Fargo (1996)

R | 95 mins | Comedy-drama, Mystery | 1996

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

Joel Coen

Writers:

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Producer:

Ethan Coen

Cinematographer:

Roger Deakins

Editor:

Roderick Jaynes

Production Designer:

Rick Heinrichs

Production Company:

Working Title Films
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HISTORY

Fargo was ranked 84th on AFI's 1998 100 Years…100 Movies list of the greatest American ...

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Fargo was ranked 84th on AFI's 1998 100 Years…100 Movies list of the greatest American films.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Los Angeles Times
8 Mar 1996
p. 1.
New York Times
8 Mar 1996
p. 1.
Variety
12 Feb 1996
p. 78.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
Dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
DETAILS
Release Date:
1996
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 8 Mar 1996; New York opening: week of 8 Mar 1996
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1987 Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jerry Lundegaard struggles as the sales manager at an Oldsmobile dealership owned by his father-in-law, Wade Gustafson. After taking on a $320,000 loan using nonexistent vehicles as collateral, Lundegaard schemes to get himself out of debt by hiring two men to kidnap his wife, Jean, for an $80,000 ransom, to be paid by Wade Gustafson. A mechanic at the dealership named Shep Proudfoot connects Lundegaard with Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud, a couple of petty criminals based in Fargo, Noth Dakota, who agree to do the kidnapping in exchange for a new car and half the ransom. In the meantime, Lundegaard proposes a potentially lucrative real estate deal to Wade, in the hope of borrowing $750,000 to invest. Wade decides to pursue the deal on his own behalf, which furthers Lundegaard’s resolve to go through with the kidnapping. Showalter and Grimsrud take Jean by force, driving her out of town in a car from Lundegaard’s dealership. On their way to a cabin at Moose Lake, they are stopped by a state trooper who tickets them for driving without tags. Jean makes a noise from inside the car, which prompts Gaear to shoot the trooper dead, as well as two passersby. The triple murder is investigated by Marge Gunderson, the Brainerd, Minnesota, chief of police, who discovers that the killers called Shep Proudfoot from their hotel room. She goes to the Oldsmobile dealership to question him and Lundegaard, who attests that no vehicles have gone missing from the lot. That evening, Marge meets up with an ex-classmate, Mike Yanagita, who tries to seduce her despite the fact that she is married and pregnant. Due to ...

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In 1987 Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jerry Lundegaard struggles as the sales manager at an Oldsmobile dealership owned by his father-in-law, Wade Gustafson. After taking on a $320,000 loan using nonexistent vehicles as collateral, Lundegaard schemes to get himself out of debt by hiring two men to kidnap his wife, Jean, for an $80,000 ransom, to be paid by Wade Gustafson. A mechanic at the dealership named Shep Proudfoot connects Lundegaard with Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud, a couple of petty criminals based in Fargo, Noth Dakota, who agree to do the kidnapping in exchange for a new car and half the ransom. In the meantime, Lundegaard proposes a potentially lucrative real estate deal to Wade, in the hope of borrowing $750,000 to invest. Wade decides to pursue the deal on his own behalf, which furthers Lundegaard’s resolve to go through with the kidnapping. Showalter and Grimsrud take Jean by force, driving her out of town in a car from Lundegaard’s dealership. On their way to a cabin at Moose Lake, they are stopped by a state trooper who tickets them for driving without tags. Jean makes a noise from inside the car, which prompts Gaear to shoot the trooper dead, as well as two passersby. The triple murder is investigated by Marge Gunderson, the Brainerd, Minnesota, chief of police, who discovers that the killers called Shep Proudfoot from their hotel room. She goes to the Oldsmobile dealership to question him and Lundegaard, who attests that no vehicles have gone missing from the lot. That evening, Marge meets up with an ex-classmate, Mike Yanagita, who tries to seduce her despite the fact that she is married and pregnant. Due to the new complications in the kidnapping, Showalter doubles the previously negotiated fee, demanding $80,000 from Lundegaard. In the meantime, with only twenty-four hours to prove to the loan company that he has the collateral he promised, Lundegaard tells Wade that the ransom has been set at $1 million. Wade thwarts Lundegaard’s plan by insisting on delivering the ransom money, himself. Armed with a loaded gun, Wade brings the money to Showalter in a Minneapolis parking garage. The kidnapper becomes agitated when Wade asks to see his daughter, who is not there. He shoots Wade, but Wade manages to shoot back before dying. Showalter flees with a bullet wound to the jaw. He is shocked to find $1 million in the briefcase. He removes the $80,000 that he and Grimsrud were promised, then buries the remainder on the side of the highway. Showalter returns to the cabin at Moose Lake to discover that Grimsrud has killed Jean. Showalter offers Grimsrud his half of the $80,000 and insists on fleeing separately. They squabble over who gets to keep the car, and Grimsrud ends the dispute by killing Showalter with an axe. Marge questions Lundegaard’s honesty and returns to the Oldsmobile dealership to interrogate him again. Lundegaard runs away, and Marge reports him to Minnesota police. She receives a tip from a bar owner who overheard Showalter bragging about his exploits, and locates the Moose Lake cabin, where she finds the missing dealership car in question. Grimsrud is feeding Showalter’s dead body into a woodchipper as Marge appears. To stop him from escaping on foot, she shoots him in the leg. He and Jerry Lundegaard are arrested, and Marge returns home to her husband, Norm. The two casually discuss his painting of a mallard, which has been selected to appear on a new three-cent postage stamp, and the arrival of their baby in two months.

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GENRE


Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.