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.
The plight of a teenaged reform-school inmate, committed for being a habitual runaway; but, for all her surface toughness, still unworldly and naïve. All this changes in the reformatory, where she rapidly becomes as hard, callous, and irredeemable as her fellow detentionees. Even upon her probationary release, she shows no sign of being "cured" by her incarceration.