Monday, April 2, 2012
Fargo (Special Edition)
#84 on the 1998 AFI List of 100 Greatest American Movies
Fargo is a 1996 American dark comedy-crime film produced, directed and written by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant police chief who investigates a series of homicides, William H. Macy as a car salesman who hires two criminals to kidnap his wife, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare as the criminals, and Harve Presnell as the salesman's father-in-law.
The film earned seven Academy Award nominations, winning two for Best Original Screenplay for the Coens and Best Actress in a Leading Role for McDormand. It also won the BAFTA Award and the Award for Best Director for Joel Coen at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2006 it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and inducted into the United States National Film Registry.
* Frances McDormand as Marge Gunderson, the pregnant police chief in Brainerd
* William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard, an indebted car dealer who hires two men to kidnap his wife
* Steve Buscemi as Carl Showalter, a small-time crook hired to kidnap Jerry's wife
* Peter Stormare as Gaear Grimsrud, Carl's taciturn partner
* Harve Presnell as Wade Gustafson, the wealthy father of Jean Lundegaard
* Kristin Rudrüd as Jean Lundegaard, Jerry Lundegaard's wife
* Tony Denman as Scotty Lundegaard, Jerry and Jean's son
* Larry Brandenburg as Stan Grossman, an accountant and business partner of Wade Gustafson
* Steve Reevis as Shep Proudfoot, a Native American ex-convict and mechanic at the car dealership
* John Carroll Lynch as Norm Gunderson, husband of Marge Gunderson
* Steve Park as Mike Yanagita, a high-school classmate of Marge
The film's use of "Minnesota nice" and a "singsong" regional accent are remembered years later, with locals fielding requests to say "Yah, you betcha", and other lines from the movie. According to the film's dialect coach, Liz Himelstein, "the accent was another character". She coached the cast using audio tapes and field trips. Another dialogue coach, Larissa Kokernot (who appeared onscreen playing a prostitute), notes that the "small-town, Minnesota accent is close to the sound of the Nords and the Swedes", which is "where the musicality comes from". She also helped McDormand understand Minnesota nice and the practice of head-nodding to show agreement. The strong accent of Jerry and Marge is less common in the Twin Cities, where over 60% of the state's population lives. Speakers from Minneapolis and St. Paul are more characterized by the Northern cities vowel shift, which is also found in other places in the Northern United States such as Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo.