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Barton Fink (1991)

John Turturro , John Goodman , Ethan Coen , Joel Coen  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, John Mahoney
  • Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Producers: Ethan Coen, Ben Barenholtz, Bill Durkin, Graham Place
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: May 20, 2003
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008RH3J
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,312 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Barton Fink" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 8 deleted scenes
  • Still gallery

Editorial Reviews

Set in Hollywood during the 1940's, "Barton Fink" is a comic satire about creative egos, flashy moguls, a travelling salesman and a nasty case of writer's block. Barton Fink (John Turturro) is a New York playwright lured to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter. It doesn't take long for Barton's life to erupt in complete chaos. His studio boss orders the serious-minded Barton to write a low budget wrestling movie. Deeply disappointed, Barton returns to his seedy hotel, types one sentence and then¿ nothing. To make matters worse, he is continually interrupted by Charlie (John Goodman), a chatty travelling insurance salesman who lives next door. Eventually they become friends and Charlie tries to help Barton by teaching him the finer points of wrestling. As the clock ticks away and the temperature climbs, Barton becomes more desperate as his life spins out of control.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GO WEST, YOUNG MAN... September 20, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Welcome to the wonderfully wacky world of the Coen brothers. Joel and Ethan Coen are two of the most brilliant filmmakers in America today. Every film they turn out is a cinematic gem, and "Barton Fink" is no exception.
The film centers around a slightly pompous, idealistic, left wing playwright, Barton Fink (John Turturro), who in 1941, after becoming the toast of Broadway as the pretentious voice of the common man, goes west to Hollywood at the invitation of a major studio in order to try his hand at writing screenplays.
There, he meets studio head, Jack Lipnick (Michael Lerner), and his yes man and whipping boy, Lou Breeze (Jon Polito). Asked to write a screenplay for a Wallace Beery vehicle about wrestling, a subject about which the bookish Fink knows nothing about, causes Fink to go into a professional tailspin.
Ensconced in a decaying old hotel, seemingly run by its slightly creepy and unctuous bell hop, Chet (Steve Buscemi), who bizarrely appears on the scene out of a trapdoor behind the hotel's front desk, Fink begins his ordeal . The elevator is run by a cadaverous, pock marked, elderly man. The corridors of the hotel seem endless. The wallpaper in Fink's room is peeling away from the wall, leaving a viscous, damp ooze in its wake. His bed creaks and groans with a life of its own. It is also hot, oppressively hot.
No residents of the hotel are apparent, except for the appearance of shoes outside the doors in expectation of the free shoe shine the hotel offers its denizens and for the noise made by his neighbors. Finks meets one of his neighbors, the portly Charlie Meadows (John Goodman), a gregarious Everyman, possessed of an abundance of bonhomie. A self-styled insurance salesman, Charlie cajoles Fink out of his shell, befriending him in the process.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've been waiting YEARS for this DVD... February 12, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
For a long time, the absurdist masterpiece Barton Fink was only available in a dingy VHS release. It was better than nothing, but this film deserved better. Thankfully, it's here - in all its stupefying glory.
I won't recount the story. Plenty of other reviews do that. Not long ago I was tempted to interpret it. That still seems a valid course, as there is a genuine sense that, beneath its comic, surreal surface, Barton Fink is trying to tell us something urgent and important. Perhaps, but the primal forces in a writer's mind as s/he shapes a great story do that, anyway - often without the writer's specific knowledge.
Rather than a simple allegory, Barton Fink is a collection of surfaces, styles, textures, and mannerisms. That they seem to add up to more than the sum of their parts is the great trick, akin to the way a painter can suggest the dappled depths of a forest with a few deft pats of a fan brush. Which isn't to say the film is shallow. No; there is a lot going on here. But to suggest that this film has a specific meaning is also to suggest it has an answer. Only mediocre films (by the likes of, say, Stanley Kramer or Oliver Stone) provide answers in a attempt to make themselves more important. The Coens (writer Ethan, director Joel), like most of us, haven't a clue about the Mysteries of Life. So they don't try to "...tell us something about all of us, something beautiful..." as Fink himself professes. Instead, they enjoy "...making things up...", like the other writer in the film, the Faulkneresque W.P. Mayhew (played to perfection by John Mahoney).
Somewhere in here, though, the sleight-of-hand, the postmodern flourishes (wherein genres clash and surfaces spill over one another in unexpected ways), cracks appear.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The movie's a five, but a poor DVD release May 24, 2003
By Alan
I won't retread what's already been covered well about the new DVD release of Barton Fink. But I did want to expand on it. First, this is a great looking, well-acted, well-written movie. All my negative comments below mustn't be taken with the film itself in mind; only the lack of quality of the DVD release of said movie.
Second, while the sound is good, I was surprised we are only given a stereo Dolby track. When the location of audio events is so key as in a film like Barton Fink, I would think 20th Century Fox would take advantage of the later surround technology and do a 5.1 or 6.1 remix.
But the most disturbing issue I had with the DVD is for first time viewers of the film. If there's any way on your player that you can skip the opening segment leading into the menu, and the menu itself, do so by all means. This gives away a key scene late in the picture and is a spoiler all by itself. Just play the movie. I won't elaborate for those who haven't seen the movie, just do not look at the menu until afterwards! I can't imagine what the folks at Fox responsible for this DVD were thinking and I was completely annoyed by this solution to a menu subject. Hint for special edition menu: How about the picture of the girl on the beach, folks? That's a strong thread that gives NOTHING away. I guess this comes from the same thinking that gives us a two minute movie trailer with all the key plot twists, which leaves the viewer feeling that they've already seen the movie.
On the whole, it seemed to me that this release of the picture was flippant, without any real thought about quality. Not even a commentary is included! This film festival award-winner, with one of John Goodman's most involving performances, deserves a special edition with a proper film transfer and sound remix - not to mention a more appropriate menu subject. So five stars for a brilliant Coen bros. film, but the disappointing DVD quality reduces it to a two. Write Fox for a special edition.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Darn funny.
Love the Coen Bros.
Published 1 month ago by R. Sharp
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Coen Brothers' best work.
Not the Coen Brothers' best work. I'm too lazy to elaborate.
Published 1 month ago by Peter F.
5.0 out of 5 stars Devil!
Turturro and Goodman give excellent performances. A must watch, especially for writers.
Published 1 month ago by M. M. Debs
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like 'Fargo' you'll probably like this!
This movie, for some reason, I suspect the strange characters, is very entertaining to me. It's not for everyone as much of the humor and drama is low key, and subliminal. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tim Goodness
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Funny and frightening! Spectacular cast!
Published 2 months ago by Margaret O'Connell
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Comedy, Typical Excellent Coen Brothers
Masterful performances from John Turturro and John Goodman, great supporting work from John Mahoney and Judy Davis. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Propertia
5.0 out of 5 stars loved the artistry
I viewed this for a comparative literature class. I thought the characters were engaging and the artistry phenomenal. Read more
Published 3 months ago by sparrow
5.0 out of 5 stars “Sometimes it gets so hot I want to crawl right out of my skin.”
Barton Fink is the greatest film about “Writing” I have ever seen. This story can be discussed and analyzed for hours. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome movie.
Loved the movie and the feel of it. One suggestion: try to read something online about the symbolism in the film. It is very worth it and full of symbolism.
Published 5 months ago by Serena D
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of time
I really expected more from the cast and the director. Was disappointed. Wish I had my hour and a half back.
Published 7 months ago by Robert E. Nelson
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