The Big Lebowski

Powerful Essays
Mike Preston
Lisa Hemminger
Art is Film
26 February 2010
“All the Dude ever wanted was his rug back”

To the casual viewer The Big Lebowski, a 1998 film written by film maker brothers Ethan and Joel Coen and directed by Joel, would appear to be a comedy rip off of the 1940’s Los Angeles detective film The Big Sleep by Howard Hawks. It features a hippie dropout from the seventies named “the Dude” (Jeff Bridges) who gets caught up with his bowler buddies Walter (John Goodman) and Donny (Steve Buscemi) in a case of mistaken identity and a search for a presumed kidnap victim. Like Thornhill (Cary Grant) in North by Northwest he becomes a reluctant detective. However, The Dude is the polar opposite of the suave and resourceful Thornhill because he is verbally challenged, bumbling, and unemployed. I will present information that despite the film’s initial lukewarm reception by critics and audiences alike, it should be considered a classic like other movies that were initially overlooked including Annie Hall and North by Northwest. I will make the argument that because of the zany LA based characters, memorable dialogue, innovative narration, creative film elements, and entertaining music and dance; that it is a neo-noir classic that finds more fans as time marches on. Beyond that I will discuss the ideology on greed and social classes that run through the film. In The Big Lebowski the Coen brothers wanted to explore Los Angeles stereotypes. They had successfully mined characters from their mid-western (Minnesota) roots for their previous Oscar winning independent film Fargo. The Coen’s needed a change of pace form the dark humor and graphic violence of Fargo. The brothers drew from their real life stoner friend Jeff Dowd, who actually called himself the Dude, for the story’s protagonist. Walter, Dude’s odd couple friend and a Vietnam veteran with a military haircut and camouflage attire, was based partly on their uncle Peter, also a Vietnam veteran and rug



Cited: (Alfred Hitchcock 2010)"Alfred Hitchcock." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 Feb. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2010 (Belth Alex Strikes and Gutters: A Year with the Coen Brothers )Belth, Alex. Strikes and Gutters: A Year with the Coen Brothers. 24 Feb. 2010 . (Big Lebowski 2010)"The Big Lebowski." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 20 Feb. 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2010 (Entertainment Weekly Collis Clark Icon Lives On ' 'The Big Lebowski ' ' 's lasting legacy -- Why DVD releases, Lebowski fests, and cartoon imitations keep the 'Dude ' relevant today 2008414)Entertainment Weekly, and Clark Collis. "An Icon Lives On ' 'The Big Lebowski ' ' 's lasting legacy -- Why DVD releases, Lebowski fests, and cartoon imitations keep the 'Dude ' relevant today." N.p., 14 Apr. 2008. Web. 24 Feb. 2010. . (Levine Josh Coen brothers: the story of two American filmmakers 2000)Levine, Josh. The Coen brothers: the story of two American filmmakers. Toronto: ECW P, 2000. National University. Web. 24 Feb. 2010. . (Nathan Ian MY REVIEW 19990414)Nathan, Ian. "MY REVIEW." The Movies of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen:"You know, for the kids". N.p., 14 Apr. 1999. Web. 25 Feb. 2010. . (North By Northwest DVD Bonus North By Northwest )North By Northwest DVD Bonus. "North By Northwest." (ONE HUNDRED + 00/100 greatest movie characters )"100 greatest movie characters." Empireonline.com. . Empire Magazine. 25 Feb. 2010 . (Palopoli Steve Five Things You Didn 't Know About 'The Big Lebowski ' 2002 725)Palopoli , Steve. Five Things You Didn 't Know About 'The Big Lebowski ' . 25 July 2002 . 24 Feb. 2010 . (The Big Lebowski Big Lebowski 1998)The Dude. The Big Lebowski. Dir. Joel Coen. 1998. Film.

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