14 Things You Might Not Know About The Big Lebowski
April 21, 2010
Written by brettf123
Not all movies stand the test of time. Viewers have the memory span of goldfish and what’s hot today may soon be forgotten. Cult classics, on the other hand, often become immortal. The Big Lebowski (1998) is such a film. With its quotable lines, zany characters, and dialogue that somehow remains funny no matter how many times you see it, there’s a reason why it’s still being talked about after all these years. As with most cult classics, there are a few hidden quirks in the film that evade even some of its die hard devotees. Also, there are many interesting ways in which fans continue to celebrate the film. After researching both, here is our list of 14 things you might not know about The Big Lebowski.
As with cult classics such as Troll 2 (1990) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), The Big Lebowski spawned a film festival of its own. Lebowski Fest, which travels accross the country, started in Louisville in 2002 and is currently in its eighth consecutive year. Activities at the event include bowling, costume contests, and trivia. Jeff Bridges, who played “The Dude,” attended one of the events in Los Angeles. The British equivalent to the American festival is called “The Dude Abides” and is held in London.
Reference in Burn After Reading (2008)
A reference to The Big Lebowski can be found in a later Coen Brothers’ film, Burn After Reading (2008). In the scene where Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) blackmails Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich), he’s about to shout, “Where is the money, Lebowski!?” before getting punched in the face. A similar shout out can be found in The Big Lebowski. Walter (John Goodman) constantly tells Donny (Steve Buscemi) to “Shut the fuck up!” In the Coen Brothers’ previous film, Fargo (1996), Buscemi’s character wouldn’t stop talking.
The British newspaper, The Independent, credits Lebowski’s popularity, in part, to the influence of the Internet. If not for the web, fans might not have realized that they weren’t alone in their Lebowski worship. According to the paper, the number one comment on lebowskifest.com is, “I’m so happy to find others like me,” or comments of a similar nature.
Lebowski Drinking Game
Different variations exist for this. One of the most memorable and least complicated is to take a drink whenever The Dude does. If he takes a marijuana hit, you do likewise. Good luck making it through.
John Goodman’s acerbic character, Walter Sobchak, was inspired by filmmaker John Milius, who has a love of guns. Screenwriter Lewis Abernathy was another source of inspiration for Walter, and even made an appearance at the Texas Lebowski Fest in Austin.
Asia Carrera Cameo
Former porn-star Asia Carrera makes a brief cameo appearance as one of Bunny’s (Tara Reid) cast mates in the adult movie, LogJammin’.
Jeff Bridge’s character (The Dude) was inspired by film producer and political activist Jeff Dowd, a friend of the Coen Brothers. Dowd liked to drink White Russians and had a similar moniker. The other source of inspiration came from a Vietnam War veteran, Pete Exine, who had a rug which really “tied the room together.” Several of his personal stories were taken by the Coen Brothers wholesale. He had his car stolen by a high school student and found it impounded with an 8th grader’s homework on the floor.
According to Julianne Moore, her character, Maude, was inspired by the likes of artist Carolee Schneemann who liked to work naked from a swing. Yoko Ono was another source of inspiration. This isn’t surprising given her peculiar nature.
The movie’s overall narrative structure was influence by the detective fiction of Raymond Chandler. As Ethan Coen said, “We wanted something that would generate a certain narrative feeling – like a modern Raymond Chandler story, and that’s why it had to be set in Los Angeles … We wanted to have a narrative flow, a story that moves like a Chandler book through different parts of town and different social classes.”
The Big Lebowski has its share of literature devoted to the film’s production as well as critical analysis. Some examples include I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski, The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, and The Year’s Work in Lebowski Studies.
The Big Lebowski has spawned its own documentary titled The Achievers: The Story of the Lebowski Fans. The film tries to better understand why Lebowski has made such a splash. Former philosophy student, Eddie Chung, takes the helm and offers a deep take on the cult hit’s impact. Not bad for a film that lasted only 6 weeks in theaters.
According to IMDB, the f-word and its variations are used 294 times, and “dude” is said 161 times. The Dude also utters “man” 147 times, around 1.5 times per minute. Some fans have too much time on their hands.
Since it takes place in Los Angeles, several local landmarks are shown throughout the movie. The bowling alley in the film was formerly the Holly Star Lanes in Santa Monica and the 101 Freeway exit ramp even makes an appearance. The fast food chain featured, In ‘n Out Burger, is indigenous to Southern California. And let’s not forget The Dude’s favorite supermarket chain, Ralphs.
The Dude’s apartment, located in Venice, has become somewhat of a landmark of its own. But if you pay a visit, don’t knock on the door. It’s a private residence, man.
September 11th Prediction?
At the beginning of the film, The Dude stops at a Ralph’s supermarket to pick up some cream for his White Russians. Although the item is less than a dollar, The Dude is forced to write a check. The check is dated, September 11th, 1991, exactly ten years to the day of the World Trade Center attacks. What makes the scene even more peculiar is that while The Dude is writing the check, President Bush (41) can be seen on television discussing tensions in the Middle East while uttering the phrase, “This aggression will not stand.” Foreshadowing? Probably not. But it is an odd coincidence.
Bonus: What do you mean by 420