April 5th, 1996

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Still of Steve Buscemi in FargoStill of Steve Buscemi in FargoStill of Steve Reevis in FargoStill of Peter Stormare in FargoStill of William H. Macy in FargoStill of Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare in Fargo

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of pregnant Marge Gunderson.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 8.3/10 (211,959 voted)

Critic's Score: 85/100

Director: Joel Coen

Stars: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi

Jerry works in his father-in-law's car dealership and has gotten himself in financial problems. He tries various schemes to come up with money needed for a reason that is never really explained. It has to be assumed that his huge embezzlement of money from the dealership is about to be discovered by father-in-law. When all else falls through, plans he set in motion earlier for two men to kidnap his wife for ransom to be paid by her wealthy father (who doesn't seem to have the time of day for son-in-law). From the moment of the kidnapping, things go wrong and what was supposed to be a non-violent affair turns bloody with more blood added by the minute. Jerry is upset at the bloodshed, which turns loose a pregnant sheriff from Brainerd, MN who is tenacious in attempting to solve the three murders in her jurisdiction.

Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

William H. Macy - Jerry Lundegaard
Steve Buscemi - Carl Showalter
Peter Stormare - Gaear Grimsrud
Kristin Rudrüd - Jean Lundegaard
Harve Presnell - Wade Gustafson
Tony Denman - Scotty Lundegaard
Gary Houston - Irate Customer
Sally Wingert - Irate Customer's Wife
Kurt Schweickhardt - Car Salesman
Larissa Kokernot - Hooker #1
Melissa Peterman - Hooker #2
Steve Reevis - Shep Proudfoot (as Steven Reevis)
Warren Keith - Reilly Diefenbach (voice)
Steve Edelman - Morning Show Host
Sharon Anderson - Morning Show Hostess

Taglines: A lot can happen in the middle of nowhere.

Release Date: 5 April 1996

Filming Locations: Bathgate, North Dakota, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $730,265 (USA) (10 March 1996) (36 Screens)

Gross: $60,611,975 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

When working on her Minnesota accent for the film, Frances McDormand worked with Larissa Kokernot, "Hooker #1." McDormand referred to her accent and mannerisms as "Minnesota Nice."

Revealing mistakes: After Marge arrives on the second murder scene about 35 minutes into the film, as she examines the slain trooper, his eyelids move up and down.

[first lines]
Jerry Lundegaard: I'm, uh, Jerry Lundegaard.
Carl Showalter: You're Jerry Lundegaard?
Jerry Lundegaard: Ya. Shep Proudfoot said...
Carl Showalter: Shep said you'd be here at 7:30. What gives, man?
Jerry Lundegaard: Shep said 8:30.
Carl Showalter: We've been sitting here an hour. He's
[motioning to Gaer]
Carl Showalter: peed three times already.
Jerry Lundegaard: I'm sure sorry. Shep told me 8:30. It was a mix-up, I guess.

User Review

A masterpiece of Shakesperean proportions

Rating: 10/10

I've always thought Fargo would make a great Shakesperean play; you could alter the modern elements and still have created a buzz 400 years ago in suburban England. Indeed, the plot is similar to Hamlet's, in that they both have characters we root for who create zany plans than end up spinning wildly out of control into bloodshed. Many people seem to like Fargo for its humorous qualities, its characterization of the Minnesotan culture and Frances McDormand- not me. I love Fargo for its brilliant writing, its tragic musical score, its tragic plot, William H Macy, Harve Presnell and Steve Buscemi, its ignorance of political correctness (how many movies can you remember when the only two minority characters were both revealed to be creeps).I want to draw attention to an overlooked reason why the film works so well - how well the music suits the visuals in this movie. Each murder scene is scored superbly, and other audio clues really add to the effect (for instance, notice how when the police officer asks Carl Showalter "What's this?" in reference to the abductee, a disquieting guitar sound is immediately played that has an instantaneous psychological effect on how you interpret the scene). I have seen this film over, well, an embarrassing number of times and have committed its screenplay, from start to finish, by memory. Fargo is the ultimate Coen Brothers movie, a brilliant tragedy, and restores my faith in Roger Ebert as he places this movie in as his fourth favorite movie of the '90s.

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