Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Dude Abides

Found this wonderful little segment from American Masters.  It seems Jeff Bridges has become almost as big a cultural institution as has his character from The Big Lebowski.   The shop, known as The Little Lebowski no doubt benefited greatly from his visit, but I imagine had no trouble attracting fans before.

For better or worse, The Big Lebowski has become the Coen Brothers signature piece of work.  They have done better films, but none more memorable, or as entertaining as this bittersweet take on the American dream.  In one way or another all their films seems to be a study of the American dream, from Great Depression Americana in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? to growing up Jewish in A Serious Man.  There is something Rothian about their films, for lack of a better description, which draws me back to them time and again.

I think their best film remains Barton Fink, which gives a wonderful period look at a budding Hollywood screenwriter, and the pact he makes with the devil.   In addition to John Turturro's great performance, John Mahoney is wonderful as a drunken caricature of William Faulkner.

Bridges film career dates back to The Last Picture Show, in which he played Duane Jackson, a good ol' East Texas boy with his battered old pickup truck and dating the prettiest girl in town, before going off to the Korean War.  He's enjoyed a lot of great roles over the years, but he is now known principally for his role as the Dude.

There is something about the Dude that is exceedingly hard to resist. I found it amusing that Bridges felt a few qualms about playing the role, and asked his young daughters for their opinion at the time he was first approached by the Coen Brothers, who apparently created the character explicitly for him.  I think he had little idea this film would garner such a grip on so many persons' imaginations.

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