The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Ben Gazzara, Timothy Carey, Seymour Cassel, Robert Phillips,
Cassavetes’s Sunset Strip neo-noir is centered around a “classy” strip club, the Crazy Horse West, and its proprietor Cosmo Vitelli (Ben Gazzara). Devoted to creating the illusion of glamour, sophistication, and sexiness at the club, Gazzara’s Cosmo performs the role of a cool high roller both onstage and off, seemingly oblivious to his low-rent environs. When his chosen identity puts him in debt to the mob, instead of retreating he plunges himself ever more determinedly into his dangerous role. A cautionary tale about the dangers that lurk behind the masks we make for ourselves and about the border between reality and illusion.