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When the Movies MatteredThe New Hollywood Revisited$
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Jonathan Kirshner and Jon Lewis

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501736094

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501736094.001.0001

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“I Don’t Know What to Do With my Hands”

“I Don’t Know What to Do With my Hands”

John Cassavetes’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie

(p.130) Chapter 8 “I Don’t Know What to Do With my Hands”
When the Movies Mattered

George Kouvaros

Cornell University Press

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is not a gangster film, writer-director John Cassavetes insists, but the precise rendition of a world—both everyday and larger than life. This chapter will consider what The Killing of a Chinese Bookie reveals about Cassavetes’ place in the New Hollywood. If one of the distinguishing features of this period is its filmmakers’ willingness to question motivations and suspend narrative causality, then how does Cassavetes’ rendition of the entanglements of a small-time strip club owner complicate or confirm this interpretation? In pursuing this and other questions, this chapter will consider the connections between The Killing of Chinese Bookie and other films in the director’s oeuvre as well as its affiliation to one of the era’s most important re-workings of the gangster film: Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky (1976).

Keywords:   John Cassavetes, Independent Film, New Hollywood, Elaine May

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