In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, John Goodman stated that The Dude referring to The Big Lebowski as a "human paraquat" was one of the only improvised lines to make it into the final film. Virtually every other line, including every "man" and "dude", was scripted.
Before filming a scene, Jeff Bridges would frequently ask the Coen brothers "Did the Dude burn one on the way over?" If they said he had, he would rub his knuckles in his eyes before doing a take to make his eyes appear bloodshot.
In an early draft of the script, The Dude's source of income was revealed. He was an heir to the inventor of the Rubik's Cube, which would have also made him Hungarian in turn. It was Joel Coen's idea to drop this and never say.
In a 2013 interview with Terry Gross, Joel Coen told a story about having recently been at a movie theater in San Francisco, California, where they saw a booth displaying Lebowski posters. Ethan Coen asked the teenage girl there what was going on, and she proceeded to tell him about the theater's nightly screenings of the movie. She said that people come dressed in costumes, "and you should come and you'll like it, it's fun." She had no idea that the two men had made the movie.
In the "clean" version, for television broadcast, the famous line "This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!" was changed to "This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!" It's frequently cited as one of the most "creative" edits made for a film to be aired on television.
The Dude (Jeff Bridges) tells Maude (Julianne Moore) he was a roadie for Metallica on their (fictional) "Speed of Sound" tour and refers to the band members as a "bunch of assholes". Metallica themselves were flattered to be referred to in a Coen Brothers movie, with guitarist Kirk Hammett once noting in an interview that they'd tried to think of a way to incorporate that scene into their live shows.
When being interviewed for Inside the Actors Studio (1994), Jeff Bridges met with the Coen Brothers after reading the script and asked them "Did you guys hang out with me in high school?" referring to the Dude's easygoing surfer persona.
T Bone Burnett acted as music consultant for the movie, and helped Joel Coen and Ethan Coen establish the Dude's taste in music. Burnett selected many of the existing songs in the movie, and also suggested the Dude's hatred towards The Eagles (Burnett himself is not a fan either). One of the band's members, Glenn Frey, was reportedly so dismayed about this that he once even angrily confronted Jeff Bridges when they met at a party.
The Dude's line, "The Dude abides", is a reference to Ecclesiastes 1:4, "One generation passes away, and another generation comes: but the Earth abides forever." It is a reference to how the Dude, much like the Earth, can weather change and chaos around him, but still remain the same.
After having been cast in the film, Jeff Bridges, no stranger to working on films that would have constant script re-writes, called John Goodman to ask when they'd get the re-writes. Goodman, a longtime collaborator of the Coens, told Bridges that this film was Coen territory, and they didn't re-write their own material.
The reason Donny (Steve Buscemi) is constantly being told to "Shut the fuck up!" by Walter (John Goodman), is because Buscemi's character in Fargo (1996), also directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, was such a mouthy chatterbox.
One of the inspirations for the character of Walter is the Coen Brothers' friend, writer and director John Milius, an infamously bombastic right-winger with an obsession with all things militaristic, and an enthusiasm for guns. His girth, beard, hair style, and shades are also all reflected in Walter's physical appearance. The Coens had tried to cast Milius in Barton Fink (1991) in the part eventually played by Michael Lerner.
As The Dude writes the sixty-nine cent check at Ralph's, he watches George H.W. Bush give the "This aggression will not stand" press interview live on television. President Bush gave the interview on the White House lawn on Sunday, August 5, 1990, three days after the Iraqi Army invaded Kuwait. The Dude's check, however, is dated September 11, 1991, indicating that The Dude is so broke that he had to post-date a sixty-nine cent check by over one year.
Da Fino refers to himself as a "brother seamus", a term which confuses The Dude. This was a popular term for a private investigator when Raymond Chandler wrote the stories on which this film is loosely based.
John Turturro originally thought he was going to have a bigger role in the film. When he read the script, he realized the part was quite small. However, the Coen brothers let him come up with a lot of his own ideas for the character, like shining the bowling ball and the scene where he dances backwards, which he says was inspired by Muhammad Ali.
The Dude calls The Big Lebowski a "human paraquat". Paraquat is an herbicide. During the late 1970s, a controversial program sponsored by the U.S. Government sprayed paraquat on marijuana fields in Mexico.
When they started writing the script, the Coens wrote only forty pages and then let it sit for a while before finishing it. This is a normal writing process for them, because they often "encounter a problem at a certain stage, we pass to another project, then we come back to the first script. That way we've already accumulated pieces for several future movies."
The Dude has a habit of repeating phrases he hears from other characters. The George Bush speech "This aggression will not stand" is repeated by The Dude to the Big Lebowski. Brandt tells The Dude that "her life is in your hands", which The Dude repeats during the ransom delivery. Walter tells The Dude that "nothing is fu--ed"; The Dude repeats it in the limo. Maude Lebowski uses the phrase "Parlance of our times"; The Dude repeats this one in the limo as well. The Big Lebowski says he "will not abide another toe!"; at the end of the movie "The Dude abides". He threatens Larry with genital mutilation, like the nihilists did in his bathroom. In fact, many of the main characters do the same thing, except not always with phrases they've heard. For example, the Treehorn thugs say "Do you see what happens, Lebowski?" when Woo is peeing on the rug, and Walter says "Do you see what happens, Larry?" when he is smashing the Corvette. Walter says "The Chinaman is not the issue here!" in the bowling alley, and then, in the next scene, the Big Lebowski says "My wife is not the issue here!". Jesus Quintana uses the phrase "I fu--ed you in the a-s", and this is later repeatedly shouted by one of the nihilists, and re-phrased by Walter as "This is what happens when you fu-k a stranger in the a-s!" Perhaps the most repeated phrase, "what the fu-k are you talking about?" is first used by The Dude in the first bowling scene, and then repeated and paraphrased throughout the movie by The Dude, Walter, Donny, and Da Fino (Jon Polito).
According to a local newspaper in Akron, Ohio, the "Medina Sod" bowling shirt The Dude wears in the movie is a real 1960s bowling shirt found in a thrift store in Los Angeles. It belonged to a man named Art Myers, who was the foreman at Medina Sod in Medina, Ohio.
There are only four exchanges where the Dude speaks directly to Donny, as he largely ignores him. The first is in the bowling alley at the beginning, when Donny asks "What are we talking about?" twice, to which the Dude responds "My rug!" twice. The second is as the Dude is walking home from the bowling alley, Donny asks "Where you going, Dude?", to which he says "Home, Donny". Then Donny says, "Phone's ringin' Dude", and the Dude responds, "Thank you Donny". Lastly, when Donny asks "They were Nazis Dude?" the Dude replies "No Donny, they were nihilists, they kept saying they believed in nothing."
The private detective that's following Lebowski says that Bunny's family is from a farm "outside Moorhead, Minnesota". Moorhead is the home town of Jeff Bridges' wife, and is located directly across the state line from Fargo, North Dakota. (Fargo (1996) was the title of the Coen brothers' previous film). Bunny's high school cheerleading photo shows her wearing orange and black, the real school colors of Moorhead.
The diner in which Walter and The Dude have a cup of coffee during the toe scene is the same diner from the later scenes of American History X (1998). It is located at Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, California. It's called Johnie's Coffee Shop, and has long been closed. It's only used for filming.
When we're introduced to The Dude's (bowling) archnemesis Jesus, a flamenco version of The Eagles song "Hotel California" plays (and is portrayed as playing on the bowling alley's PA system). Later, we learn in the taxicab scene that The Dude "hates the fuckin' Eagles, man."
Julianne Moore was sent the script while working on The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). She worked only two weeks on the film, early and late during the production that went from January to April 1997 while Sam Elliott was only on-set for two days, and did many takes of his final speech.
Initially, Allen Klein wanted $150,000 for the use of "Dead Flowers" by The Rolling Stones, but he so adored the scene where The Dude talks about hating "the fu-king Eagles", he waived the licensing fee.
The man shown bowling in the picture on The Dude's wall is President Richard Nixon. Nixon was an avid bowler; the picture in the movie is a well-publicized shot of Nixon in the bowling alley underneath the White House.
To achieve the point-of-view of a rolling bowling ball, the Coen brothers mounted a camera "on something like a barbecue spit", according to Ethan Coen, and then dollied it along the lane. The challenge for them was figuring out the relative speeds of the forward motion and the rotating motion. CGI was used to create the vantage point of the thumb hole in the bowling ball.
The scene in which Walter throws the ringer out of the window was actually filmed backwards and reversed in post-production. After several failed attempts to successfully throw the briefcase in a perfect arc, the driver was told to back up while an off-screen crewmember threw the suitcase to the driver.
Almost all of the music on the soundtrack is revealed to be playing on a radio at some point, the official term for this concept is "diegesis". Examples: "The Man in Me" in the first dream sequence fades out after The Dude wakes up, but we still hear it, tinny and distant on his Walkman. "Hotel California" plays throughout the entire scene with Jesus at the bowling alley, and even during the brief flashback, apparently as a song playing on the alley's PA system. The big band music that plays as The Dude leaves his house fades and is heard playing on Da Fino's car radio as they talk. Additionally, at the beginning of the film, the opening song, "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds", fades into a muzak version of itself as The Dude shops for his half and half in the grocery store; when it cuts to The Dude outside the store, the song has faded back into its original version.
Originally, John Goodman wanted a different kind of beard for Walter, but the Coen brothers insisted on the "Gladiator", or what they called the "Chin Strap", and he thought it would go well with his flattop haircut.
The Coen Brothers were inspired by several sources and stories. Possibly the leading source was their friend Peter Exline, who coined the phrase "It really tied the room together" to describe one of his own rugs. Pete and a friend of his "Big" Lew Abernathy (a private detective who the Coens didn't know) are considered to be the partial basis for the character Walter. Pete, a Vietnam veteran and college professor, once jokingly tried to scare his students by exclaiming "First Vietnam, now this?!" while hitting a chair, similar to the way Walter (non-jokingly) inappropriately compares everything to Vietnam. Pete also told the Coens about a story where his car was stolen and Abernathy helped him investigate. They found the homework of a fourteen-year-old, and instead of telling the police, they put the homework in a plastic bag and drove out to the kid's home to confront him (though unlike the movie, the kid did not actually steal the car, and Abernathy did not end the confrontation by bashing a car outside the kid's house). Another story related by Pete was the time that Abernathy was arraigned by a Santa Monica Sheriff, who, as in the movie, insulted him and told him to "stay out of my beach community!"
The fictional German techno-pop band in the movie, Autobahn, is a parody of (or homage to) the legendary electronic band Kraftwerk. The Autobahn album cover is stylistically similar to the cover of the Kraftwerk album "The Man-Machine", and the group name Autobahn is the name of a Kraftwerk song. The title of Autobahn's album "Nagelbett" is German for "nail bed". In Swedish, Peter Stormare's native tongue, it means "nail bite".
Nearly all of the visible symbols in The Dude's second dream sequence are taken from earlier scenes: The initial scene of The Dude's exaggerated walking while casting a big shadow is similar to his landlord's interpretive dance to "Pictures at an Exhibition"; the black and white tiled floor is seen earlier in the Big Lebowski's entry way when The Dude walks with Brandt, and again at the end; the tool belt and workman outfit The Dude is seen wearing is identical to the one worn by Karl Hungus (Peter Stormare) in Logjammin'; Saddam Hussein, who is standing behind the counter, is mentioned briefly by Walter in the car outside the bowling alley, we hear President George H.W. Bush comment on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and in the opening credits, we see a man looking a bit similar to Saddam spraying the bowling shoes at the alley; Maude's gold bowling ball bra cups are taken from bowling balls seen on the rack behind Walter in an earlier scene at the bowling alley; Maude Lebowski's trident is from a statue at The Big Lebowski's house; the red-on-black bowling ball is the same as the one in the earlier dream sequence and is also visible on the rack behind Walter and The Dude at the bowling alley; the topless girl falling through a black frame is almost the same shot that opened the scene in which The Dude shows up at Jackie Treehorn's party; the scissors wielded by the red-clad nihilists are seen in a painting with a red background on Maude's wall.
The Dude's car is a 4-door 1973 Ford Torino. Two vehicles were used in filming. One was destroyed during the filming, the other was destroyed in the filming of The X-Files (1993) season eight, episode nine, "Salvage".
The Dude was based on independent film promoter Jeff "The Dude" Dowd, who helped the Coen brothers secure distribution for their first feature, Blood Simple (1984). Like his fictional counterpart, Dowd was a member of the Seattle Seven, and takes a casual approach to grooming and dress. The Port Huron Statement that The Dude refers to himself as being one of the original authors of, is a real document and statement written by The Students for a Democratic Society at a national convention meeting in, Michigan, June 11-15, 1962. Jeff Dowd was not one of those students, being twelve-years-old, as he was born on November 20, 1949.
With their characteristic mix of fact and fiction, the Coen Brothers' blend mention of the real-life television series Branded (1965) with the name of the show's supposed writer, the (fictional) character in the iron lung, Arthur Digby Sellers (whose name does not correspond to that of any actual major contributor of the show). Also, elsewhere in the movie, when The Dude is drunk in the back of a Malibu police car, he sings the show's theme song.
While urinating on The Dude's rug, the Treehorn thug says "Ever thus to deadbeats, Lebowski!" This is a play on the Latin phrase "Sic semper tyrannis!" (Thus always to tyrants!), which was allegedly spoken by the murderers of Gaio Giulio Cesare and Abraham Lincoln during the assassinations.
The Little Lebowski Shop, now closed, was a store devoted exclusively to the film that was in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. The store sold merchandise related to the film such as memorabilia and t-shirts of the characters.
The house in which The Dude meets with Jackie Treehorn was designed by architect John Lautner. It has been used in many other Hollywood productions as well as fashion shoots. The movie makes it look as though it sits on the beach, when in actuality, it rests on the side of a hill overlooking the city of Los Angeles. The house and its interior decoration were donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2016 by owner James Goldstein, for the purpose of turning it into a museum.
According to Alex Belth, who wrote the e-book, "The Dudes Abide", on his time spent working as an assistant to the Coen Brothers, casting the role of Jeffrey Lebowski was one of the last decisions made before filming. Names tossed around for the role included Robert Duvall (who passed because he wasn't fond of the script), Anthony Hopkins (who passed, since he had no interest in playing an American), and Gene Hackman (who was taking a break at the time). A second "wish list" included an oddball "who's who", including Norman Mailer, George C. Scott, Jerry Falwell, Gore Vidal, Andy Griffith, William F. Buckley, and Ernest Borgnine. The Coens' ultimate Big Lebowski, however, was Marlon Brando. The Coens amused themselves by quoting some of their favorite Jeffrey Lebowski lines ("Strong men also cry") in a Brando imitation.
Jesus Quintana was inspired, in part, by a performance the Coens had seen John Turturro give in 1988, at the Public Theater in a play called Mi Puta Vida in which he played a pederast-type character, "so we thought, let's make Turturro a pederast. It'll be something he can really run with", Joel said in an interview.
Roger Deakins described the look of the fantasy scenes as being very crisp, monochromatic, and highly lit in order to afford greater depth of focus. However, with The Dude's apartment, Deakins said, "it's kind of seedy and the light's pretty nasty" with a grittier look. The visual bridge between these two different looks was how he photographed the night scenes. Instead of adopting the usual blue moonlight or blue street lamp look, he used an orange sodium-light effect.
The Dude meets a lot of new people throughout the story, outside his "tribe". But only four, Brandt, Jackie Treehorn, the bartender in the bowling alley, and The Stranger (Sam Elliott) show enough "respect" for him to call him "Dude".
The lawyers that The Dude mentions are William Kunstler and Ronald Kuby, who are radical attorneys noted for defending numerous controversial defendants, including suspected terrorist leaders and the daughter of Malcolm X.
The shot of Da Fino parked in his Volkswagen Beetle, seen in The Dude's rear-view mirror, is almost identical to the shot of the private investigator's car in the Coen Brother's first film, Blood Simple (1984).
When The Dude and Walter are bowling after the botched ransom drop off, Walter says "Eitz chaim hi, Dude, as the ex used to say." This is the first half of a Hebrew verse, which means "It is a tree of life" (the second half of the verse is "lamachazikim ba", which means "to those who take hold of it") and it refers to the Old Testament.
The Dude's reference to a White Russian cocktail as a "Caucasian" does not refer to the white race in general, but to the residents of an area of the Russian Federation known as the Caucasus, the name of which is derived from an ancient language word for "white with snow" (white Russians).
Cinematographer Roger Deakins discussed the look of the film with the Coen Brothers during pre-production. They told him that they wanted some parts of the film to have a real and contemporary feeling and other parts, like the dream sequences, to have a very stylized look.
There is a Lebowski Bar In Reykjavik, Iceland located at Laugavegur 20a that offers multiple variations of the White Russian and other menu options named for the characters and phrases from the movie. The interior is bowling themed and adorned with rugs such as the one from the movie.
The bowling alley scenes were filmed at the former Holly Star Lanes near Santa Monica and the U.S. 101 freeway exit ramp. The bowling alley has since been torn down and a new elementary school stands in its place.
The Coen Brothers have repeatedly shot down anything vaguely resembling the idea of writing and directing a sequel, with Joel Coen flatly stating, "I just don't like sequels." Still, the rumors persist, and they reached a fever pitch in October of 2014 when unfounded claims that a sequel would start filming in January 2015 started swirling around the internet. However, John Turturro felt that his character needed more screentime and has been bothering the Coen Brothers to revisit the character for years, or at least give him permission to go ahead and direct some kind of Jesus-centric spin-off.
The photo that the private investigator shows The Dude of Bunny Lebowski's farm is the same one shown in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1967). Oddly enough, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman (Brandt) portrayed the eponymous author in Capote (2005), and Mark Pellegrino (Blond Treehorn Thug) played Richard Eugene "Dick" Hickock (one of the murderers of that farm's inhabitants) in Capote (2005).
Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers plays a character in a band called Autobahn, which is a jab at the German band Kraftwerk (Kraftwerk had a single called "Autobahn"). The two bands played venues together in the '80s.
The significance of the bowling culture was, according to Joel Coen, "important in reflecting that period at the end of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties. That suited the retro side of the movie, slightly anachronistic, which sent us back to a not-so-far-away era, but one that was well and truly gone nevertheless."
The film's overall structure was influenced by the detective fiction of Raymond Chandler. Ethan Coen said, "We wanted something that would generate a certain narrative feeling, like a modern Raymond Chandler story, and that's why it had to be set in Los Angeles. We wanted to have a narrative flow, a story that moves like a Chandler book through different parts of town and different social classes." The use of the Stranger's voice-over also came from Chandler as Joel remarked, "He is a little bit of an audience substitute. In the movie adaptation of Chandler, it's the main character that speaks off-screen, but we didn't want to reproduce that though it obviously has echoes. It's as if someone was commenting on the plot from an all-seeing point of view, and at the same time, rediscovering the old earthiness of a Mark Twain."
The notorious Lebowski rug was such a central part of the film, the Coen Brothers even participated in an interview with Floor Covering Weekly while promoting the movie. In a DVD extra, Ethan Coen notes that producer Joel Silver thought the film should end with The Dude getting his rug back, but the Coens never followed through.
For Jackie Treehorn's Malibu beach house, Richard Heinrich was inspired by late 1950s and early 1960s bachelor pad furniture. The Coen brothers told Heinrichs that they wanted Treehorn's beach party to be Inca-themed, with a "very Hollywood-looking party in which young, oiled-down, fairly aggressive men walk around with appetizers and drinks. So there's a very sacrificial quality to it."
For the film's look, the Coens wanted to avoid the usual retro 1960s clichés like lava lamps, Day-Glo posters, and Grateful Dead music and for it to be "consistent with the whole bowling thing, we wanted to keep the movie pretty bright and poppy", Joel said in an interview. For example, the star motif featured predominantly throughout the film, started with Production Designer Richard Heinrichs' design for the bowling alley. According to Joel Coen, he "came up with the idea of just laying free-form neon stars on top of it and doing a similar free-form star thing on the interior." This carried over to the film's dream sequences. "Both dream sequences involve star patterns and are about lines radiating to a point. In the first dream sequence, The Dude gets knocked out and you see stars and they all coalesce into the overhead nightscape of Los Angeles. The second dream sequence is an astral environment with a backdrop of stars", remembers Heinrichs. For Jackie Treehorn's Malibu beach house, he was inspired by late 1950s and early 1960s bachelor pad furniture.
Nihilist #1, Uli Kunkel/"Karl Hungus" (Peter Stormare) sits in the diner with the group of nihilists, and all of them order pancakes. His character in Fargo (1996) was very insistent on getting pancakes as well.
Although John Goodman denies it, Jeff Bridges claims that he and John ad-libbed most of their dialogue. This may be true, due to the fact that they often interrupt their own lines and stutter in the film.
In 2014, Texas Supreme Court Justice Debra Lehrmann cited the movie in a legal decision on a freedom of speech case. Lehrmann noted that it's common knowledge that prior restraint, or censorship prior to an expression taking place, has been largely rejected by "the Supreme Court, this Court, Texas courts of appeals, legal treatises, and even popular culture." A footnote attached quoted Walter Sobchak's claim that "the Supreme Court has roundly rejected prior restraint."
Although the dialogue mentions In-N-Out several times, the hamburgers and drinks consumed by the characters in the car are not wrapped or contained in the (still privately owned) company's distinctive food wrapping paper or cups.
Most of The Dude's clothes were obtained at local thrift stores - the kind of places the character would have gone. Costume designer Mary Zophres later said, "There was one line in the script that said he was 'terminally relaxed,' and that was the most important piece of information that I had."
The check that The Dude writes in the beginning of the movie, for only sixty-nine cents, is post-dated. He clearly writes the date as 9/11/91 and when he speaks to his landlord later in the movie, the landlord reminds him that "tomorrow is the tenth."
Jeff Bridges claimed The Dude was pretty much who he'd been in the 1970s. But unlike the character of Walter for John Goodman, the Coens did not have anyone particular in mind for The Dude while they were writing the script. Once Bridges's name came up, the casting seemed unavoidable. But the actor often takes a lot of time before committing to a project - "He danced around it a while," Joel Coen claimed in a 2001 interview - and the brothers tackled Fargo (1996) after The Hudsucker Proxy (1994) primarily because they were waiting for Bridges's schedule to clear.
Woo and Blond switch shirts in their two scenes. In the first, Woo wears a sleeveless plaid shirt and Blond wears a gray tank top. In the second, Woo wears the gray tank top, while Blond wears the sleeveless plaid shirt.
Walter tells The Dude that Arthur Digby Sellers wrote for the show Branded (1965). "one hundred fifty-six episodes. Bulk of the show", he states. The series only lasted two seasons. Which accounts for forty-six total episodes.
The white shoes The Dude wore are commonly mistaken for Adidas because of the three parallel black stripes. These lines are actually connected at the base, a recognizeable design feature of the athletic/martial-arts sneakers made by Otomix. The Dude wears an early version of their M100 model.
In the bathroom scene the Treehorn thug tells the Dude that his wife, Bunny, owes money to Jackie Treehorn. The Dude says "My wife? Bunny? Do you see a wedding ring on my finger?". He actually holds up his right hand which wouldn't have a wedding band.
The noises heard while the bowling alley's neon lights illuminate the black after the Nihilists confront the Dude, Walter, and Donny in the bowling alley parking lot reference the tape of whale sounds that The Dude is listening to during his bath earlier in the film.
John Turturro, in a 1/30/09 conversation with Robert LuPone, stated that his friendship with the Coen Brothers-- having worked with them on several films prior-- made him more comfortable with suggesting ideas for his performance as Jesus. Among his contributions were the nail, the hairnet, the licking of his bowling ball and using the device to shine his balls-- which he says the Coen Brothers both particularly enjoyed--and his dance. Turturro stated that the extra time they had allocated that day allowed for such casual improvisation, and he was uncertain how much would actually be used. Upon seeing the finished cut of the film, Turturro admitted to being amused yet embarrassed by his performance, remarking that people may be playing clips of the character at his funeral. He has also said that he has been asked since by other directors to do similar improv, to which he has declined.
A poster-sized photo on the Dude's wall is of Richard Nixon bowling. When he assumed office Nixon had an underground one-lane bowling alley installed. While most counter culture folk of the Dude's generation hated Nixon, the Dude is so laid-back that only cares about the bowling.
Originally scheduled for a Christmas 1997 release, Polygram moved the film out of the crowded holiday frame to March 1998, where it opened in the same frame as the Coen Brothers' Oscar-winning Fargo (1996).
In the scene where Walter pulls out a gun on Smokey, it's over him crossing the line when bowling. This parallels Iraq's border crossing into Kuwait, which prompted the Gulf War and very much thematic throughout the film. President Bush spoke of a new world order, which is also symbolic of the Statue of Liberty. In the background of the scene when Walter has the gun pointed in his face, there is a seven pointed light, looking much like the crown on Liberty.
Steve Buscemi played a sidekick to the anti-hero in Escape from L.A. (1996) opposite Kurt Russell as anti-hero Snake Plissken. Coincidently, Jeff Bridges was considered for and offered the role of Snake Plissken in Escape from New York (1981), but was uninterested and turned it down, as did his good friends Nick Nolte and Tommy Lee Jones. Russell, who was also a good friend of Bridges, got the role because he had worked with John Carpenter before, and was Carpenter's choice for the role. Bridges was also considered for the lead role of MacReady in The Thing (1982), but turned it down. It too went to Kurt Russell under John Carpenter's direction. It became a cult classic, as did Escape from New York (1981) and this movie. Bridges worked and became friends with Carpenter on Starman (1984), which earned him an Oscar nomination.
John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro appeared in Transformers: The Last Knight (2017). John Goodman reprises his role as the voice of Hound and Turturro reprises his role as former agent Seymour Simmons. Steve provides the voice of a junk collector Autobot Daytrader.
The sixty-nine cent check The Dude writes at Ralph's for half and half is dated September 11, 1991, exactly ten years before the 9/11 attacks. While he is writing the check, President George H.W. Bush can be heard on the television railing against Saddam Hussein. The film was released in 1998, three years before September 2001.
When The Dude and Walter are pulling away from the strip mall where Walter's business is located to do the hand-off with the nihilists, a Del Taco restaurant is visible in the background. This Del Taco was located on the corner of Highland Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, and has since been demolished to make room for a CVS Pharmacy.
Two coincidence connections of having the Clutter House from Truman Capote's true life novel "In Cold Blood" as the photo of Bunny Lebowski's farm is that Mark Pellegrino played one of the killers, while Philip Seymour Hoffman played the title role in Capote (2005).
Larry Cohen the real writer of "Branded" bristles at the notion that he was portrayed in the movie as a man in an iron lung. Larry Cohen is also the creator of "Coronet Blue" and writer director of cult classic "The Stuff"
When the Persian rug is shown, the music in the background is "Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles" from the Clear Spot album by Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band. Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) was a childhood friend of Frank Zappa and most of whose music was extremely bizarre.
Although John Goodman and Steve Buscemi were the Coens' first choices for the roles of Walter and Donny when they wrote the script, they didn't have any particular actor in mind for the role of The Dude. One possibility that did come up early on was Mel Gibson, then one of the biggest stars in the world. Ultimately Gibson didn't take their pitch too seriously, and the Coens moved on with their Dude search.
John Goodman, John Turturro, and Steve Buscemi later played in the live-action Transformers movie franchise. John Turturro played as Agent Simmons. While Goodman and Buscemi voiced both Autobot Hound and Daytrader respectively.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
the last time Donny bowls, he seems genuinely surprised not to get a strike. He sits and feels his bowling arm. Sudden numbness, tingling, or weakness of the arm is a telltale sign of an impending heart attack, which he experiences soon thereafter.
Despite showing little hesitation to argue with and challenge numerous major and secondary characters throughout the film-- The Dude, Donny, Smokey, Larry Sellers, the Coffee Shop Waitress, Jeffrey Lebowski, the Nihilists, the Funeral Director-- Jesus is the one character that Walter does not talk back to or challenge/confront, and only speaks ill of him privately to The Dude.
(These are also spoilers for Miller's Crossing (1990) and Fargo (1996)) After Steve Buscemi's character has died and is being remembered, all that remains of him are his ashes which blow all over The Dude when Walter scatters them at the ocean. This is part of a three-movie running gag where the visible remains of Buscemi's characters get smaller and smaller. In Miller's Crossing (1990), Buscemi is last seen as a whole dead body on the ground, and in Fargo (1996), all that remains of him is a severed leg being fed into a wood chipper by his killer (played by Peter Stormare, who also portrayed one of the nihilists here.)
Throughout the movie Donnie consistently rolls strikes. In his final bowling scene Donnie rolls a spare, something that obviously confuses him from his facial expression. This is a possible hint that something bad will occur to him and after leaving the bowling ally he suffers a fatal heart attack during the nihilist fight scene. Right after bowling the spare Donnie can also be seen sitting with the Dude and Walter feeling his arm, another hint of the oncoming fate.
The last time Donny bowls before he dies, he rolls his only spare in the film, leaving the 8-pin standing. When he returns to his seat, the clock shows 7:52 - eight minutes until 8:00. This being the Coen's seventh film, these unreached eights might simply signify their next yet-to-be-attempted project. It must be noted the digit itself is essentially identical to the sign for infinity (if set vertical), sometimes also a symbol for eternity (in this case, for Donny).
As Donny lays dying in front of the bowling alley, the scene in a long-shot fades to black--except for the alley's ten neon starbursts floating in darkness. These seem to symbolize a perfect game in bowling: ten strikes in a row.