The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

R | 112 or 116 mins | Drama | 2 November 2001

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

Joel Coen

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Producer:

Ethan Coen

Cinematographer:

Roger Deakins

Production Designer:

Dennis Gassner

Production Company:

Working Title Films
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Untitled Barber Movie, Untitled Barber Project and The Barber Movie. The film has a voice-over narration delivered by Billy Bob Thornton as his character, “Ed Crane.” Although the narration fluctuates between past and present tense, the entirety of the film is a flashback until the end sequence, when Ed is in prison and writing his memoir for the magazine. “Roderick Jaynes,” listed in the onscreen credits as a film editor, is a joint pseudonym used by brothers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, who, along with Tricia Cooke, edited the film.
       The film's end credits include the following acknowledgment: "'Fibber McGee & Molly' Courtesy of NBC Studios and The Museum of Broadcasting Communications, Chicago." The opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order. According to the presskit, the film was shot at the following Southern California locations: Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles for the jail scene; Don Carlos Stages in East Los Angeles for the courtroom scenes; Musso and Frank’s Grill in Hollywood as Da Vinci’s restaurant; Thousand Oaks for the wedding reception; a Presbyterian Church on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles for the Bingo scene; an empty Bank of America branch in downtown Los Angeles as the Santa Rosa bank; a furniture store in Glendale as “Nirdlinger’s” department store; the exterior of a Craftsman-style house in the “Bungalow Heaven” neighborhood in Pasadena became the Crane home; an apartment in Castle Green, a hotel-turned-apartment building in Pasadena, served as the piano teacher’s studio; and portions of the city of Orange in Orange County doubled as Santa Rosa. Both Michael ...

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The working titles of this film were Untitled Barber Movie, Untitled Barber Project and The Barber Movie. The film has a voice-over narration delivered by Billy Bob Thornton as his character, “Ed Crane.” Although the narration fluctuates between past and present tense, the entirety of the film is a flashback until the end sequence, when Ed is in prison and writing his memoir for the magazine. “Roderick Jaynes,” listed in the onscreen credits as a film editor, is a joint pseudonym used by brothers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, who, along with Tricia Cooke, edited the film.
       The film's end credits include the following acknowledgment: "'Fibber McGee & Molly' Courtesy of NBC Studios and The Museum of Broadcasting Communications, Chicago." The opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order. According to the presskit, the film was shot at the following Southern California locations: Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles for the jail scene; Don Carlos Stages in East Los Angeles for the courtroom scenes; Musso and Frank’s Grill in Hollywood as Da Vinci’s restaurant; Thousand Oaks for the wedding reception; a Presbyterian Church on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles for the Bingo scene; an empty Bank of America branch in downtown Los Angeles as the Santa Rosa bank; a furniture store in Glendale as “Nirdlinger’s” department store; the exterior of a Craftsman-style house in the “Bungalow Heaven” neighborhood in Pasadena became the Crane home; an apartment in Castle Green, a hotel-turned-apartment building in Pasadena, served as the piano teacher’s studio; and portions of the city of Orange in Orange County doubled as Santa Rosa. Both Michael Badalucco and Thornton trained with barbers to learn how to cut hair; Thornton also briefly trained at Dirty Dan’s Clip Joint.
       The presskit adds the following information about the production: The picture was shot on color negative film, which was then printed on black-and-white film stock for theatrical exhibition. According to a 30 Nov 2001 article in Entertainment Weekly, USA Films negotiated with the filmmakers to shoot the picture so that videos could be released in color for European markets. The Man Who Wasn’t There emulates the visual style and content of film noir, a genre produced primarily in the 1940s and 1950s. The filmmakers depicted the setting as Santa Rosa, CA because it evoked the 1943 Alfred Hitchcock film Shadow of a Doubt, which was set and filmed in Santa Rosa (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Other echoes of a classic film noir may include the character names “Diedrickson” and “Nirdlinger.” “Dietrichson” was used for two main characters in the 1944 Paramount film Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder, while “Nirdlinger” was the surname used for the same characters in James M. Cain’s novel Double Indemnity, on which the Paramount film was based (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).
       The Man Who Wasn’t There tied with David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. for the Best Director Palme d'Or award at the 2001 Cannes International Film Festival. Roger Deakins was selected by AFI as Cinematographer of the Year, and the film was nominated by AFI as Movie of the Year. Other AFI award nominations went to Thornton as AFI Actor of the Year—Male—Movies and to Tony Shalhoub as AFI Featured Actor of the Year—Male—Movies. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated the film for 2001 Golden Globe awards in the following categories: Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Thornton) and Best Screenplay (Ethan and Joel Coen). The film also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
14 May 2001
---
Entertainment Weekly
9 Nov 2001
pp. 79-80
Entertainment Weekly
30 Nov 2001
p. 49, 51
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 2000
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 2000
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 2000
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 2001
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 2001
---
ICG Magazine
Nov 2001
pp. 23-28
LA Weekly
2 Nov 2001
---
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 2001
---
New Times (L.A.)
1 Nov 2001
---
New York Times
31 Oct 2001
---
Rolling Stone
22 Nov 2001
---
Screen International
5 May 2000
---
Sight and Sound
Nov 2001
---
The Observer (London)
28 Oct 2001
---
The Sunday Times (London)
28 Oct 2001
---
The Times (London)
25 Oct 2001
---
Time
3 Sep 2001
---
Variety
10 Apr 2000
---
Variety
21 May 2001
---
Village Voice
6 Nov 2001
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Working Title Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Loader
Steadicam op
Steadicam op
Steadicam asst
Video assist
Underwater asst
Cam intern
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Rigging gaffer
Elec rigging best boy
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Key rigging grip
Paul [D.] Williams
Rigging best boy grip
Lab processing consultant
Still photog
Arriflex S35 cams by
Lighting equipment supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Art dept admin
Graphic des
Art dept asst
Hand-to-Eye man
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Assoc film ed/Post-prod supv
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Set dec
Asst set dec
Leadman
On-set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Drapery foreman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Props asst
Const coord
Const admin asst
Stage const foreman
Loc const foreman
Plaster foreman
Sculptor
Labor foreman
Paint supv
Paint foreman
Gang boss painter
Gang boss painter
Gang boss painter
Signwriter
Greensman
Greensman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Asst cost des
Key set cost
Set cost
Set cost
Fitter/Cutter
Ager/Dyer
Cost
Alteration fitter
Ward asst
MUSIC
Orig score/Orch and cond
Mus supv
Piano performances
Mus scoring mixer
Contractor
Copyist
Asst to the comp
Accordian soloist
Mus mixed at
Asst mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd ed/Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Utility sd tech
Mus playback
Sd des
Dial ed
ADR ed
Sd ed
George A. Lara
Foley mixer
Marko Costanzo
Foley artist
Foley supv
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Transfer asst ed
Apprentice ed
Sd eff transfer asst
Field rec
Pre-mix rec
Sd studio mgr
Sd intern
Post-prod facilities
Post-prod sd/Re-rec mix
Re-rec mix
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Spec visual eff
Digital eff supv
Jonathan Styrlund
Digital eff prod
Digital eff prod
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
Compositor
3D artist
3D artist
3D artist
Paint/Roto supv
Paint/Roto artist
Visual eff coord
Creative eff dir
Bidding prod
Gen mgr
Visual eff ed
Systems admin
Systems admin
I/O supv
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff gang boss
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff asst
Miniatures const
Miniatures const
Miniatures const
Miniatures const
Miniatures photog
Opticals by
Combined cont by
Digital artist
Titles prod
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Key makeup
Makeup for Mr. Thornton
Spec eff makeup
Head hair stylist
Key hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Voice casting
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod accountant
Post-prod accountant
1st asst accountant
2d asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Extras payroll
Loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Loc asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver capt
Driver co-capt
Picture car capt
Transportation asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Office prod asst
Office prod asst
Post-prod asst
Cast asst
Barber cast training
Asst to Mr. Thornton
Asst to Mr. Thornton
Asst to Pedro Coen
Friend of the Firm
Craft service
Craft service asst
Chef
Chef
Unit pub
Prod legal services
Insurance services supplied by
Insurance services supplied by
Insurance services supplied by
Stage facilities
Stage facilities
Stage facilities
Chief operating officer, Working Title
Exec in charge of prod, Working Title
Head of legal/Business affairs, Working Title
Asst to Mr. Bevan, Working Title
Asst to Mr. Fellner, Working Title
Company coord, Working Title
Secy gen, Mike Zoss Productions
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
MUSIC
Piano Sonatas Number 8 ("Pathetique"), 14 ("Moonlight"), 15, 23, 25 and 30, and the Archduke Trio by Ludwig Van Beethoven.
SONGS
"Moonlight in Vermont," written by Johnny Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf, performed by Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra, courtesy of the RCA Records label, a unit of of BMG Entertainment, under license from BMG Special Products; "Some Enchanted Evening," written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, published by Williamson Music; "The Marriage of Figaro," written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Deutsche Opera Berlin, courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GMBH, Hamburg under license from Universal Music Enterprises; "Three O'Clock in the Morning," written by Julian Robhedo and Theodora Morse, published by EMI Feist Music, Inc. and Bienstock Publishing Company O/B/O Redwood Music Ltd., performed by Hugo & Luigi, courtesy of the RCA Records label, a unit of BMG Entertainment, under license from BMG Special Products.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Barber Movie
Release Date:
2 November 2001
Premiere Information:
World premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France: 13 May 2001; Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 Oct 2001
Production Date:
26 Jun--1 Sep 2000
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Gramercy Pictures LLC
2001
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; DTS; SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) in selected theatres
Black and White
DeLuxe Laboratories/Kodak Motion Picture Film
gauge
35mm
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
112 or 116
Length(in feet):
10,426
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
38222
SYNOPSIS

In 1949, Ed Crane works at a two-man barbershop owned by his brother-in-law, the loquacious Frank Raffo, in Santa Rosa, California. Ed does not consider himself a barber, just somebody who works as one, while his wife Doris works as a bookkeeper for Nirdlinger’s department store. Ed is a man of few words, and at a dinner party for Doris’ boss, Big Dave Alan Brewster and his heiress wife, Ann Nirdlinger, Big Dave keeps up the conversation with tall stories about the Pacific war. Ed observes to himself that Big Dave and Doris are closer than she lets on, but he has no interest in interfering. In the barbershop the next day, a new customer named Creighton Tolliver tells Ed that a local businessman has turned down his venture capital scheme for a new dry-cleaning business. Ed mulls the idea over all night and visits Creighton in his hotel room, telling him that he will come up with the $10,000 required investment within a week. Ed fends off a mild pass from Creighton and later writes an anonymous blackmail note to Big Dave demanding $10,000, and threatening that his affair with Doris will be made public if the money is not paid. Big Dave draws Ed into his office during the Nirdlinger’s Christmas party and confides in him about the blackmail note, but claims that his lover is no one Ed knows. Big Dave is distraught because paying out the money will prevent him from opening his own annex of the department store, and he fears the censure of his wife and her wealthy family. Ed listens quietly as Big ...

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In 1949, Ed Crane works at a two-man barbershop owned by his brother-in-law, the loquacious Frank Raffo, in Santa Rosa, California. Ed does not consider himself a barber, just somebody who works as one, while his wife Doris works as a bookkeeper for Nirdlinger’s department store. Ed is a man of few words, and at a dinner party for Doris’ boss, Big Dave Alan Brewster and his heiress wife, Ann Nirdlinger, Big Dave keeps up the conversation with tall stories about the Pacific war. Ed observes to himself that Big Dave and Doris are closer than she lets on, but he has no interest in interfering. In the barbershop the next day, a new customer named Creighton Tolliver tells Ed that a local businessman has turned down his venture capital scheme for a new dry-cleaning business. Ed mulls the idea over all night and visits Creighton in his hotel room, telling him that he will come up with the $10,000 required investment within a week. Ed fends off a mild pass from Creighton and later writes an anonymous blackmail note to Big Dave demanding $10,000, and threatening that his affair with Doris will be made public if the money is not paid. Big Dave draws Ed into his office during the Nirdlinger’s Christmas party and confides in him about the blackmail note, but claims that his lover is no one Ed knows. Big Dave is distraught because paying out the money will prevent him from opening his own annex of the department store, and he fears the censure of his wife and her wealthy family. Ed listens quietly as Big Dave blames Creighton because he had turned down the speculator’s scheme, and because Creighton may have seen Big Dave with his lover at his hotel. After leaving the office, Ed is drawn to teenager Rachel “Birdy” Abundas, the daughter of his lawyer friend Walter, while she plays a Beethoven sonata on a piano in a darkened room. On the drive home that night, Doris complains that Big Dave has mishandled his money and because he will not be opening the annex, she will not get a promotion. The next day, Ed collects the blackmail money as pre-arranged and immediately delivers it to Creighton, who has him sign partnership papers. Late the next night, Doris sleeps off having had too much wine at a relative’s wedding, unaware that Ed has been called to see Big Dave in the deserted department store. Big Dave reveals that he has beaten the truth out of Creighton. He now attacks Ed, but when he attempts to strangle him, Ed knifes him in the side of the throat. Big Dave dies in a pool of blood and Ed returns home, picking up where he left off in his recollections about when he and Doris first met. Doris is arrested for Big Dave’s murder and Walter recommends Ed to Freddy Riedenschneider, an expensive, top-notch Sacramento attorney. Late in the night, Ann visits Ed and reveals that she believes the government murdered Big Dave because she and her husband reported that they had been abducted by aliens while in Eugene, Oregon. The next day, Freddy interviews Doris and Ed, searching for an angle with which to defend her. Ed confesses to the murder, but Freddy brushes this off as an attempt to save his wife, while Doris wordlessly understands it is true. Frank is forced to mortgage his shop in order to pay Freddy, and Ed silently berates himself when he discovers that Creighton has disappeared. Ed seeks solace at the Abundas home, visiting nightly to hear Birdy play Beethoven. During another meeting with Ed and Doris, Freddy expounds on a German scientist’s theory that observing something changes it. He then introduces private investigator Burns, who has discovered that Big Dave lied about being a war hero, when in fact during the war he worked as a clerk at a naval shipyard. Freddy is convinced that this will introduce enough reasonable doubt to free Doris. Ed, meanwhile, begins envisioning a new life for himself managing Birdy’s professional career as a concert pianist. Everyone is stunned when the trial is canceled because Doris hanged herself in her cell. Frank is so debilitated by his sister’s death that he stops working and Ed hires a new barber, who, much to his chagrin, talks just as much as Frank. Although his life continues much as before, Ed now feels like a ghost. After learning from the medical examiner that the wife with whom he had not slept in years was pregnant at the time of her death, Ed tries to contact Doris through a medium, only to realize the absurdity of it. Ed then focuses his efforts on Birdy and gets her an audition with prominent San Francisco music teacher Jacques Carcanogues. Carcanogues tells Ed that Birdy’s playing is polite but dispassionate and that she has no future as a professional. On the drive home, Birdy, who has never been interested in a professional career, tries to console Ed by performing oral sex on him. Ed is shocked and protests vehemently, then accidentally drives off the road. As the car sails through the air, time slows for Ed, and he ponders why hair continues to grow after a person dies, and how it knows to stop. Ed finds himself on his porch, smoking a cigarette. Doris arrives home and fends off a pavement salesman, after which she and Ed sit silently on their living room couch. Ed speaks her name, but she tells him to say nothing, and that he is fine. Ed then awakens in the hospital, severely battered by the car accident, and learns that although Birdy is alive and well, he is being arrested for Creighton’s death as the salesman’s beaten body was recently discovered in his sunken car. Ed signs over his house to Freddy, who agrees to take the case to make up for Doris’ lost trial. Although Freddy makes a brilliant argument, Frank loses control and slugs Ed in court, and a mistrial is declared. Ed can no longer afford Freddy’s counsel and hires a lesser attorney, Lloyd Garroway. In the next trial, Ed is found guilty and sentenced to death by execution. He finishes writing his story for the magazine Stalwart in his cell, and notes that writing it has helped him see his story as a whole, rather than disconnected pieces. As he is being strapped to the electric chair, Ed reflects that although he is sorry to have caused people pain, the only thing he ever regretted was being a barber. He now looks forward to seeing Doris again and telling her “all those things they don’t have words for here.”

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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.