Los Angeles plays itself in the Movies: The Big Lebowski

April 19, 2010 at 1:15 pm in Uncategorized

"The Mona Lisa"F*(k it, Dude. Let’s go Bowling.

“Sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ’cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man, and I’m talkin’ about the Dude here, sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude, in Los Angeles.”

When we first discussed doing this series, we considered the tagline, “Except Chinatown,” because it was just too obvious.

I start to wonder if The Big Lebowski couldn’t have gotten the same pass.

Many of the characters and situations were inspired by real people and events in Los Angeles county. And, while it might be reasonable to assume that may be the case for more movies than are immediately apparent, it seems the people and events that inspired this movie could only have lived in and taken place here.

Where else but L.A. would one encounter someone who called himself “The Dude?” Real guy. The final character is from a couple sources, but there really is/was a “Dude.”

The Coen Brothers wanted the events to unfold like a Raymond Chandler story. Quintessential Los Angeles. Yet,  as the narrative is told by “The Stranger, ” a cowboy, who tells us the story happens “Way Out West,” he  describes our little town to the tune of “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” like we’re about to see an old Singing Cowboy movie. Completely different, yet still quintessential Hollywood.

Shortly thereafter the theme song changes to a track by Randy Newman.

Pornographers, surly Malibu Police Chief, rundown 20’s deco Hollywood apartments, Sex-starved starlets, Ralph’s, all of L.A. is crammed into this movie. And I just have to say, I miss the Hollywood Star Lanes, that place was awesome.

So much has been written and this movie has been so celebrated in so many unique ways, I can barely touch upon it here. Lebowskifest, The Knave or Two Gentleen of Lebowski – The Shakespearian take on the screenplay, The Achievers (And Proud we are of all of them) that organize Lebowskifest, among other things. It’s so quotable, so accessible,  so laid-back, taking the truly bizarre as mundane day-to-day occurrence, so, not only Los Angeles, but that unnameable essence of what I love about L.A., it’s no wonder this film has lasted the way it has.

It Abides.  The Dude Abides and the film The Big Lebowski Abides. And, y’know what? Los Angeles Abides.

And I most certainly take a certain comfort in that.

This post is part of the L.A. Plays Itself in the Movies series. For a listing of posts in this series, click here.

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