Leo is released from prison after serving time for car theft. His plan to go straight falls apart when he meets his corrupt uncle for a job and later an old friend working there. It culminates at the (railroad) yards.
1921. An innocent immigrant woman is tricked into a life of burlesque and vaudeville until a dazzling magician tries to save her and reunite her with her sister who is being held in the confines of Ellis Island.
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In the rail yards of Queens, contractors repair and rebuild the city's subway cars. These contracts are lucrative, so graft and corruption are rife. When Leo Handler gets out of prison, he finds his aunt married to Frank Olchin, one of the big contractors; he's battling with a minority-owned firm for contracts. Willie Gutierrez, Leo's best friend, is Frank's bag man and heads a crew of midnight saboteurs who ruin the work of the Puerto Rican-owned firm. Leo needs a job, so Willie pays him to be his back-up. Then things go badly wrong one night, a cop IDs Leo, and everyone now wants him out of the picture. Besides his ailing mom and his cousin Erica, to whom can Leo turn?Written by
The film was beset by significant post-production drama over creative differences about its tone and content, as detailed in the book "Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film" by Peter Biskind. It appears on a 2017 list in "The Telegraph" in an article entitled "Harvey Scissorhands: 6 Flms Ruined by Harvey Weinstein." See more »
The pearl handled pistol that Frank Olchin removes from his sock drawer was sitting on his desk in the study, the room he just left. See more »
The Unrated cut is 113 minutes and two scenes from the original theatrical R-rated cut have been removed. This version is about two minutes shorter. The final scene in court when Leo testifies and states that he has reformed and is reentering society as a productive citizen, has been dropped. A brief scene early in the film in which Willie (Phoenix) describes the importance of favors and gifts and "making it happen" is also cut (this scene however does appears on the included trailer on the DVD). The end credits now begin with 'empty' views of the film's settings before moving into the credits list. Also included on the DVD are several deleted scenes. See more »
This is an excellent film, well-written and expertly told. Unlike so many so-called "neo-noir" movies, this one is concerned with time-honored virtues of traditional storytelling, not style and attitude. As a director, Gray had the courage to tell his bleak, oppressive tale in a quiet, measured way, resisting the urge to ratchet up the action and decibels and pander to a jaded audience. If the story gets a bit needlessly contrived by the climax, it's rescued by the exceptional cast. This one can stand with the best of the classic noirs.
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