Miller's Crossing | 1990
The locations for Miller’s Crossing, the Coen brothers’ typically idiosyncratic take on the gangster pic, can be found around New Orleans, though the Prohibition-era city remains anonymous throughout.
The ‘Shenandoah Club’ run by Irish underworld boss Leo O’Bannion (Albert Finney) is – what was then – the old worlde-style dining room of New Orleans’ International House Hotel, 221 Camp Street at Gravier Street, on the border between the French Quarter and Central Business District.
The hotel has undergone a serious makeover since filming, bought in 1998 by entrepreneur Sean Cummings and, along with architect Brooks Graham, transformed into a boutique hotel. In 2007, It was given a further renovation by LM Pagano, designer of choice for the likes of Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp.
Leo’s wood-panelled office, with its imposing semicircular window looking out onto Camp Street, was indeed above the dining room. It’s now been modernised to become one of the hotel’s meeting rooms.
The grand pillared exterior, seen later during the police raid, is the Main Office entrance of Whitney National Bank, 619 Gravier Street, which is just around the corner from the International House.
Although the room of Leo’s right-hand man Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) is a studio set, the exterior of the ‘Barton Arms’ (a nod to Barton Fink, which the Coens wrote during a break in the filming of Miller’s Crossing), is 7904 St Charles Avenue between Huso and Fern Streets in the East Carrollton district, way to the west of the city.
Back nearer the centre, interior sets were built in a huge garage space belonging to the estate agents Toye Brothers at 1600 Annunciation Street in the Lower Garden District.
In the Garden District itself, the shoeshine stand, where Tom tries to put one more ill-advised bet on the horses, was set up in front of what is now Magazine Antiques, 2028 Magazine Street, between St Andrews and Josephine Streets. The pillars supporting the ornate balconies on the south side of the street are a clue as to which city we’re in.
It’s a little further along, outside 2036 Magazine Street. that Tom is picked up and taken to a meeting with rival gangleader Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito).
Caspar’s illegal gaming club, from which Tom is rescued by a timely police raid, is the west side of South Peters Street between Julia and St Joseph Streets, in the Warehouse District – now trendily rebranded as the Arts District. Although it looks every bit as rundown as it did in the film, this is more gallery-style shabby chic.
Leo’s home is made up of studio sets, but the tree-lined avenue, where he demonstrates his prowess with a machine gun after the attempt on his life, is Northline Street in the posh Old Metarie section, west of New Orleans Country Club.
When Tom tips off Caspar’s men as to the whereabouts of Bernie (John Turturro), ‘The Royale’, the hotel from which he’s abducted to be driven off to the fateful Crossing, is 913 Magazine Street, alongside the carpark at St Joseph Street, a few blocks west of the Arts District location.
After the raid on Leo’s ‘Shenandoah’, Tom is indeed walking away along Gravier Street to the junction with Magazine Street when he’s ‘invited’ into the car with the Dane (JE Freeman), who’s demanding proof that Tom really did kill Bernie at Miller’s Crossing. The only thing is, Tom is two blocks away walking toward the nightclub location.
The ‘Sons of Erin Social Club’, apparently blown up during the police raid and raked with gunfire, seems to have survived surprisingly well, on the east side of Church Street, at Girod Street, south of Lafayette Square. The ‘snickering gunman’, who dies in a hail of bullets, is a micro-cameo from Spider-Man director Sam Raimi.
A couple of other jokey cameos include Frances McDormand (aka Mrs Joel Coen) as the Mayor’s vampy secretary, and Albert Finney doubling up as the ‘Shenandoah’s’ matronly Ladies Room attendant, who crosses herself as Tom bursts in to find Verna (Marcia Gay Harden).
The Mayor’s office, where Caspar shows who’s really in charge, is – fittingly – the Mayor’s Parlor of Gallier Hall, 545 St Charles Avenue, opposite Lafayette Square. Dating from the 1850s, and formerly the City Hall, this impressive Greek Revival building is currently a convention center, reception hall and home of The Ty Tracy Theatre.
Gallier Hall also provided the great room in Caspar’s house, where Tom provokes Leo’s great rival into finishing off the Dane.
The exterior and lobby Caspar’s house are the exclusive Louise S McGehee School, 2343 Prytania Street, in the heart of the Garden District.
Tom’s walk with Verna in the rain, as he tells her that Bernie is still alive, which appears to be ‘Chinatown’, is Picayune Place, which runs south from Gravier Street. The same narrow street was more recently home to Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in Rian Johnson’s 2012 time-travel thriller Looper.
‘Miller’s Crossing’ itself, the wood where Tom has to carry out the killings, is a forest plantation about 30 miles east of Baton Rouge, near Hammond, on Route 190.