The Big Lebowski (1998)
Celebrating 30 Years of Summer Classics on the Big Screen!
When the Coen brothers made their early homages to hardboiled detective fiction (Blood Simple as James M. Cain homage and Miller’s Crossing as Dashiell Hammett pastiche), they played them mostly straight — at least by Coen standards. But when they got to Raymond Chandler, they decided to… go a different direction.
The Big Lebowski, very vaguely inspired by The Big Sleep, was the Coens’ loosest, loopiest film to date, a stoner crime comedy about bowling, California, Vietnam, and the critical importance of thoughtful interior design. Chandler himself once explained the difference between the classic murder mystery and the hardboiled genre he’d helped invent: in the former, the plot — the careful alignment of details that enabled the mystery to be solved in-fiction by the characters or out in the real world, by the reader — was paramount, while in the latter, “the scene outranked the plot, in the sense that a good plot was one that made good scenes.” Trippy. Unclear whether the Coens ever read this analysis, but they surely embraced its spirit in the The Big Lebowski.
Stick around after each screening for a FREE post-show Film Talk audience discussion and Q&A with retired University of South Florida film professor Harriet Deer on Sunday and with retired Tampa Bay Times film critic Steve Persall on Thursday.
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The Summer Classics movie series is presented by Bank of America. Additional support is provided by The University of Tampa and WEDU-PBS.