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Comparison between Tom In “Miller’s Crossing” And Jack In “The Shining"

Comparison between Tom In “Miller’s Crossing” And Jack In “The Shining”


In a film, the role of an actor is to portray its main message and theme (Caine 1-20). In this sense, the audience can relate with the movie basing on the role played by the main actor. In case of disconnection between the chief actor and the rest of the cast, it is likely that the movie will not deliver the intended message (Caine 1-20). The paper examines the role of the principal actors in movies of two different genres, horror and suspense and crime and gangster film. The paper is divided into two parts which seek to draw distinctions and similarities between Tom in Miller’s Crossing and Jack in The Shining.

Examining Tom Reagan in Miller’s Crossing

General Characteristics of the Actor. Gabriel Byrne plays Tom Reagan in Miller’s Crossing. Although Tom sometimes appears as cruel, brooding, and flawed, however, his overall character demonstrates an attractive, sympathetic, and admirable character. Tom Regan tries to hide his emotions from the rest of the cast, and his bitterness is evident when he kills Bernie, despite Bernie begging for mercy (Coughlin 225). Tom has a challenging role to play a character who is not likable; however, he somehow manages to keep the audience entertained. Even though he has a magnificent vocal exchange with other actors, his excellence in non-verbal communication makes the actor remarkable (Coughlin 229). The excellence in his acting lies in the fact that no one can predict the next move of Tom Reagan, and this keeps the audience guessing on his steps. Though Tom is bitter and wants to revenge, he is to make sure that his moves remain secretive (Coughlin 232).

Even in instances when Tom is stressed, he does not seem to be angry. Some would argue that the protagonist does not appear as a tough person. However, his moves are reasonable, because he has to operate in the environment filled with complex people (Coughlin 238). Even in instances where the rivals intimidate him, he at least tries to show that he does not lose the battle easily. His role makes him appear as an unpleasant man, but he manages to develop a character that is the audience can easily identify with (Caine 87). In the end, his personality becomes admirable in spite of the several flaws portrayed in his character.

How Tom Relates with other Actors of the Film. The relation of the protagonist to the other actors brings out the general theme of the movie. In Miller’s Crossing, Tom comes out as a secretive man. He does not want anybody to know his thoughts, and even the audience cannot guess Tom’s intentions or desires. The relationship he develops with the rest of the cast remains secretive, considering that he does not deem it appropriate to be open for the rest of the cast. Apparently, in the film, Tom has sexual desires, and an inference can be made that he is gay.. (Coughlin 234).

Tom has a good relationship with his friend, Leo (Coughlin 235). However, he does not like his sister. To create a close bond with Leo, he develops a sexual interest in Verne and ends up having sex with her. However, it is still Leo he is really intimately interested in, and this is the reason he fights to keep Leo happy. The reason of his orientation ambivalence may be the fact that homosexual relationship is not fully accepted in the then society. While engaging in an affair with a woman, Tom is determined to develop a cordial relationship with Leo. He kills Bernie despite the fact that there is no reason to murder. In the end, Tom remains disappointed, as his efforts to keep Leo closer to him may be futile due to the intention of Leo and Verne to be married (Coughlin 241).

From the above mentioned characteristics, it is difficult to distinguish between amicable and intimate relationships. This difficulty happens, as it is complicated to tell if the actors are talking about their lover, friend, or a business partner. These terms are therefore used interchangeably. As a result, it is relatively easier to make assumptions that the relationships in the film are based on sexual interest. In case the three main character in the film are gay, including Tom, it is obvious that the relationship between them is sexually driven.

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Theme and Mood. From the film, Tom has to remain secretive to the point that the audience does not even understand his next move. Besides, his sexual orientation also remains a complicated issue. In his quest to restore the order in Miller’s Crossing, Tom kills Bernie even though most people suppose there was no need to kill. He goes ahead to eliminate Eddie and John Caspar out of his way, and in the process he manages to end the war in the film (Nolan 21). Besides, he visits Bernie’s funeral and is shocked to know that Leo and Verna have decided to exchange vows. It is clear that this news changes Tom. Immediately after Leo says that is he is going to marry Verna, Tom is not impressed. Perhaps, he is not comfortable for the two ending up together, considering the sacrifice he has made to ensure that Leo is restored to the throne. Tom experiences huge disappointment due to the fact that he is going to lose Verna, while he cannot be with Leo either (Nolan 18).

Examining Jack in The Shinning

General Characteristics of the Actor. In comparison to Tom in Miller’s Crossing, Jack at first appears as an extremely sympathetic individual. In fact, this is highlighted in is desire and even his determination to be a person of a good character. Thus, he initially has to be a good father, husband, as well as the best in his career (Manchel 68). However, Jack has an extremist part in him, which effectively fades his good personality (Brummett 256). He has demonic spirits, he is alcoholic, and he has memories of his alcoholic father. Inside the Overlook Hotel, the audience receives an in-depth understanding of his character. Jack is overcome by the demons, and this completely alters his character in the film. As has been already noted, in the end he becomes violent to the point that he turns against his family members, Wendy and Danny (Manchel 68). In this sense, the hotel plays a role in transforming Jack from a partial protagonist to a full-blown antagonist. Nonetheless, even in Jack’s horrifying moments, he still has some love for his family (Manchel 68).

The Film Environment. Unlike the environment in Miller’s Crossing, in The Shinning it is in the hotel that Jack appears as an extremely possessed man. Perhaps, Danny’s shine plays a crucial role in bringing the events at the Overlook Hotel to life (Manchel 68). Considering that Danny has an incredible and powerful shine, the ghost that has been in the hotel has to come out and be revealed in the film. The greatness in Danny’s shine gives the ghosts the power to influence the characters in the movie. This appeals to the people who have no shine, such as Danny’s mother and father. It becomes evident that the hotel transforms Jack into insanity. In this sense, it can be inferred that there is a strong connection between the abilities that Danny has, and the disabilities tearing down his father, Jack. The clarity of these situations in the movie comes out when Jack is highly possessed at Overlook Hotel (Brummett 252). Even though he tries to fight the negative traits while being at the hotel, it only gets worse as he is extremely possessed to the point that he turns against his family and communicates with the ghost (Brummett 256).

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The Theme and Message. In contrast to Miller’s Crossing that is focused on secrecy, The Shinning revolves around ghost possession and determination of Jack to remain sane. Additionally, the audience is kept in suspense and is eager to know how Jack will keep himself sane (Manchel 68). However, it becomes difficult for Jack to remain sane once he enters the hotel room at the Overlook.

Since demons possess Jack, he cannot think rationally, and his quest to be a good man is impeded by the demons. The confrontation with his wife over an alleged attempted murder of Danny creates more friction with his family inside the hotel (Brummett 248). In the end, Jack becomes even more violent and as seen through the animosity he has developed against his family. It is significant that his family protect themselves because he is no longer protective as a father and husband. Therefore, they lock him up. At this point, the audience can only hope that Jack does not turn violent to the family (Brummett 253).

The Relationships in Shinning. Similar to Tom’s good relationship with other actors and actresses, at the beginning of the movie Jack has a good relationship with his family (Manchel 68). Although he has a hot temper and is an alcoholic, at least he strives to make himself better in order to be accepted by his family (Manchel 68). Of course, it is obvious that his family understands his indiscretions and is sure that he could change and become a person of a likable character.

Further, similar to the relationship disappointment portrayed at the end of Miller’s Crossing, the relationship in The Shinning do not blossom, as the increased demon possession at Overlook Hotel makes Jack a crazy character (Manchel 68). He no longer could offer protection to his family, and this has led to frictions within it. The situation becomes worse when Jack atains closer relations with the ghosts, thus, affecting the overall relationship with his family (Brummett 261). Perhaps, the only thing that keeps the family together for some period is the shine, specifically Danny’s ability to foresee thing that could happen in the future.

Similarities and Differences between Tom and Jack Roles in Their Respective Films

Tom and Jack are both determined to revenge. In Miller’s Crossing, Tom revenges by killing Bernie in a bid to create strong bonds with Leo and Verna (Nolan 18). At first, Tom appears composed in Miller’s Crossing similar to Jack when he still cared for his family (Nolan 18). Both actors reveal their bad characters towards the end of the film when they are determined to revenge.

Different from Miller’s Crossing where Tom Reagan comes out as secretive, The Shinning revolves around ghost possession and the determination of Jack to remain sane (Brummett 257). Tom secrecy is fulfilled after he revenges by killing Bernie, while Jack ghost possession forces him to turn against his family at Overlook Hotel (Brummett 261).

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Prior to their revenge mission, both Tom and Jack enjoy a good relationship with other characters at the beginning of the movie. Tom makes friends with the rest of the cast while Jack has a close attachment to his family. However, Tom’s motive in the relationship he develops with the cast is questioned, as some people argue that he is gay (Nolan 21). On the other hand, Jack’s relationship with Wendy and Danny is based on the existing family ties (Brummett 252).

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In conclusion, this paper has examined differing roles played by Tom Reagan and Jack in the discussed movies. On the one hand, in Miller’s Crossing, Tom builds his relationship by keeping secrets. He comes off as a schemer, and the moves he makes in the film are well calculated and remain mysterious to the entire cast as well as to the audience. On the other hand, in The Shinning, Jack is determined to stay sane. However, the demons that possess him make it difficult for his relationship with his family to thrive. In Miller’s Crossing, the environment favors secrecy to thrive, while in Sunshine, the presence of the demons escalates Jack’s situation, and in the process, he turns against his family. In the beginning, both actors have a close relationship with the cast, however, in the course of the movie, the revenge mission ends up separating the cast. In this case, both actors are bitter and determined to revenge.