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The Usual Suspects (1995)
Photo: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The Usual Suspects (1995)

  Movie House Memories Episode #103
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Gramercy Pictures released The Usual Suspects to theaters on September 15, 1995. Bryan Singer directed the film which starred Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, and Chazz Palminteri.

The Usual Suspects Movie Summary

Borrowing the title of the film from one of the best lines of dialogue from Claude Rains in the previously reviewed Casablanca, The Usual Suspects is tightly written heist film with one of the best twists in the history of motion pictures.

The film opens with a blood bath at a dock in San Pedro Bay. Only two men survive, a Hungarian mobster hospitalized with severe burns and a con artist with cerebral palsy named 
“Verbal” Kint. Kint tells the police that he and four other criminals were pulled together in New York for line-up a few weeks before. The cop turned criminal Dean Keaton, the trigger happy Michael McManus, the hot-headed Todd Hockney, and the unintelligible Fred Fenster.

The group is ultimately released after the line-up, but decide to get their revenge against the NYPD by robbing some dirty cops of some precious jewels and publicly exposing the law enforcement corruption. The gang takes the jewelry to California where they are contacted by a mysterious attorney who has a specific request of them. They must shoot their way onto a ship in San Pedro Bay, kill a gang of Argentinian drug dealers, and destroy $91 million worth of cocaine. The attorney assures them that they will not all survive, but those that do will be rich. If they choose not to except the job, the attorney’s employer, the mysterious underworld figure/legend Keyser Söze will have them each killed for the slights that they have individually made against Söze’s business interests.

In Kint’s account of the events, each man reacts differently to the threat and the job. But ultimately, most of the group takes on the suicide mission, leading to the ultimate conclusion of the film. Who is Keyser Söze? Is he a ghost story being used to pull the stings of our criminals? Or is he the truly sophisticated criminal mind that is reported in legend? And is one of the crew actually Keyser Söze? Possibly the burned Hungarian mobster lying in the hospital will have a clue to the mastermind’s true identity. All is answered by the end of Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects.


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  • Eddie

    Matt is right, this movie is a basically a fantasy(a throwback to 40s film noirs), while goodfellas is reality. So I’m not surprised at all Lori would like this and hate goodfellas. I like a wide range of crime dramas, but I thought usual suspects was pretty silly, even in 1995. On my short list for the most overrated movie of all time. I’m with ebert. But hey, at least this isn’t a Kevin smith movie:)
    Witness for the Prosecution is great btw, top 100 for sure to me. Surprised lori isn’t a big fan. Guess there won’t be a future podcast on it.

    • MHMChris

      Witness for the Prosecution could show up on the Golden Age podcast.

      I am going to tell everyone you secretly love the Usual Suspects though! 😉 I do like the nori aspect of this film though.

      • Eddie

        Glad that Lori didn’t remember the end of witness. It would have been a shame to spoil it, it’s rightfully one of the most famous endings of all time.

        • MHMChris

          I don’t remember either. I need to watch that one.

    • Chad M. Moon

      I’ve always liked and respected Roger Ebert, but he was clueless on this one. The Usual Suspects is one of those rare movies where the writing, directing, cinematography, and acting are near flawless all over the board. Based on his written review, he seems to have gotten so wrapped up in trying to comprehend the plot that he forgot to actually watch the movie. Twice.

    • Lori

      Hi Eddie,
      I remember liking Witness For the Prosecution. I need to rewatch it. I was very young the last time that I saw it and do not remember it well.

      • Eddie

        Bet you’d put it in your top 100 if you gave it a rewatch:)

  • Eddie

    So kevin spacey has been cut from the film All the Money in the World and has been recast with Christopher Plummer! They say they will still make the December 22 release. This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard. I guess we aren’t able to separate the artist from the person anymore. Bryan Singer is next on the list…

    • MHMChris

      People still love Chinatown…and Roman Polanski for that matter…and he’s been convicted. Spacey’s accusations should be taken seriously, but we are bordering on the stoning scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

      • Eddie

        Yeah well, enjoy Chinatown while you can. Hollywood is now self censoring anything involving anyone who did anything offensive to anyone it seems. They just pulled the release of Louie CK’s film “I Love You Daddy,” it may never see the light of day. hbo even pulled all his specials from their steaming services! I imagine there will a strong movement to protest or hinder the release of Woody Allens new movie. The World has changed overnight, with a big assist from social media. Something like Polanski winning an Oscar would be impossible today. They’ll probably revoke him from the academy in a few months. Hollywood is now the moral police.