Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Cosmo Vitelli owns the Crazy Horse West, a strip joint in California. He's laconic, a Korean War vet, and a gambler. When we meet him, he's making his last payment on a gambling debt. Then, he promptly loses $23,000 playing poker at an illegal local casino. The guys he owes this time aren't so friendly, pressuring him for immediate payment. Then they suggest that he kill a Chinese bookie to wipe off the debt.
Vitelli and the film move back and forth between the double-crossing, murderous insincerity of the gamblers and the friendships, sweetness, and even love among Vitelli, the dancers, a dancer's mother, and the club's singer, Mr. Sophistication.
Beauty pageant loser Toni takes a job subbing for the ailing head of a fake psychic's racket, Toni whimsically advises attorney Brad Cavanaugh to purchase some property that is coveted by the government. Cavanaugh follows her advice, nearly ruining himself in the process.