Miller’s Crossing is a masterpiece – but a different kind of one. While Cammell’s film is an insane needle to the eye – Miller’s Crossing is something else, an almost perfect script, almost perfect direction, almost perfect performances centred around characters who would never claim to be perfect, or even have a heart.

But heart is what this film has in spades, a twisted, broken love story. Cynical, booze soaked and battered (it would make a nice double bill with Bring Me the head of Alfredo Garcia or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada – another masterpiece I still haven’t written about, don’t worry it’s noted...) Miller’s Crossing is gangster film – but at its dark broken heart it’s a film about life, friendship and love. The gangster part is just the skeleton to hang the story of a man ready to raise hell for his best friend, and the woman they both love.

The dialogue is to die for, some of the best writing ever put on film. The cinematography is wonderful – but it’s the performances that make this stand the test of time.

This is the Gabriel Byrne film – forget everything else (especially Lies We Tell, the massive missed opportunity which I was very briefly involved in) But don’t forget Marcia Gay Harden who plays Verna, a great performance but also a very real female character – and stronger than the men in a gangster film (you don’t see that often).

So, to sum up – I would probably, put Miller’s Crossing in my list of the top ten films of all time, I love it, when I remember it – and that’s the point. Sometimes – things you love have to be forgotten or killed, left to die in the woods, like animals…

I saw this film in 1991, during the day, in an empty cinema in Leeds, I sat in in the back row smoking Regal cigarettes and clinking the ice in my coke.  What a time to be alive!

So the Coen Brother’s whipped up a masterpiece in 1990, what were the odds?

The trailer is below…

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. He’s also a leading UK script consultant. You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb. You can get in touch with Matthew on or hire him on Peopleperhour