One of John Cassavetes' grittiest films, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, if nothing else, gives us Ben Gazzara in a virtuoso performance. His haughty strip club owner is full of sadness and great lines, and though his story is circuitous and overlong (particularly the 1976 original; the 1978 version is about half an hour shorter), it's got moxie. The dilemma at hand: Should the broke Gazzara kill a rival Chinese bookie in order to wipe out his own $23,000 gambling bet? Heavy stuff, but it takes its sweet sweet time in getting to the point.
Brilliant study into the nature of cowardice and the pathetic nature of the modern (well, in 1957) military machine. Vehemently anti-war, Kubrick takes us on a this-can't-be-happening ride, as French soldiers fail in their mission to take a certain hill from the enemy. A court martial ensues, with devastating results.