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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

The Big Lebowski (1998) ft. Shane Rogers


Guest: Shane Rogers, Stand-Up Comedian (shanerogers.net) and Host of Midnight Facts for Insomniacs


Cast:

  • Joel Coen, Director/Writer

  • Ethan Coen, Producer/Writer

  • Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski

  • John Goodman as Walter Sobchak

  • Julianne Moore as Maude Lebowski

  • Steve Buscemi as Donny Kerabatsos

  • David Huddleston as Jeffrey "The Big" Lebowski

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Brandt

  • Tara Reid as Bunny Lebowski

  • John Turturro as Jesus Quintana

  • Sam Elliott as The Stranger

  • David Thewlis as Knox Harrington

  • Ben Gazzara as Jackie Treehorn

  • Peter Stormare as Uli Kunkel/Karl Hungus

  • Torsten Voges as Franz

  • Flea as Kieffer

*Recognition:

  • After originally opening at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, The Big Lebowski was released on March 6, 1998. It would gross a rough total of $46 million against a budget of $15 million.

  • The Big Lebowski received mixed reviews at the time of its release. However, over time, reviews have become largely positive, and the film has become a cult favorite, noted for its eccentric characters, comedic dream sequences, idiosyncratic dialogue, and eclectic soundtrack.

  • Due to its cult status, ardent fans of the film call themselves "achievers", and an annual festival, Lebowski Fest, began in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, in 2002 with 150 fans showing up, and has since expanded to several other cities. The festival's main event each year is a night of unlimited bowling with various contests including costume, trivia, hardest- and farthest-traveled contests. Held over a weekend, events typically include a pre-fest party with bands the night before the bowling event as well as a day-long outdoor party with bands, vendor booths and games. Various celebrities from the film have attended some of the events, including Jeff Bridges who attended the Los Angeles event. The British equivalent, inspired by Lebowski Fest, is known as The Dude Abides and is held in London.

  • Dudeism, a religion devoted largely to spreading the philosophy and lifestyle of the film's main character, was founded in 2005. Also known as The Church of the Latter-Day Dude (a name parody of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), the organization has ordained over 220,000 "Dudeist Priests" all over the world via its website.

  • Entertainment Weekly ranked it 8th on their Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years list. The film was also ranked No. 34 on their list of "The Top 50 Cult Films" and ranked No. 15 on the magazine's "The Cult 25: The Essential Left-Field Movie Hits Since '83" list. In addition, the magazine also ranked The Dude No. 14 in their "The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years" poll.

  • Empire magazine ranked Walter Sobchak No. 49 and the Dude No. 7 in their "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters" poll. Roger Ebert added The Big Lebowski to his list of "Great Movies" in March 2010.

  • In 2014, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

  • A spin-off, titled The Jesus Rolls, was released in 2020, with Turturro reprising his role and also serving as writer and director.

  • The Big Lebowski currently holds a 79% among critics on RT, a 71 score on Metacritic, and 4.1 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

What is this movie about/The Elevator Pitch: Like all Coen brothers crime movies, I believe they are obsessed with showing us the real nihilistic nature of crime in America that is often committed by rather stupid and meaningless individuals.


Plot Summary: Jeff Lebowski “the Dude” (Jeff Brides) lives a care-free life of pot smoking and bowling when he becomes the victim of mistaken identity. When home invaders realize their mistake, they leave the Dude’s apartment, but not before urinating on his living room rug. At the urging of his friends, Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and Donny Kerabatsos (Steve Buscemi), he goes to see his wealthy namesake to get a replacement for his rug. The Dude soon finds himself embroiled in a story of extortion, double-cross, deception, embezzlement, and sex. Will the Dude be able to free himself from this mess and get back to the bowling alley?


Did You Know:

  • In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, John Goodman stated that The Dude referring to The Big Lebowski as a "human paraquat" was one of the only improvised lines to make it into the final film. Virtually every other line, including every "man" and "dude", was scripted.

  • Before filming a scene, Jeff Bridges would frequently ask the Coen brothers "Did the Dude burn one on the way over?" If they said he had, he would rub his knuckles in his eyes before doing a take to make his eyes appear bloodshot.

  • A lot of the Dude's clothes in the movie were Jeff Bridges's own clothes, including his Jellies sandals, which he still owns and uses to this day.

  • In an early draft of the script, The Dude's source of income was revealed. He was an heir to the inventor of the Rubik's Cube, which would have also made him Hungarian in turn. It was Joel Coen's idea to drop this and never say.

  • In a 2013 interview with Terry Gross, Joel Coen told a story about having recently been at a movie theater in San Francisco, California, where they saw a booth displaying Lebowski posters. Ethan Coen asked the teenage girl there what was going on, and she proceeded to tell him about the theater's nightly screenings of the movie. She said that people come dressed in costumes, "and you should come and you'll like it, it's fun." She had no idea that the two men had made the movie.

  • T Bone Burnett acted as music consultant for the movie, and helped Joel Coen and Ethan Coen establish the Dude's taste in music. Burnett selected many of the existing songs in the movie, and also suggested the Dude's hatred towards Eagles (Burnett himself is not a fan either). One of the band's members, Glenn Frey, was reportedly so dismayed about this that he once even angrily confronted Jeff Bridges when they met at a party.

  • In the "clean" version, for television broadcast, the famous line "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!" was changed to "This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!" It's frequently cited as one of the most "creative" edits made for a film to be aired on television.

Best Performance: Joel and Ethan Coen (Writers)/John Goodman (Walter)/Jeff Bridges (Dude)

Best Secondary Performance: John Goodman (Walter)/Jeff Bridges (Dude)

Most Charismatic Award: Jeff Bridges (Dude)/John Goodman (Walter)/John Turturro (Jesus)/David Huddleston (Big Lebowski)

Best Scene:

  • Cold Open

  • The Big Lebowski

  • Over the Line

  • Ransom Goes Haywire

  • Dream Sequence #1

  • Maude Lebowski

  • Confronting Larry Sellers

  • Jackie Treehorn

  • Dream Sequence #2

  • Showdown of the Lebowskis

  • Square-Off with the Nihilists

  • Donny's Funeral

Favorite Scene: Over the Line/Jackie Treehorn/Jesus

Most Indelible Moment: The Dude/Dream Sequence #2


In Memorium:

  • Walter Mirisch, 101, American film producer (In the Heat of the Night, Midway, The Hawaiians), Oscar winner (1967) and former President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

  • Michael Blackwood, 88, American documentary filmmaker, directed over 150 films during his career.

  • Burny Mattinson, 87, American animator (The Great Mouse Detective, Robin Hood) and screenwriter (Beauty and the Beast). Longest serving employee of the Walt Disney Company and would have been the first to celebrate 70 years in June 2023.

  • Jay Weston, 93, American film producer (Lady Sings the Blues, Buddy Buddy)

  • Ted Donaldson, 89, American actor (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Adventures of Rusty, Father Knows Best* (Radio version))

  • Sara Lane, 73, American actress (The Virginian, I Saw What You Did)

  • Gary Rossington, 71, American Hall of Fame guitarist (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rossington Collins Band), last surviving member of the original Lynyrd Skynyrd band.

  • Tom Sizemore, 61, American actor (Natural Born Killers, Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, and Heat).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

The Dude: [repeated line by The Dude and others] That rug really tied the room together.


Walter Sobchak: You're out of your element, Donny.


Blond Treehorn Thug: [holding up a bowling ball] What the fuck is this?

The Dude: Obviously you're not a golfer.


Walter Sobchak: [shouted repeatedly while smashing a car with a crow bar] This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!


The Dude: Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not "Mr. Lebowski". You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.


Walter Sobchak: Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.


Walter Sobchak: You want a toe? I can get you a toe, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don't wanna know about it, believe me.

The Dude: Yeah, but Walter...

Walter Sobchak: Hell, I can get you a toe by 3 o'clock this afternoon... with nail polish. These fucking amateurs...


The Dude: Walter, I love you, but sooner or later, you're going to have to face the fact you're a goddamn moron.


Walter Sobchak: Shut the fuck up, Donny.


Walter Sobchak: What the fuck are you talking about? The chinaman is not the issue here, Dude. I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line, you DO NOT... Also, Dude, "chinaman" is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.


The Dude: God damn you Walter! You fuckin' asshole! Everything's a fuckin' travesty with you, man! And what was all that shit about Vietnam? What the FUCK, has anything got to do with Vietnam? What the fuck are you talking about?


The Big Lebowski: Are you employed, sir?

The Dude: Employed?

The Big Lebowski: You don't go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?

The Dude: Is this a... what day is this?

The Big Lebowski: Well, I do work sir, so if you don't mind...

The Dude: I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand, man.


The Stranger: The Dude Abides...


Maude Lebowski: What do you do for recreation?

The Dude: Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.


The Dude: Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!


Maude Lebowski: Yes, our Little Urban Achievers, and proud we are of all of them.


The Stranger: Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.


Bunny Lebowski: I'll suck your cock for a thousand dollars.

Brandt: Ah hahahahaha! Wonderful woman. We're all, we're all very fond of her. Very free-spirited.

Bunny Lebowski: Brandt can't watch, though, or he has to pay a hundred.

Brandt: Ah haha. That's marvelous.

The Dude: Uh, I'm just gonna go find a cash machine.


Walter Sobchak: Fuck it, Dude, let's go bowling.


Walter Sobchak: [shouting] Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.67

Impact/Significance: 5.67

Novelty: 9

Classic-ness: 9.33

Rewatchability: 8.67

Audience Score: 8.95 (86% Google, 93% RT)

Total: 50.29


Remaining Questions:

  • What was the purpose of Donny's death story-wise?

  • How is Bunny really tied to the Nihilists?

  • If the Big Lebowski was trying to frame the Dude for theft, why didn't he call the cops to have him arrested?

  • Did Maude pay the Dude for recovering the money?

  • Did Walter actually serve in Vietnam?

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