7.6/10
97,214
444 user 201 critic

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

Trailer
1:36 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
A laconic, chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning, but his plan goes terribly wrong.

Directors:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Reviews
Popularity
4,399 ( 4)

A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

Dude, let's go bowling

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 24 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Barton Fink (1991)
Comedy | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

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

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis
Blood Simple (1984)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Tom Regan, an advisor to a Prohibition-era crime boss, tries to keep the peace between warring mobs but gets caught in divided loyalties.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A naive business graduate is installed as president of a manufacturing company as part of a stock scam.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Tim Robbins, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family's quintuplets, their lives become more complicated than they anticipated.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson
A Serious Man (2009)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Larry Gopnik, a Midwestern physics teacher, watches his life unravel over multiple sudden incidents. Though seeking meaning and answers amidst his turmoils, he seems to keep sinking.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick
Adventure | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In the deep south during the 1930s, three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A disk containing mysterious information from a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous and daft gym employees who attempt to sell it.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, George Clooney
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A beautiful gold digger matches wits with a shrewd Beverly Hills divorce lawyer who is increasingly attracted to her.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich
Comedy | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

An eccentric, if not charming Southern professor and his crew pose as a classical ensemble in order to rob a casino, all under the nose of his unsuspecting but sharp old landlady.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Stars: Tom Hanks, Marlon Wayans, Irma P. Hall
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Bob Thornton ... Ed Crane
Frances McDormand ... Doris Crane
Michael Badalucco ... Frank
James Gandolfini ... Big Dave Brewster
Katherine Borowitz ... Ann Nirdlinger Brewster
Jon Polito ... Creighton Tolliver
Scarlett Johansson ... Birdy Abundas
Richard Jenkins ... Walter Abundas
Tony Shalhoub ... Freddy Riedenschneider
Christopher Kriesa ... Officer Persky
Brian Haley ... Officer Krebs
Jack McGee ... P.I. Burns
Gregg Binkley ... New Man
Alan Fudge ... Dr. Diedrickson
Lilyan Chauvin ... Medium
Edit

Storyline

1949, Santa Rosa, California. A laconic, chain-smoking barber with fallen arches tells a story of a man trying to escape a humdrum life. It's a tale of suspected adultery, blackmail, foul play, death, Sacramento city slickers, racial slurs, invented war heroics, shaved legs, a gamine piano player, aliens, and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Ed Crane cuts hair in his in-law's shop; his wife drinks and may be having an affair with her boss, Big Dave, who has $10,000 to invest in a second department store. Ed gets wind of a chance to make money in dry cleaning. Blackmail and investment are his opportunity to be more than a man no one notices. Settle in the chair and listen. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The last thing on his mind is murder.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Italian | French

Release Date:

16 November 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Barber Project See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£419,609 (United Kingdom), 28 October 2001, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$664,404, 4 November 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,494,849, 24 February 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Though the movie's title and black and white format conjures up Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), the setting of this film in quiet Santa Rosa California, and the pubescent character Birdy Abundas seem to have been inspired by Hitchcock's other film Shadow of a Doubt (1943). See more »

Goofs

The Crane automobile is a two-door sedan, but the flying car in the slow-motion accident scene is a coupe. Also, the rolling hubcap is not original to that vehicle. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ed Crane: Yeah, I worked in a barbershop, but I never considered myself a barber. I stumbled into it. Or married into it, more precisely.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening titles cast shadows on the wall as if they are real. See more »

Alternate Versions

Though original intended to be released in black and white, the movie was originally shot in color. Some countries released the movie in color (e.g. Japan) for marketing reasons. Both versions are released on home media. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Strictly Background (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Three O'Clock in the Morning
(1922)
Music by Julián Robledo (as Julian Robkedo)
Lyrics by Dolly Morse (as Theodora Morse)
Published by EMI Feist Music, Inc. and Bienstock Publishing Company
o/b/o Redwood Music Ltd.
Performed Hugo Peretti (as Hugo) & Luigi Creatore (as Luigi)
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label, a unit of BMG Entertainment
Under license from BMG Special Markets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A beautifully shot "Film Noir" in black and white but with colorful characters
16 May 2002 | by auberusSee all my reviews

The 2002 Cohen brothers film is a delight. "The Man Who Wasn't There" combines everything I like in the Coen brother's unique way of telling a story. From the comic of the situation witnessed in the famous "O Brother Where Art Though" (2000) to the originality of the scenario seen in "Barton Fink" (1991), not to mention the singularity of the characters and their lack of control over the situation in the excellent "Fargo" (1996), all those "hints" have been gathered to built this well thought story. Joel and Ethan directed and wrote this picture about a bored and boring chain-smoking barber admirably played by Billy Bob Thornton (best role for this under-rated actor)who blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning. As you sense the plan goes terribly wrong. I believe this story is a pretext to show us how little is our grip on the reality of our lives. And to demonstrate how justice easily becomes a comico-pathetic masquarade when given by men. On the contrary true Justice eventually lies in the wrinkles of men's destiny. As a conclusion you are better off expecting a landing of an alien spaceship than a fair and clear trial in a court of law. Whether we agree or not to this demonstration, it does not take away the pleasure of watching these terrific actors putting into play the original and dark scenario of the two brothers. Billy Bob Thornton is a master portraying to perfection Ed Crane (the laconic barber). Since Dead Man (1995) I don't recall a lot of movies where directors have capitalized on his enormous talent. Frances McDormand (Doris Crane) is as usual fantastic. We remember her in Wonder Boys (2000) and of course as the sheriff in Fargo (1996). Here she plays wonderfully the barber's wife going from bitterness to sorrow. Some characters can be seen as "cliche" like Freddy Riedenschneider the lawyer played by the good Tony Shalhoub, however they are all enjoyable to watch: James Gandolfini is terrific as "Big Dave" and Jon Polito very colorful as Creighton Tolliver, not to forget the very talkative and sincere Michael Badalucco as Franck Raffo or the great job done by Scarlett Johansson in the role of Rachael 'Birdy' Abundas the not very straight and quiet adolescent you would expect. The Black and White picture is more an artistic exploration from the Coen brothers and I don't think has anything to do with the chosen period (late 40's). However the black and white picture is very well shot by Roger Deakins and impose tremendously well Billy Bob Thornton's character and therefore never becomes a burden for the audience. "The Man Who Wasn't There" does not belong to any genre in particular. The Movie is made of a myriads of genres and characters that the Coen brothers have managed to master throughout their career of story tellers. The movie is a "film Noir" but not only, it is a dark comedy but not only, it is a light thriller but not only, it is shot in black and white but still have colorful characters, it tells a simple story of a laconic barber but there is more to it, eventually Justice will prevail but not the way we think it will. In the end it is a unique movie and in times where everything seems to look the same this movie becomes a true jewel.


9 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 444 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed