Listen to our The Big Lebowski episode on:
- Google Play
- Player FM
- Pocket Casts
As with many Coen Brothers movies, the plot of The Big Lebowski is both meticulously crafted and almost completely irrelevant. At heart the story is classic noir set-up; the mistaken identity, the kidnapped trophy bride, the outsider detective, the extensive cast of eccentric suspects. The key difference is that rather than a hard-bitten gumshoe in the tradition of Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum, we see the plot unfold through the eyes of a paunchy middle-aged slacker who refers to himself as ‘The Dude’.
Jeff Bridges delivers a career-defining performance in the movie, which was apparently so close to his own personality that he wondered aloud whether The Coen Brothers had known him in college. He’s also working with a perfect comic foil in the shape of John Goodman, a Coen Brothers regular who tears into the role of tightly-wound Vietnam veteran Walter Sobchak. The joy of following these two hopelessly out-of-their-depth oddballs careening through the film far outweighs any requirement to follow the endlessly twisting story.
And then there’s Donny. Poor, sweet out-of-his-element Donny. As played by Steve Buscemi with flawless hangdog bewilderment, he’s the tragic heart and soul of the movie – perennially abused and ignored by his friends and ultimately felled by a heart attack in a bowling alley car park. He’s even robbed of dignity in death, as an ill-advised attempt to spread his ashes over a cliff end with him blowing straight back into the faces of his former friends.
Mike Burton from Genuine Chit Chat joined us this week to discuss The Big Lebowski and to help us pitch some sequel ideas. With no pre-planning, it turned out that all three of us had gravitated towards Donny’s sad story, and in three very different ways attempted to restore a little bit of dignity to the character. Whether seeking vengeance from beyond the grave or revealing his hidden depths via a previously unseen journal, we like to think we restored some justice. Goodnight, sweet prince…
This week’s episode of Beyond The Box Set is available on all good podcasting platforms via the links at the top of this blog post, or by searching ‘Beyond The Box Set’. If you enjoy the show please hit subscribe for a new episode every Friday morning, and consider leaving us a review if you want to really make us feel good. You can also find additional bonus content for as little as $2 a month by supporting us on Patreon, and we have exclusive merchandise available on Teepublic.
Next week, we’ll be revisiting another timeless 90s classic featuring one of the great comic actors of the era. Until then, stay cool…