Man Who Wasnt There

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Product Overview

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 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.


Studio Usa
SKU 40165051
UPC 696306031925
UPC 14 00696306031925
Format DVD
Release Date 4/16/2002
Rating Rating
Film Noir
Theatrical Release
Editors Note
Note The Coen brothers' THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE is a brilliantly photographed black-and-white absurdist noir set in Santa Rosa, California, in 1949. Ed Crane (the outstanding Billy Bob Thornton) is a slow-moving, barely talking barber who doesn't seem to want much out of life. He has virtually no relationship with his wife, Doris (Frances McDormand), who has more fun with her boss, Big Dave (James Gandolfini). But when a strange character (Jon Polito) lets it be known that he's looking for a silent partner to finance his dream business (something he calls dry cleaning), Ed sees a possible way out of his doldrums. Just like any good James M. Cain novel (which the Coens cited as a major influence on the story), blackmail, deceit, violence, murder, and double crossing ensue, all with the magic Coen twists and turns.^THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE looks simply magnificent; the cinematography, the outfits, and the set designs perfectly capture this intriguing post-WWII paranoid world embodied by misfits, cheats, simpletons, con men, and other ne'er-do-wells. Thornton, who also supplies the wonderfully droll narration, gives a bravura performance as Ed, the everyman who has never strayed from the straight and narrow--until now. Always with a Chesterfield in his mouth, he wanders from scene to scene almost as if he's a spectator--even though he's at the center of everything that goes on. The supporting cast, as usual in a Coen brothers film, is outstanding, including McDormand, Gandolfini, Polito, Tony Shalhoub, Richard Jenkins, and Scarlett Johansson as a young potential piano prodigy.
Film Comment "...A fully realized, cohesive, and -- the real surprise -- completely 'serious' homage to the Hollywood genre, perhaps the best neo-noir since THE TWO JAKES..." 09/01/2001 p.75
Movieline's Hollywood Life "...One of [the Coen brothers's] most haunting and rewarding works..." 11/01/2001 p.46
Sight and Sound "...It's shot in clean, crisp black and white, it's elegant compositions masterfully framed and lit....The Coens are masters of the offbeat and bizarre..." 11/01/2001 p.50-1
New York Times "...It's probable that most filmmakers love making movies, but few of them express this love with such voracious, crazy ardor....THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE moves with the stately grace of the Beethoven that decorates the soundtrack..." 10/31/2001 p.E1
USA Today "...The remarkable Thornton never hits a false note..." 10/31/2001 p.6D
Entertainment Weekly "...Succulently retro, vintage-Hollywood-goes-bizarro film noir..." 11/09/2001 p.79-80
Chicago Sun-Times "...So assured and perceptive in it's style, it's like a voluptuous feast..." 01/20/2002 p.6
Joel Coen
Billy Bob Thornton
James Gandolfini
Frances McDormand
Cast & Crew
Billy Bob Thornton - Actor
Frances McDormand - Actor
Francis McDormand - Actor
James Gandolfini - Actor
Jon Polito - Actor
Katherine Boorowitz - Actor
Michael Badalucco - Actor
Scarlett Johansson - Actor
Tony Shaloub - Actor
Robert Graf - Associate Producer
John Cameron - Co-Producer
Mary Zophres - Costume Designer
Joel Coen - Director
Roger Deakins - Director of Photography
Tim Bevan - Executive Producer
Eric Fellner - Executive Producer
Tricia Cooke - Film Editor
Roderick Jaynes - Film Editor
Carter Burwell - Musical Score
Ethan Coen - Producer
Dennis Glassner - Production Designer
Ethan Coen - Writer
Joel Coen - Writer
Joel & Ethan Coen - Writers
Technical Info
Original Release Date 2001
Catalog ID 963060319
UPC 00696306031925
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 116 minutes
Color B&W
Original Language English
Available Subtitles English, French, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks English [CC], English, French Dubbed
Aspect Ratio
AFI Award (2002) Roger Deakins, Winner, AFI Cenematographer Of The Year,Billy Bob Thornton, Nominee, AFI Actor Of The Year--Movies,Tony Shaloub, Nominee, AFI Featured Male Actor Of The Year--Movies
Oscar (2002) Roger Deakins, Nominee, Best Cinematography
British Academy Awards (2002) Roger Deakins, Nominee, Best Cinematography
Cannes Film Festival (2001) Joel Coen, Winner, Best Director,Joel Coen, Nominee, Golden Palm
Golden Globe (2002) Billy Bob Thornton, Nominee, Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture-Drama,Ethan & Joel Coen, Nominee, Best Motion Picture Screenplay
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review ...shot in black-and-white so elegantly, it reminds us of a 1940s station wagon--chrome, wood, leather and steel all burnished to a contented glow. Its star performance by Billy Bob Thornton is a study in sad-eyed, mournful chain-smoking, the portrait of a man so trapped by life he wants to scream. The plot is one of those film noir twisters made of gin and adultery, where the right man is convicted of the wrong crime. The look, feel and ingenuity of this film are so lovingly modulated you wonder if anyone else could have done it better than the Coens.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 9
DVD, Dolby Digital (5.1), French, Dubbed & Subtitled, Spanish, Subtitled, No Longer Produced
Nev Pierce, BBCi A unique, peculiar, riveting experience... one of the best films of the year.
Joel Siegel, Good Morning America The Coens' Best Film.
Ebert & Roeper Two thumbs up!
Desson Howe, Washington Post Thornton...steals (the movie) with the assured subtlety of a pickpocket.
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune Hellishly Funny! Brilliantly Written!
Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper The Man Wasn't There Is One Of The Best Films Yet From The Coen Brothers"
Ebert & Roeper And The Movies Two thumbs up!
CNN A beautifully executed film.
J. Hoberman, The Village Voice An exquisitely monochromatic tale of adultery, blackmail, and murder under the California sun...

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