Put on your robes and make yourselves a White Russian, because “The Big Lebowski” is now 20 years old!
It’s almost old enough to consume alcohol!
If you’ve never seen it, “The Big Lebowski” is a sort of farcical homage to Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep.” Jeff Bridges plays a chilled-out middle-aged dude aptly named The Dude (or His Dudeness, or uh Duder, or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.)
Sadly though, The Dude’s real name is Jeffrey Lebowski — a fact that ends up causing him a whole lot of hassle as he happens to share the name with a local millionaire whose wife gets kidnapped. This results in The Dude being roped into a kooky/convoluted scheme that also involves marmot-owning German nihilists.
The film’s supporting cast is as magnificent as you’d expect from a Coen Brothers joint. Academy Award-winner Julianne Moore plays an eccentric artist named Maude, and the always reliable John Goodman plays an unhinged Vietnam veteran named Walter Sobchak. Throw in John Turturro and Steve Buscemi and you have the recipe for a very successful movie.
In theory, at least.
Released on March 6, 1998, the Coen Brothers’ cult classic was initially a box office flop and received mixed reviews from critics, with The San Francisco Chronicle’s Edward Guthmann saying the film was “ultimately too clever for its own good,” and that it had “more wacko side characters and plot curlicues than [it] can support, and inevitably it deflates from having to shoulder so much.”
But somehow, the film’s legacy prevailed and it quickly cemented its status as a cult classic.
So to celebrate let’s take a look at some of the most iconic scenes from one of the most quotable movies ever made.
The Dude Meets His Namesake
In this scene, The Dude meets his namesake — a rich guy by the name of Lebowski — and gets frustrated when the other Lebowski refers to him as Lebowski. And one of the most subtly hilarious quotes in all of cinema was born:
Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not Mr. Lebowski. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m he Dude. So that’s what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
The Introduction of Jesus
The brilliant John Turturro plays a Jesus Quintana, the flamboyant, sexually-charged and very competitive nemesis of the The Dude and his bowling buddies. In this scene, Jesus makes a very dramatic entrance while a mariachi version of the Eagles hit “Hotel California” plays.
Then he licks his bowling ball.
A spin-off movie focusing on the character is currently in the works and is being directed by Turturro himself. “Going Places” is scheduled for release sometime this year.
The Dude’s Dream
Sometimes, you can’t beat a good dream sequence, especially one crafted by the Coen Borrthers.
When Jeff Bridges appeared on “Conan” a few years ago, he shared a hilarious story about a prank that was played him while this scene was being filmed. Apparently, the day his wife and daughter visited him on the set was also the day he was scheduled to film the dream scene in which he has to stare up at a bunch of private parts — one of which was suspiciously hairy.
Ashes In the Face
Towards the end of the film, The Dude and Walter venture out into the wilderness to scatter the ashes of their dear dead friend Donnie, whose remains are being stored in a Folgers coffee tin. But despite Walter’s good intentions, the impromptu wake doesn’t really go according to plan and Walter ends up getting a face-full of human remains.
Chaos ensues when a group of German nihilists (one of whom is portrayed by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers) set the Dude’s car on fire. What more do you need to know?