Barton Fink

Part of our tribute to Ben Barenholtz, creator of the midnight movie!

Inspired by Clifford Odets’ bitter experience of Hollywood, Joel and Ethan Coen produced a modern classic with Barton Fink — cleaning up at Cannes with the Palme d’Or, and both Best Director and Best Actor prizes. John Turturro delivers one of his greatest performances as Barton Fink, a successful New York playwright dubiously fixated with writing for the “Common Man,” who reluctantly enters the seedy, corrupted rabbit hole of the 1940s film industry. Suckered into moving to a crumbling Hollywood hotel, with audibly peeling wallpaper, and penning a mediocre wrestling pic, he quickly develops writer’s block and and falls into a noirish murder investigation. Aside from the thinly veiled characterization of Clifford Odets, the film is a densely woven tapestry of Hollywood gossip, legend, and apocrypha from Faulkner to Louis B. Mayer, with dashes of religious and literary references thrown in for good measure. The Coen brothers clearly had a field day skewering both the writer and the nightmarish characters that surround him, with the offbeat sensibility that’s made so much of their work essential.

Dir. Joel Coen, 1991, 35mm, 116 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!