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Barton Fink (1991)

2:14 | Trailer
A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood.


Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)


Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
3,402 ( 500)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Turturro ... Barton Fink
John Goodman ... Charlie Meadows
Judy Davis ... Audrey Taylor
Michael Lerner ... Jack Lipnick
John Mahoney ... W.P. Mayhew
Tony Shalhoub ... Ben Geisler
Jon Polito ... Lou Breeze
Steve Buscemi ... Chet
David Warrilow David Warrilow ... Garland Stanford
Richard Portnow ... Detective Mastrionotti
Christopher Murney ... Detective Deutsch
I.M. Hobson I.M. Hobson ... Derek
Meagen Fay ... Poppy Carnahan (as Megan Faye)
Lance Davis ... Richard St. Claire
Harry Bugin Harry Bugin ... Pete
Learn more

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In 1941, New York intellectual playwright Barton Fink comes to Hollywood to write a Wallace Beery wrestling picture. Staying in the eerie Hotel Earle, Barton develops severe writer's block. His neighbor, jovial insurance salesman Charlie Meadows, tries to help, but Barton continues to struggle as a bizarre sequence of events distracts him even further from his task. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Between Heaven and Hell There's Always Hollywood! See more »


Comedy | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some scenes of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The first film to win all three major awards (Palme D'or, Best Director, and Best Actor) at the Cannes Film Festival. Also, it was unanimously chosen for the Palme D'or. See more »


The hand that Chet uses to stop the bell ringing. See more »


Charlie Meadows: Look upon me! I'll show you the life of the mind!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The 20th Century Fox logo appears over silence; the "fanfare" is not played. See more »


Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Coen Brothers Movies (2014) See more »


Old Black Joe
aka "Poor Old Joe"
Written by Stephen Foster
Sung by Mayhew when he is drunk
See more »

User Reviews

Top movies of the decade? The Thin Red Line, Pulp Fiction, Fargo, Quiz Show, Ed Wood, Gettysburg and BARTON FINK
6 August 2000 | by CAM-32See all my reviews

*Read this review only if you've seen Barton Fink and want to read analysis, not if your thinking of seeing the movie.

First of all, Barton Fink is some serious brain candy. There are so many issues and so many symbols in this movie that are great to discuss. To name a few big ones, think companionship, jealousy, damnation, fascism, racism, vigilantism, interventionism, pretentiousness, creativity, the right to be a jerk, corporate power and dumb Hollywood style all rolled into a movie that IS writer's block. Like the other Coen brother's movies, there is an absolutely unique feel to the movie, created mostly by fabulous imagery and a handful of great characters. The acting is about the best I've ever seen in a movie. The cast has a lot of 'hey I've seen that guy' guys who are all awesome. They include:

John Turturro - Is there a better actor in the business? No. The Coen brothers and Spike Lee seem to know this, when will the Academy? Turturro carries the movie as Barton Fink, there's amazing depth to his expressions. I love his trance, sort of a "what the hell happened" expression during the scenes on the beach and beside the pool... does the serenity of water signify something about that... maybe a serenity he desires yet would kill his writing? Who knows, there's A LOT to think about in this movie.

Michael Lerner - This guy was fabulous as Lipnick, the studio boss. While his long, loud, chatty lines, are extremely funny but not particularly original, his praise of Barton is genius, hitting a ridiculous high that is absolutely hysterical. Like the other characters, listen carefully to his lines, (if you're not laughing too hard), the second time you see the movie you'll undoubtedly notice something very funny about the line, "Never heard of it. Let's move him to the Grand, or the Wilshire, or hell, he can stay at my place."

Tony Shaloub - He's a great actor and he shows it here. He's a stressed out producer who seems to be the last one to know what movies he's producing. He has a couple great lines.

John Mahoney - He was great in Eight Men Out and Frasier, and he's good in this movie too as a drunk southern writer (Faulkner?) who is somewhat belligerent but at the same time very lofty and whimsical, explaining that he writes simply because he loves to create, the antithesis of Barton's belief that a writer must have pain. It's classic how Barton very quickly turns from admiring him so much to thinking he's a son of a bitch.

Steve Buscemi - He is the perfect cast as Chet (Charon?) the friendly but very eerie hotel clerk. The hotel is already quite bizarre with its odd wallpaper and long empty hallways and Buscemi is the perfect complement to it.

John Goodman - He truly elevates this movie to greatness. His performance was perfect. He captures the essence of the everyman with astounding detail. In his handful of simple scenes with Turturro he is so convincing and genuine that his truth is hard to stomach, could the everyday man slip into evil so easily (Nazism?) and still be such a nice guy? The transition from the very authentic real life feel of the movie to the ridiculous and allegorical conclusion follows Goodman, and he absolutely makes it happen. The transition is jarring at first, but when you think back on it, it makes perfect sense and there are many clues that lead up to it. It is a fantastic finale to an all-time great movie.

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Release Date:

21 August 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Barton Fink See more »


Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$268,561, 25 August 1991

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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