Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Screening: "The Big Lebowski"

The Big Lebowski (1998)
Directed/Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, David Huddleston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Elliott, John Turturro, Tara Reid

Fathom Events presented The Big Lebowski on the big screen in honor of the film's 25th anniversary and as part of its Classics series. I saw it on Sunday; it's also screening Wednesday evening.
It's hard to describe The Big Lebowski as it's a very unique story. From the brilliant and offbeat minds of the Coen brothers, it follows the "adventures" of The Dude, real name Jeff Lebowski (Bridges), who wants nothing more than to smoke pot, drink White Russians, and go bowling with his buddies Walter (Goodman) and Donny (Buscemi). But the Dude's mellow existence is upended when he's mistaken for another Jeffrey Lebowski (Huddleston), a wealthy older man whose trophy wife Bunny (Reid) owes money all over town. When one of the people she owes sends goons to The Dude's apartment and one of them urinates on his living room rug, The Dude - egged on by the bombastic Walter - pays a visit to The Big Lebowski, requesting he be compensated for the rug because, "It really tied the room together." He's blown off by the millionaire, who considers him a bum. But when Bunny is kidnapped and a ransom demanded, The Big Lebowski cuts a deal with The Dude - if he deals with the kidnappers to deliver the ransom and recover Bunny, there's a big payoff in it for him.

But things are not as they seem. After a series of mishaps involving The Big Lebowski's adult daughter/artist/aspiring single mother Maude (Moore), the theft and eventual recovery of The Dude's POS car, nihilists, and a Malibu porn producer (among other things), The Dude discovers what really happened with Bunny and how he's been manipulated by everyone involved.

The Big Lebowski facts and trivia:
  • A lot of the clothes worn by The Dude came from Jeff Bridges' own wardrobe.
  • The list of actors that the Coens considered for The Dude before Bridges was finally cast is staggering, and kind of weird. Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Duvall, Mel Gibson, George C. Scott, Andy Griffith, and Ernest Borgnine were all considered.
  • Charlize Theron was considered for the role of Bunny Lebowski. 
  • The roles of Walter and Donny were written with Goodman and Buscemi in mind.
  • The story was inspired by the works of Raymond Chandler, but set in modern day Los Angeles.
  • The dream bowling sequence was inspired by the films of Busby Berkeley.
  • The Dude says his favorite word, "man", 147 times in the film.
  • The word "dude" is heard 160 times in the film.
  • The "F" word and its many variations are heard almost 300 times in the film. 
  • When the film was released in 1998, it met with mixed reviews and an anemic box office performance. Since then it has attained cult status. Over the years, in addition to its growing popularity it also spawned Lebowski Fest and Dudeism.
  • T-Bone Burnett, who served as music consultant on the film, suggested The Dude's loathing of The Eagles, which Burnett shared. Later, Jeff Bridges was confronted at a party by an unhappy Glenn Frey.
  • The Dude's apartment is located at 606 Venezia Avenue in Venice, CA. The Big Lebowski's mansion is located at 10231 Charing Cross Road (just off Sunset Boulevard) in Los Angeles (exteriors) and Greystone Mansion at 905 Loma Vista Road (just off Doheny Road) in Beverly Hills (interiors). 
  • The Ralphs grocery store where we first see The Dude is located on Huntington Drive in South Pasadena, although its street address is 1745 Garfield Avenue (the cross street). I shopped there a few times while living in Arcadia. Nice store.
  • The bowling scenes were filmed at Hollywood Star Lanes in East Hollywood. The bowling alley has since been torn down and replaced by an elementary school.
  • The intersection where The Dude was kicked out of the taxi is Jefferson and Dusquene in Culver City.

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