John Turturro took classes at a secretarial school to learn how to use a typewriter for the role. Between takes, he wrote a rough outline for Romance & Cigarettes (2005), written on the typewriter he used in the film. The Coen brothers executive produced that film.
The picture of the girl at the beach hanging on Barton's hotel room wall is recreated in episode 3 of season 3 of the TV series Fargo. In Los Angeles to investigate a murder, the Minnesota police officer takes a side trip to the beach.
The last line of 'Bare Ruined Choirs' -- "We'll be hearing from that kid, and I don't mean a postcard" -- is also the final line in Barton's screenplay, 'The Burlyman', although when the detective reads the script, the line reads, "We'll be hearing from that crazy wrestler, and I don't mean a postcard."
The title of Barton Fink's play 'Bare Ruined Choirs' is from William Shakespeare's Sonnet #73, the first 4 lines of which are "That time of year thou mayest in me behold, When yellow leaves or none or few do hang, Upon those boughs that shake against the cold, Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet bird sang".
With a writer coming unhinged in a phantasmagorical hotel setting, Barton Fink bears a resemblance to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining - complete with ominous shots running the length of the corridor. One such shot features pairs of men's shoes awaiting retrieval outside of every door, which suggests an innocuous explanation for the earlier movie's title.
The end credits give thanks to the " golden throat of William Preston Robertson". This actor has never physically performed in any picture, but has lend his golden voice to "Blood Simple", "Raising Arizona" and "Miller's Crossing" . He also provided the drunken howl sounds in "Barton Fink¨ : ¨ ... where's my honey...". So these drunken howl shouting scenes in "Barton Fink" were not actually voiced by actor John Mahoney himself, because he is overdubbed by the "golden throat" of William Preston Robertson.
In his play, "Bare Ruined Choirs", Barton's characters are named Lil, Maury, and Dave. According to the original script, these are also the names of his parents and uncle, although in the film, his father's name is Sam.
Bill Geisler's office is the same one used for the character of Griffin Mill in Robert Altman's The Player (1992). Furthermore, the two characters at some point utter the same line: "Whaddaya got for me?" in reference to a screenwriter's output.
At one point, Fink says to Charlie that his play works are about common people like Charlie, and extends his reasoning by saying that the hopes and dreams of the simple man are just as noble as the ones from a king. That same year, John Goodman, who plays Charlie in this film, later played a common man who becomes a king in King Ralph (1991).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The ending with the bird diving into the sea wasn't intentional. According to Ethan Coen and Joel Coen the bird got in the shot and they liked it so much, they decided to put it in. Birds also helped the Coens in Miller's Crossing (1990), and Fargo (1996).
Karl E. Mundt (Charlie Meadows' murderous alter ego) was also the name of a U.S. Representative who became vice chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Beginning in the late 1940s, HUAC crushed the livelihoods of screenwriters, actors, etc. who had alleged socialist leanings, as Barton Fink clearly did in the film. The nickname "Madman Mundt" recalls the flamboyant Los Angeles car dealer and TV pitchman "Madman" Earl Muntz.
A symbolism follows Barton when he arrives at the hotel and also when he departs. When of its arrival at the Californian hotel a superimposed image of the ocean precedes his entrance in the place (water). By the time he's s checking out of there, the whole corridor is engulfed with flames (fire), which also resonates as a hell-like place when the number six was mentioned three times when he got to the hotel.
After spending the night with Audrey (Judy Davis), Barton waked up to find out that she has died violently during the night, but with no recollection of what happened. This is the premise of HBO miniseries The Night Of, where John Turturro (Barton) co-stars as the lawyer.