Tom O'Toole

Created by Arthur Miller

In his first original screenplay since The Misfits way back in 1961, Arthur Miller (The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, etc.) tackled the private eye genre in 1990's moody, cynical Everybody Wins, starring Nick Nolte and Debra Winger.

Nolte plays TOM O'TOOLE with a sort of rumpled, vulnerable charm. He's a former Boston cop turned small town private investigator who works out of his home, a "comfortable, conventional ranch house out in the country," just a bit outside of Highbury, Conneticutt, a small industrial city of maybe 40,000. He's a widower, whose wife, Catherine, passed away some three years ago, leaving him with two boys. His sister, Connie, a school teacher, moved in to help with the children, but now the boys are gone, and it's just the two of them. But Connie's maternal instincts and over-protectiveness towards Tom are starting to chafe.

And then Tom is hired by one Angela Crispini (Debra Winger), an obnoxious hooker with a multiple-personality disorder and a whole lot of other problems, who wants him to find evidence to free Felix, a boy she feels has been wrongly convicted of murder. After several years of being more or less celibate, Tom finds himself falling for Angela, despite evidence that she's either crazy or a liar (or possibly both.)

When it was released, the film was condemned for being too talky, too preachy and just too slow. But if you can fall into its quirky rhythms, there's a lot to enjoy in this flawed but ambitious film.

Sure, it's pretentious and awkwardly self-conscious as hell at times, but Nolte and Winger play the hell out of their characters, and Judith Ivey as the "I told you so" sister is a real treat. Chalk this one up as one that "coulda been a contender."


  • "Reisz and Miller reworked the author's original script, "trying to make it more visual and give it more cinematic suspense," says Reisz. What they came up with is a mess akin to Norman Mailer's Tough Guys Don't Dance. Everybody Wins should have been titled Death of a Playwright.

-- Rita Kempley, The Washington Post

  • "...playwright Arthur Miller takes his sweet time getting into characters -- at the cost of plot. He and director Karel Reisz... experiment wildly in film noir and parareality... Yet, even at its misbegotten worst (and it's more misbegotten than successful), 'Everybody' has...originality of purpose... Miller seems interested primarily in human corruptions, major and minor, and he doesn't mind where he has to go to find it... The story involves... a conspiracy that, in Winger's unreliable words, goes all the way "to the top of the mountain." Or does it? That seems to be the point in Miller's film-noir allegory: Nothing and no one makes sense but everyone adjusts. "Everything is possible and impossible at the same time," Winger explains to Nolte. "This is what I live with all the time." And the thing about "Everybody" is, she's not kidding."

-- Desson Howe, The Washington Post


  • EVERYBODY WINS...Buy this video...Buy this DVD
    (1990, Orion)
    97 minutes
    Based on the play Some Kind of Love Story by Arthur Miller
    Screenplay by Arthur Miller
    Directed by Karel Reisz
    Produced by Jeremy Thomas
    Music by Mark Isham
    Starring Nick Nolte as TOM O'TOOLE
    and Debra Winger as Angela Crispini
    Also starring Judith Ivey, Frank Military, Jack Warden, Frank Converse, Peter Appel, T.M. Nelson George, R.M. Haley, Mert Hatfield, Elizabeth Ann Klein, James Parisi, Steven Skybell, Sean Weil, Kathleen Wilhoite, Mary Louise Wilson, Timothy D. Wright


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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