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
In his 2017 book, The Coen Brothers, Ian Nathan reports that Joel Coen called Billy Bob Thornton to offer say the brothers had a film for him. What's it about, Thornton asked. "It's about a barber who wants to be in the dry-cleaning business," was the reply. "I'll take it," said Thornton, who had been a long-time fan of the Coens, having famously remarked, "They just don't suck." See more »
When Big Dave confronts Ed Crane about the blackmail in his office, a member of the crew can be seen moving behind Ed, in the background. See more »
Yeah, I worked in a barbershop, but I never considered myself a barber. I stumbled into it. Or married into it, more precisely.
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The opening titles cast shadows on the wall as if they are real. See more »
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 »
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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