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Donny Dubrow (Dennis Franz) is a pawn shop owner in a seedy section of town. Business is slow and Donny's upset because he's just sold a buffalo head nickel to a buyer who paid much less than it was worth. He's got his young gofer, Bobby (Sean Nelson), scouting out the man, watching for when he'll leave town so that Bobby can break into the man's home to steal the coin back. Donny's friend, Teach (Dustin Hoffman), however, doesn't think it's a good idea as he believes that Bobby's too young and inexperienced to pull such a heist. Teach suggests he help out and that while they're at it, they should clean the guy out. So they take Bobby off the job, but then begin to get suspicious when he brings in and tries to sell a similar nickel. Soon, no one knows whom to believe until the suspicions come to a boil in the final violent ending.

"Playwright David Mamet excels in depicting the inner sanctum of the low-life New Yorker in all his glory. His work is about male bonding and failure, and his words have a perceptive truth about them. On film, however, without the help of a truly strong and cinematically expressive director (as in the case of James Foley's searing adaptation of Glengary Glen Ross), what is left, is a film of hollow repetition, an overly verbose piece designed to offer the viewer not so much as insight into these characters' souls, but an appreciation of acting, and little more. Al Pacino originated the role of Teach and was the first choice in the film, but didn't want to work with this first-time director. Regrettably then, Dustin Hoffman, who manages to define the artistry of over-acting, is in the role, so that what one has is a technically polished performance piece. Hoffman lacks the emotional depth in his exploration of this greasy character, it's all mannerism and gesture. There's no sense of character, but theatrics which is why the film never achieves dramatic momentum. Dennis Franz, however, outshines Hoffman, and delivers a beautifully engaging performance, subtle, intricate, soul-searching. Had he played opposite Pacino under the direction of James Foley, a great play may well have been a great movie, instead of the plodding, verbal bore left in its wake."
Paul Fischer

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CAST: Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Franz, Sean Nelson

DIRECTOR: Michael Corrente

PRODUCER: Gregory Mosher

SCRIPT: David Mamet (based on David Mametís play)


EDITOR: Kate Sanford

MUSIC: Thomas Newall


RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 23, 1997 (Melbourne)

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