I absolutely adore the films of the Coen Brothers. I didn’t care much for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but No Country For Old Men, Burn After Reading, The Big Lebowski, and Fargo are some of my favourite films of all time; and Inside Llewyn Davis, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, A Serious Man, Hail, Cesar!, and Barton Fink are right up there in the next level of appreciation.
One of the greatest things about even the lesser Coen films is the sheer volume of quotable characters that they are populated by. The filmmakers have a way of creating these outsized, eccentric, ludicrous personalities, and of casting actors who can play them while seemingly effortlessly delivering the Coens’ oft-ornate dialogue, that when it comes to quotable moments, it all leads to an embarrassment of riches.
Twitter pondered this question yesterday when Joe Garden tweeted the following prompt:
What is a non-Lebowski Coen Brothers catch-phrase in your household?— Joe Garden (@joegarden) February 8, 2021
For us, it's "Would that it were so simple" from Hail Caesar!
My brain jumped straight to two films: No Country For Old Men, and Burn After Reading—the latter of which I gushed over a few years ago here. Two movies that are in many ways the polar opposites of one another, yet which share many strands of DNA—a creative pattern that the Coen Brothers love to return to frequently. No Country and Burn also share a panoply of quotable characters and moments, and they were the ones I immediately thought of in response to Garden’s prompt. Chad Feldheimer’s, ‘Secure your shit.’ Or the Burn After Reading’s lawyer, ‘Because here’s a man… Here’s a man practised in deceit.’ Or simply Anton Chigurh’s, ‘Friendo.’ Or Llewelyn Moss’, ‘Ain’t got no agua.’ Or indeed the pitch perfect Desert Aire Manager from No Country: ‘Did you not hear me? We can’t give out no information.’
Here’s how Twitter responded to Garden’s prompt:
"I WONT me a toddler!" from Raising Arizona— Ty Burr (@tyburr) February 8, 2021
"Only a moron pretends to know something about something he knows nothing about!"— Michael Swaim (@SWAIM_CORP) February 8, 2021
My wife and I are deliberately childless, but when people ask me why we didn't have kids, I always answer that "while she may seem as fertile as the Tennessee Valley, her womb was a rock place where my seed could find no purchase"…that tends to shut them up.— tullymox ❄️ (@tullymox) February 8, 2021
I can't calculate how many times as a kid I yelled "I'm a Dapper Dan man!" at my parents— Nat Roberts 🏴☠️ (@GnatRoberts) February 8, 2021
"How we gonna run reform? We're the incumbent!"— David Nir (@DavidNir) February 8, 2021
(Okay, not exactly household, but I publish a newsletter about elections and this comes up a surprising amount) https://t.co/YmbwBj3ByY
“You know… for kids!” pic.twitter.com/Ra3wkKG25N— cuddly but deadly! (@HikeoftheMenrys) February 8, 2021
I'm the damn paterfamilias! (When my children attempt to backtalk me.)— Matthew Talicska (@yourpaltal) February 8, 2021
Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity. Two weeks from everywhere!— MsAnneThropesMr (@MsAnnThropesMr) February 8, 2021
"I'll show you the life of the mind!" Charlie Meadows in Barton Fink.— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) February 8, 2021
No Country For Old Men, "I deduced it." pic.twitter.com/5rfklHqm8y— Steady Lampin’ (@JoshK_i_am) February 8, 2021
Unsure why this one has stuck but whenever my partner and I disagree on anything it’s, “I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work there, Lou.” pic.twitter.com/EI54ru4x0r— mer (@murmurdith) February 9, 2021
"Little guy, kinda funny-lookin'."— freswinn (@freswinn) February 8, 2021
"In what way?"
"Oh, just in a general kind'a way."
“Mind you don’t cut yourself, Mordecai.”— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) February 8, 2021
"It's got Yodas 'n shit."— St. Louis Lookin' Dude (@roderonner) February 8, 2021
A lot of Fargo in our house. Chiefly, “hey, I’m cooperatin’ here” and “looks like she’s gonna turn cooold tomorrah!”— Dave Klasko (@daveklasko) February 8, 2021
From their adaptation of _No Country for Old Men_ :— Ethan Chance (@e_p_chance) February 8, 2021
"Wendell: Well, it's a mess… ain't it sherrif?
Sheriff Ed Tom Bell: If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here."
Fargo.. when you are trying to act interested in whatever the other spouse is saying. But you have to do it with the accent and exaggerated enthusiasm or it doesn’t work. .. ‘Oh yeah’ pic.twitter.com/QRw2DbbcGe— teatime75 (@teatime75) February 8, 2021
Just look at that parking lot. pic.twitter.com/WxGeeK9whD— William Lindeke (@BillLindeke) February 8, 2021
“I detect, like me, you’re endowed with the gift of gab” from Clooney in O Brother— Duffy (@DuffyCox) February 8, 2021
In my social circle, I like to smugly chuckle “You think that’s a Schwinn…” when someone gets something wrong but no one ever gets it: https://t.co/4m46tZ5zir— "annoying but pretty hot" (@JenniferWillcut) February 8, 2021
And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day - Fargo— Julian McCullough (@julezmac) February 8, 2021
Over the weekend at a car dealership when told the price would be higher than promised and the reason why… "See, they install that TruCoat at the factory." I said that to my spouse who grinned, and we walked out on the dealer. pic.twitter.com/WatLgYLf91— The Acedian (@Acedian) February 8, 2021
This is an embarrassing admission, but I definitely do ‘Owww-ter SSSSpaCE’ in the Adam Driver voice to myself more than once a week. pic.twitter.com/9CficDl6hF— Paula VanLaningham 💙 (@prvanlan) February 8, 2021
“Report back to me… when it makes sense.” pic.twitter.com/otfLVwYwjb— Scott Broussard (@scb0212) February 8, 2021
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