Some think Miller's Crossing is a remake of the 1935 drama The Glass Key starring George Raft (or possibly the 1942 remake, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake). When in fact it is inspired from two novels by author Dashiell Hammett: The Glass Key and Red Harvest (Hammett also wrote The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man).|
Supposedly the Coen Brothers hit a wall while writing the script, thus took a break and wrote Barton Fink - a movie about an author with writer's block. Even more interesting, Tom Reagan's apartment building is named "The Barton Arms".
The scenes in the Miller's Crossing forrest were filmed on a treefarm ninety minutes from New Orleans (where the rest of the film was shot).
The name of the "old Neapolitan song" that Frankie (actor Mike Starr) sings in the forrest is called La Ghirlandeina and can be found on the Luciano Pavarotti CD Mamma.
Actor Trey Wilson (who played Nathan Arizona Sr. in Raising Arizona) was originally supposed to play Leo. However Trey suffored from a cerebral hemorrhage and died only a few weeks before production began. Albert Finney took the job only two days before the first day of shooting.
The Coens originally wanted actor Gabriel Byrne to give an american accent. But Gabriel read with his natural Irish accent and they loved it.
The role of Johnny Caspar was written as an older man in his fifties. But Jon Polito, at the time only 38 years old, insisted that he only read for that part.
In the original screenplay, the character Eddie "The Dane" was actually named 'Bluepoint Vance'.
TOM'S HAT: Five identical hats were made for Byrne to wear during the filming, but another "generic" one was used for the opening shot of the credits: a hat blowing away from the camera across a field, which was filmed at high speed using a special lightwieght hat that could be controlled with a fishing line. This shot, the last to be filmed, "was one of the first images we wrote," according to Ethan. "The idea of the hat blowing away in the woods, without really knowing how it was supposed to fit in." Unlike the other image of thugs in the woods, this one was left unexplained and floating free of any plot connection, except for a dream Tom describes at one point to Verna.
In the apartment of "Drop" Johnson, there is a poster on the wall of a fight between Johnson and "Lars Thorvald". Lars Thorvald is a character in the Hitchcock classic Rear Window.
This was Barry Sonnenfeld's last job as a Cinematographer, before moving onto directing films such as The Addams Family, Get Shorty and Men In Black. He also photographed the Coens' two previous works, Raising Arizona and Blood Simple.
- Frances McDormand plays the mayor's secretary in an uncredited cameo
- Sam Raimi (director of The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness and Spider-Man) plays the snickering gunman who shoots a man while blowing up one of Leo's clubs
- During the opening scene, the cigar on Leo's desk mysteriously changes position, then eventually switches back again.
- In the dressing room scene, Verna hits Tom, then Tom throws his glass at her, breaking the mirror behind her. In the next shot the mirror is shattered in several more places.