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The Big Lebowski (BFI Film Classics) Paperback – January 22, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Terrific stuff, intellectually engaging, visually appealing, and shot through with wit and insight."
-Time Out London

"Beautifully lucid."
-Little White Lies

"Compact and deliciously readable."
-Offscreen.com

"Is it an important book? That depends. Do you think The Big Lebowski is an important film? If the answer is an unhesitating 'yes,' run, don't walk."
-January magazine

About the Author

J. M. Tyree is an associate editor of New England Review and the author of BFI Film Classics: Salesman. Ben Walters is the author of books on Orson Welles and The Office. They contributed to Sight & Sound magazine's Greatest Films Poll 2012, have spoken together at BFI's National Film Theatre, and have coauthored reviews for Sight & Sound on No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading, and Inside Llewyn Davis.

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Product Details

  • Series: BFI Film Classics
  • Paperback: 123 pages
  • Publisher: British Film Institute (June 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844571734
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844571734
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.4 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #735,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J. M. Tyree is an associate editor of New England Review. His books include Our Secret Life in the Movies (with Michael McGriff, A Strange Object), BFI Film Classics: The Big Lebowski (with Ben Walters), and BFI Film Classics: Salesman (British Film Institute publishing and Palgrave/Macmillan). He was a Truman Capote-Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer in Fiction at Stanford University's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Lapham's Quarterly, The Believer, Film Quarterly, Sight & Sound, and other magazines. He cast ballots in Sight & Sound's Greatest Films Poll 2012 and the Greatest Documentaries Poll 2014. He has contributed to the anthologies Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: Best of McSweeney's Humor Category (Knopf/Vintage) and Best of McSweeney's Internet Tendency (McSweeney's Books).

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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dash Manchette VINE VOICE on December 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Sometimes there's a man who just fits in to his time and place. And of course, it is the Dude, the Little Lebowski, we are talking about here. Although it was a flop at the box office, The Big Lebowski is now deservedly a cult classic, with a following to match that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Just in my hometown of Cleveland recently there was a Lebowski bowl-a-thon preceding a midnight showing of the movie.

It is not surprising then that the British Film Institute would publish one of its monographs on the movie. It is pretty good, too. THE BIG LEBOWSKI (and I am talking about the book here) is broken down into four sections. The first explores the incongruities within the movie that make it a bit confusing the first time around. Such incongruities are both large (just how did a laid back dude from the '60s get to be such good friends with the uptight, everything-is-about-'Nam Walter?) and small (a picture of Richard Nixon in the Dude's apartment). Such juxtapositions are tied into the Coen brothers' overall catalogue and tied together for the reader, just like the Dude's rug (which got the whole story rolling) tied his room together.

The second section looks at The Big Lebowski in the context of older film noir, including The Big Sleep based on the Raymond Chandler movie. As the authors point out, The Big Lebowski is also a crime movie, similar to though different from such classic noir. Despite its humor, The Big Lebowski is not merely a spoof. Nor is it an homage. Rather, it is a pastiche, with modern characters laid over the classic ones. The Dude is quite different from Philip Marlowe, Chandler's famous detective. Whereas Marlowe was smooth, the Dude has difficulty completing a sentence even when no one is interrupting him.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By tallguy on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Overall, this is quite a nice book. If you are at least a casual fan of the movie (i.e., have seen it more than twice) you will probably enjoy it. If you are an avid fan of the movie you MUST read it. The authors make several great observations of the film's props, dialogue, double entendres, et al. that even an avid fan surely missed, even after multiple viewings. They also make a lot of interesting comparisons of The Big Lebowski to film history (including past Coen Brothers' films). The text is ripe with full-frame stills from this film and those that it is compared to.

At times the prose can be a bit verbose (e.g., the comparison to Philip Marlowe) and lofty, but that's to be expected from this series of books.

Let's put it this way: you're on Amazon reading a review of a book about a specific movie. You've come this far for a reason. Buy it and read it. You'll love it...
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Format: Paperback
I saw THE BIG LEBOWSKI when it first came out and thought it one of the best comedies that I had seen in ages. The past decade plus of one of the weakest periods in American comic film makes you appreciate the Coen Brothers' masterpiece more than ever. Most comic films today seem to imitate Jud Apatow's brainless output, where comedy seems to consist of bad sex jokes, ceaseless profanity, and perpetual laughing at others' embarrassment.

Tyree and Walters's book provides a perfect introduction to THE BIG LEBOWSKI, detailing many of the major themes in the film, its sources as a semi-parody of Howard Hawks's film version of Raymond Chandler's THE BIG SLEEP in particular and film noir in general. I'd seen the film 6 or 7 times prior to reading this, but I learned a lot more about it from reading this than I expected. Another great book in a consistently good series about great films.
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