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The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

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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
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Popularity
2,920 ( 648)

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 »

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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
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | Italian | French

Release Date:

16 November 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Barber Project See more »

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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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Billy Bob Thornton jokingly made it look like Ed Crane had an erection in one of the scenes where he's watching Birdy Abundas playing the piano. Only one of the prop guys noticed during production. When the Coen Brothers later found out, they made it clear that Ed would not be aroused in the scene. See more »

Goofs

On at least one print the entire first reel is in color instead of black and white. (The movie was filmed in color, then printed in black and white by special processing.) 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

Special thanks to citizens and merchants of Orange, CA and The Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood - City of Pasadena, CA. 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

References Fargo (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

The Marriage of Figaro
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Deutsche Oper Berlin
Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophone GmbH, Hamburg
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
I'm always there when they screen it
23 March 2007 | by WeredeguSee all my reviews

Besides being great stuff for film maniacs who like to debate the technical aspects, the cinematography or the artistic ideas and influences in it, 'The Man Who Wasn't There' is also a great film. One of my all-time favorites. The sort of film where the best possible choice of cast plays even the most insignificant walk-on role. The Coens' signature in there: being visually very conscious, especially for their film noir venture, they must have spent a huge amount of time to find the best possible faces for every single shot. Not necessary to waste words on how well they did in their choices for the lead roles. Fortunately these 'faces' they collected can also act, everyone does incredibly well here.

'The Man Who Wasn't There' has a slowly developing story, that at first viewing may require your patience a little bit. But the second and third viewings and so on will be a lot smoother... I have seen the film about five or six times already. There's this weird TV channel that screens it just about every other week and I seem to always happen to be in front of the screen at the time, by mere chance. And I never zap away, I enjoy all the details more and more, and I feel the gloating that's there in the very cold, cruel humor of the film, as well as the saddening feeling it accumulates into, as you continue watching people acting as mere unidentified flying objects in the others' life, just as strongly as the first time.


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