May 6, 2014
Universal Home Video
When hired goons mistake oafish, amiable bowling enthusiast Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski for their proper shakedown, eccentric millionaire the Big Lebowski, their error sets into motion a wacky chain of events that pull the Dude into a hilariously twisted mystery. The film is a high-key, fanciful farce with the same runaway-train comic sensibility as the Coens' RAISING ARIZONA--and a surreal musical number to boot.
When hired goons enforcing a debt mistake oafish, amiable bowling enthusiast Jeff Lebowski for their proper shakedown, eccentric millionaire The Big Lebowski, their error sets into motion a wacky chain of events that pull Jeff Lebowski into the other Lebowski's hilariously twisted world. High-key, fanciful farce with the same runaway-train comic sensibility as the Coens' "Raising Arizona"--and a surreal musical number to boot.
Theatrical release: March 6, 1998.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI features numerous references to the 1946 film THE BIG SLEEP, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart as a man who gets involved in a similarly chaotic mystery.
Bob Dylan performs "The Man in Me," the song played over the opening credits; Shawn Colvin performs "Viva Las Vegas" over the closing credits. Other artists whose songs appear in the film include Townes Van Zandt, Elvis Costello, Nina Simone, Yma Sumac, and Kenny Rogers.
The Dude is based partly on real-life producer Jeff Dowd.
The Jackie Treehorn film clip shown in the film is called LOGJAMMIN'; real-life porn star Asia Carrera plays the lead role in the fake film.
Shooting took almost 12 weeks, finishing in April 1997.
BRANDED, the television show that Arthur Digby Sellers is credited with writing in the film, was a TV Western series that starred Chuck Connors; the Dude thinks it starred Mike Connors, of MANNIX fame.
"I suppose there's a side of me that, had I not been an actor, might have lived his life like the Dude," Jeff Bridges said about the role he played in the film.
"All those half-finished sentences, all those ers and ums and ehs, they're all scripted in. You can't be relaxed about it. The dialogue is like music. All the characters have their own score and it takes practice and timing to get it right. You can't slack off," Steve Buscemi said about the screenplay.
John Turturro's role was cut out of the edited television version, possibly because almost everything he says includes curses.
Rock musicians Aimee Mann and Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) appear as members of the Nihilists. Country rock musician Jimmie Dale Gilmore plays Smokey, one of Walter's bowling opponents.
One of the reasons why bowling was chosen as the centerpiece of the film, Joel Coen told the Boston Phoenix, was that "it's the only thing that calls itself a sport where you can smoke and drink beer."
The film screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on March 5, 1998.