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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
4,216 ( 167)

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
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 »
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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

The title is taken from the William Hughes Mearns poem "Antigonish". See more »

Goofs

When Ed lets himself in at Nirdlingers, he unlocks and opens the door on the right side. But when he leaves, he opens the door to the left. That door would have locks at the top and/or bottom that hold it closed even with the deadbolt unlocked and they can only be released from the inside (the order is you unlock the deadbolt, go inside and then release those locks so both doors swing free.) There would have been no reason for Ed to have unlocked those as well, since he wasn't opening the store for business, so that door should not have been able to be opened. 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 The Godfather (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 (Pathetique)
(1799)
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Oh the Coen Brothers, how we cant live without you...
23 June 2002 | by edcraneSee all my reviews

This newest film by the Coen brothers is a masterpiece by all standards in my opinion. Once again the Coens have succeeded in doing what they have done in all 8 of their previous movies, making a simple story more interesting than you could ever imagine possible!

Billy Bob Thornton adds to the noir atmosphere with his superb emotionless portrayal of the barber (of the title) Ed Crane. Essays could be written just on the way he smokes his cigarette! Of course the Coens have recalled other faces from their little black book of actors-we'll-use-again-in-some-small-part. Jon Polito is truly very annoying (in a good way) in his role as someone trying to sell a dry cleaning idea to Thornton (and you never thought dry cleaning could be interesting?). Whereas Tony Shalhoub is a humorous addition as the ridiculously confusing attorney. How can we also forget Mrs Joel Coen, aka Frances McDormand. As Thorntons wife she excels and towards the end shows real emotion and acting prowess as seen previously in Fargo and Blood Simple.

The fact that this film was shot in black and white is a first for the Coens and adds a 1940's atmosphere that no color film could do. The denouement is an excellent study of Crane's life with his emotionless voice over accompanying it.

Overall, this film is an example of what film should be. With the crew and cast an example of what a film cast and crew should be. How This film was nominated for no Oscars is criminal, especially Thornton. However the Coens had their usual Cannes reception to fall back on (Cannes is the only one that counts for REAL movies anyway!). Winning the directors prize (shared) for Joel Coen, although as always with the Coens, where Joel goes, Ethan follows, so the credit is really to both of them.

10/10 In my opinion the Coens best work.


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