This dark comedy crime thriller captures the quirkiness of the people, and the harshness of the weather in Fargo, North Dakota. How much do you remember about a struggling car salesman who hires two criminals to kidnap his wife in order to extort a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law? Find out now!
Frances McDormand played an important character in Fargo. What was the name of the character?
Marge Gunerson is a fictional character and leading protagonist in the 1996 film Fargo. Marge is the Brainerd Chief of Police. She is “Minnesota Nice” even when it comes to interrogating witnesses. During filming, McDormand was hesitant about the openness of Marge, in an interview, Joel Coen said McDormand "may have felt she was pushing Marge's openness too far. That may have just been some insecurity, a need for feedback in terms of whether or not she was making the character real, as opposed to a caricature. But everything she did was grounded in reality and she had no need to worry."
What is “Minnesota Nice”?
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. There is also 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. In general, the accent was largely exaggerated.
What was unusual about Marge?
Many of Marge’s interactions play to her pregnancy. While looking at a scene of a crime, she hunches down. Lou, her police partner asks if she’s found something. She lets Lou know it’s morning sickness and it has passed. Despite being the leading protagonist, Marge Gunderson doesn't appear in Fargo until 33 minutes into the film. She is first introduced by receiving an early morning telephone call regarding a roadside homicide caused by Gaear Grimsrud and Carl Showalter which left three people dead including a Minnesota State Patrolman.
What is the name of Marge’s husband?
John Carroll Lynch portrayed Norm Gunderson in Fargo. He is a supportive husband and makes sure his wife eats well, as she is seven months pregnant. John Carroll Lynch is also known for his work on ABC sitcom The Drew Carey Show as the title character's cross-dressing brother, Steve Carey. His films include Face/Off, Gran Torino, Shutter Island, Ted 2, The Invitation, and Zodiac. He has also been a regular cast member on series such as Close to Home, Carnivàle, Body of Proof and Seasons 4, 5, and 6 of American Horror Story.
What does Norm do for a living?
Norm paints wildlife, specifically mallard ducks. At the end of the movie Norm's mallard painting is selected as the design for a US postage stamp. Every time we see him with Marge he's either eating with her or watching TV in bed with her. He is a very supportive, albeit undemonstrative husband.
Who says this? “Ah, hon, ya got Arby's all over me.”
Norm has brought Marge Arby’s for lunch. He is a very dotting husband who makes sure his wife eats every meal while she is pregnant. Besides bringing lunch in, Mage and Norm go out for lunch, especially when it’s a buffet. The item on the buffet line that Marge Gunderson skips is lutefisk, which is dried whitefish, cod or ling, that has been soaked in lye. It has a gelatinous texture and by all accounts, is an acquired taste, in part due to its smell. Madison, Minnesota claims to have the highest lutefisk consumption in the U.S., higher than in Scandanavia.
Which stamp does Norm get?
Marge and Norm root for each other and help each other out. Marge brings Norm a bag of worms for ice-fishing bait, and encourages him when his painting of mallard ducks only makes it onto the 3-cent stamp in a competition when another artist got the 29-cent stamp. However, you have to respect a man who can gaze into a bag of night crawlers and not let it interfere with lunch.
Was the story based on fact or was it fiction?
The film opens with the following text: “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.” However, the closing credits includes a disclaimer about “all persons are fictional”. The Coen brothers explained that they based their story on a criminal event, but basically made up the characters and relationships.
Who says this? “He’s funny-looking,” when describing the little guy?
Hooker #1 feels that "funny-looking" adequately sums up the appearance of Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi). Hooker #1 also noted that "the little guy" was not circumcised. Apart from that he was also funny looking. A dialogue coach, Larissa Kokernot, appeared onscreen playing prostitute #2.
Steve Buscemi played “the funny-looking guy”. What was the name of his character?
Carl Showalter is the funny-looking guy, who is also not circumcised and is small in stature. Buscemi has starred and played supporting roles in successful Hollywood and Indie films, including Parting Glances, New York Stories, Mystery Train, Reservoir Dogs, Desperado, Con Air, Armageddon, The Grey Zone, Ghost World, Big Fish, and The Sopranos. He is also known for his appearances in many films by the Coen brothers: Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, and The Big Lebowski. Buscemi provides the voice of Randall Boggs in the Monsters, Inc. franchise.
Who is the blond criminal who smokes and never talks?
After Carl tries and fails to bribe the state trooper while they have their ranson victim in the car, Gaear kills the trooper. When two passing eyewitnesses spot Carl disposing of the body, Gaear kills them as well. Gaear is played by Peter Stormare who is a Swedish-American actor, voice actor, theater director, playwright, and musician. He is well known for his role as John Abruzzi in the Fox series Prison Break.
Who said this? “Who the f**k are you?!”
Carl seems to say this a lot but it’s particularly important in the scene with Jerry’s father in law, Wade. When Carl is ready for the money exchange with Jerry, but Wade shows up instead, Carl says this line. Unfortunately for Wade, Carl has no patience for this new complication and shoots Wade.
Who plays himself in the movie?
Jose Feliciano plays the guitar in the movie. He is the entertainment that Carl and his escort attend. The Carlton Celebrity Room in Bloomington was used for the José Feliciano concert. One of the answers, Bruce Campbell, can be seen on the fuzzy TV screen in the kidnappers' cabin. The footage was not shot for this film, but was actually old footage of a regional soap opera in which Campbell appeared. Campbell was playing a soap opera character, and not himself.
What is the name of Jerry’s wife?
Jean Lundegaard, Jerry’s wife, is played by Kristin Rudrüd. Some of the accent comes honestly to Kristin, as she was born in Fargo ND. Rudrüd is married and has a daughter, and she still makes her home in Fargo.
What is the name of Jerry and Jean’s son?
Scotty is portrayed by Tony Denman. When we meet him in the movie, he wants to play hockey, a very popular sport in snowy climates like Fargo. Tony Denman also has appeared in other films including Little Big League, Angus, Blast, three National Lampoon movies, and many other films and TV shows.
Who is speaking to Jean? “He just ate - he didn't finish! He's goin' to McDonalds instead of finishin' here.” Jean: “He sees his friends there. It's okay.” “It's okay, MAC-Donalds. Heh. Whaddya think they do there? They don't drink milkshakes, I assure you.”
Scotty wants to go to McDonalds to hang out with his friends. It’s a common suburban scene. Usually with someone in the family disapproving. The Coens are great at creating real-life, relatable scenarios as well as the far-fetched. The Coens are from Minnesota, which they describe as “like Siberia, but with more family style restaurants.”
Who says this? “Prowler needs a jump.”
Marge says this to her husband, because she can’t go to work unless the Prowler is jumped. Frances McDormand, Marge, wore a "pregnancy pillow" filled with birdseed to simulate her pregnant belly. She says that she didn't deliberately try to move in a "pregnant" way, it simply came as a natural response to keeping the extra weight balanced.
Who is Marge talking to? Marge: “Hiya, ... Whoo! What ya got there?” “Thought you might need a little warm-up.” Marge: “Thanks a bunch. ... So, what's the deal? Gary says triple homicide.”
Officer Lou brings Marge a hot cup of coffee at the crime scene that could be a triple homicide. Speaking of the triple homicides, of the body count of seven people, five were killed by Gaear and two were killed by Carl. On the other side, the Chief of Police, Marge, only fires her gun twice in the whole movie.
Who is Carl talking to? Carl: “…what the hell are you doing?! I'm bangin' that girl!”[Slaps Carl and throws him over a couch] “F**king a**hole! Get the f**k out of here! Put me back in Stillwater you little f**king s**thead! Get the f**k out of here!”
Shep usually has one word answers and minimal dialog. This is the most he says in a scene. He is furious that Carl and his carelessness could get him sent back to Stillwater Prison. Speaking of dialogue, Gaear Grimsrud has 18 lines of dialogue in the entire movie and never says more than a complete sentence at one time. By comparison, Carl Showalter has over 150 lines of dialogue.
Who says this to Marge? “I liked you so much! You're such a super lady!”
While in Minneapolis, Marge reconnects with Mike Yanagita (Steve Park), an old classmate who takes her to dinner, tells her that his wife, another classmate, has died, and attempts to seduce her. Marge has none of this. Later, during a phone conversation with a mutual friend, Marge learns that Yanagita's dead wife was never his wife, nor is she dead, and that Yanagita is the perpetrator behind a long series of anonymous harassment.
Who says this? “You're darn tootin'!”
Jerry was such a nice, friendly character… until he wanted to ransom his wife. He would always say this catch phrase. William H. Macy begged the directors for the role of Jerry Lundegaard. He did two readings for the part, and became convinced he was the best man for the role. When the Coens didn't get back to him, he flew to New York (where they were starting production) and said, "I'm very, very worried that you are going to screw up this movie by giving this role to somebody else. It's my role, and I'll shoot your dogs if you don't give it to me." He was joking, of course.
From where to hide the money, to cars sliding off the road...the snow and cold weather was another character in the movie. What was unusual about the filming?
The region was experiencing its second-warmest winter in 100 years. Filming of outdoor scenes had to be moved all over Minnesota, North Dakota, and Canada. In fact, nothing was filmed in or near Fargo. The scene where Carl changes license plates with another car at the airport’s overnight parking garage was created with fake snow.
Who says this? “So ya went and married Norm Son-of-a-Gunderson!”
Steve Park (Mike Yanagita, Marge’s high school classmate) was criticized by some Asian Americans for playing this role. In response Park said, “Not every Asian character has to be heroic, so long as the character is authentic.” Park started out as a stand up comedian in New York and went on to be a series regular on “In Living Color.” The actor has been active in working against racial stereotyping in the media and has received the Anna May Wong Award of Excellence for his efforts.
Who says this? “Well, heck, if you wanna play games here! I'm workin' with ya on this thing, but I... Okay, I'll do a damned lot count!”
Jerry says this to Marge. He is flustered because Marge is getting closer and closer to the truth. Earlier in the movie Jerry is working with some irate customers who want to pick up their new car but now have to pay for Trucoat. The scene where the couple tries to make a deal with Jerry is based on Director, Ethan Coen's real-life encounter with a car salesman. "[It's] almost a verbatim transcript of my experience."
Who says this? Oh, f*** it, I don't have to talk either, man! See how you like it. Just total f***in' silence. Two can play at that game, smart guy. We'll just see how you like it. Total silence.
Carl needs to be distracted with conversation, television, anything. But his partner is NOT a conversationalist. In fact, he hardly utters a single word. Steve Buscemi plays the role of Carl to perfection. In fact, the role of Carl Showalter was written specifically for Steve Buscemi.
Who says this? “I'm not gonna debate you, Jerry.” Jerry: “Okay” “I’m not gonna sit here and debate you.”
Carl needs to feel like he is in charge. And Jerry goes along with most anything. Macy who portrayed Jerry, liked the character, saying “He sets the plan, he is sure it will work and despite all information to the contrary, he never deviates from it. Gotta love somebody that has that kind of faith. On other hand, he’s dumb as a pile of rocks.”
Who says this? “There's more to life than a little money, ya know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are. And it's a beautiful day. Well. I just don't understand it.”
Marge says this to Carl as he is disposing Jean Lundegaard and his associate. Or as Marge says, “And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper.” That scene was so memorable, that the wood chipper used in the film is on display at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitor Center.
What type of place does Gaear Grimsrud want to stop at, on the way to Brainerd?
Grimsrud wants to know “Where is Pancakes House?” even though they had pancakes for breakfast. Food was important to this character and also to the actor, Peter Stormare, who grew up in Sweden. Stormare mentioned that in the village where he grew up, he had to drive an hour and a half to get a pizza.
Who says this? [rubbing Margie's pregnant stomach] Two more months.Marge Gunderson: [smiling] Two more months.
Norm says this. Marge has put all the violence and bloodshed behind her and she and Norm are concentrating on the upcoming due date. These are the last two lines of the movie.
What category (categories) did the movie win at the Academy Awards?
With seven nominations including for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (William H. Macy) Best Cinematography and Film Editing, the film won two awards. They won the Academy Award for Best Actress – Frances McDormand and for writing the Best Original Screenplay – Joel and Ethan Coen.
How did the film fare in the Golden Globes Awards?
Although the film was nominated for four awards, it did not win any. The nominations included Best Motion Picture for a Musical or Comedy, Best Director for a Motion Picture – Joel Coen, Best Actress for a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy – Frances McDormand and Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture – Joel and Ethan Coen
Where did Fargo premier?
Fargo premiered at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival where Joel Coen won the festival's Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director Award) and the film was nominated for the Palme d'Or. The film went on to be a critical and commercial success. On a budget of $7 million it earned box office sales of $60.6 million.
The film captured the look and feel of life in the far north. How was it memorialized?
In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", making it one of six films to have been preserved in their first year of eligibility. In addition, The American Film Institute named it one of the 100 greatest American movies of all time in 1998.
Is there a sequel to the movie?
The film was followed by the FX television series created and written by Noah Hawley, with the Coen brothers acting as executive producers. It debuted on FX in April 2014. The first season received high acclaim from critics and audiences. Existing in the same fictional universe as the film with each season featuring a different story, cast, and era. The episode "Eating the Blame" reintroduces the buried ransom money for a minor three-episode subplot.
What other accolades did the film receive?
All of the above. But the best accolade of all is when the city that is represented in the movie celebrates the making of the movie. On March 1, 2006, for the film's tenth anniversary, the first annual Fargo Film Festival screened Fargo by projecting the film onto the side of the Radisson Hotel (the city's tallest building) in downtown Fargo. The city repeated the event on September 29, 2011.
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