Fargo Holds Its Violent Charm Nearly 30 Years Later

Fargo 1 Poster

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Automoblog earns from qualifying purchases, including movies shown here. These commissions come to us at no additional cost to you.

Fargo, the highly praised and award-winning film from the Coen brothers, is rarely mentioned as a car movie. Apart from the fact that the cars play a fundamental role, it all comes down to one character: Jerry Lundegaard. As inhabitants of the third rock from the sun, all of us have had to deal with some version of Jer Lundegaard. He is a literal bête noire of our world.

The trope that is true

The slimy car salesman is a trope, a cliché, a banal semi-slur that, like a bad Italian accent or the airheaded blond surfer, is at once hackneyed, familiar, right, and wrong. Literally 99 percent of the distributors I’ve interacted with are good people; They know cars and want your business. They are not cheats, dishonest or thieves. Like mechanics, they work under the common belief that they are nefarious people out for your money.

They are not, but Jer Lundegaard is. Stuttering, cunning, clumsy, surreptitiously needy, and as reliable as a sideshow barker, if Lundegaard wasn’t a car salesman, he’d be inhaling snake oil at the turn of the 20th century. Everything about how William H. Macy plays the guy makes you want to back up and cross the street. The only reason to interact with Lundegaard is because you have no other choice.

we are stuck

Yet here we are. Every once in a while, we find ourselves at a dealership that we need to avoid. Then wander up this guy in a suit made out of a shower curtain, hair styled with buttered toast, leering at your girlfriend’s legs and flaunting his penny-store golf trophy. If it’s not a suit, expect an unbuttoned polo shirt with a gold chain and chest hair. And we have to deal with it.

We’re trapped in a gruesome circle of the underworld, and all we want to do is buy that Civic or Camry and get out of the parking lot before it hits us. But no, oh no, it’s not that easy. If this guy owned a bakery, he’d haggle over the price of a loaf of bread, then charge you an extra 10 cents for the bag; “Oh now, those aren’t free, mate. They put them in bags at the plant.”

“You will have oxidation problems”

Lundegaard’s personality (or lack thereof) is on full display during the famous scene from TruCoat, where ol’Jer screws a hapless buyer with the proverbial undercoat rip-off. Of course, Lundegaard plays the victim, then the hero, then the victim again. The whole scene is awkward, that’s why Fargo It is a hidden gem of a car movie. It gets to the heart of an experience that we all want to avoid with a purchase this large.

The TruCoat scene may be a couple of minutes of cinematic perfection, but the rest of the movie easily matches it. The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, are some of the most skilled filmmakers working today. As raising arizona and the big lebowski, Fargo It’s about a kidnapping gone terribly wrong. At the center of the nefarious plot is Jerry Lundegaard. He is introduced early, and some people mistake him for the leading man, the leading man of our story. He is not. He is the bad boy.

Our hero is none other than Brainerd, Minnesota Police Chief Marge Gunderson. Played with accessible calm by Frances McDormand, Joel Coen’s wife was so good that she won an Oscar for her work. Though unassuming, quiet, slow, and methodical to the letter, Marge is the heart and soul of Fargo. No matter what, no matter how difficult, no matter how time consuming, there is nothing stopping Marge Gunderson from pursuing this case to its logical end. It’s as relentless as the winter wind blowing off Lake Huron. And she is pregnant.

Also Read:  The Most Expensive States to Own a Car (2023)

gang of idiots

Marge’s righteous quest for justice pits her against a variety of the dumbest and stupidest criminals ever filmed. Jer is the “brains” of the team, but to aid and abet his criminal efforts are goofballs like convict mechanic Shep Proudfoot (Steve Reevis) and the once-muscular Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare). With this gang, it’s obvious from the get-go that Mensa won’t call.

Showalter is nervous, talkative, and a mistake waiting to happen, while Grimsrud is a hulking Neolithic throwback who communicates with grunts. How Lundegaard expected this to work is beyond me, but it’s too late for that. The wheels are in motion, and now it’s just a matter of how long before they fall off.

The age of malaise

Fargo is set in 1987, which is after the end of the Malaise Era that plagued Detroit for a decade. Alongside the police cars, which Marge usually refers to as “Prowlers,” there are boxy, predictable full-size sedans like Crown Vics and Caprices. Unlike other car movies we’ve enjoyed, the vehicles featured in Fargo it will eventually land at the bottom of the automotive junk heap.

If you look, you’ll notice tons of mid-’80s Buicks and Oldsmobiles. And while Buick still lives on (thanks to the Chinese market), Olds is now sadly a trivial answer. That being said, an Oldsmobile plays a pivotal role in Fargo. In fact, Jer repays Showalter and Grimsrud with a tan shadow 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, a nondescript sedan whose only distinguishing feature is an excellent HVAC system.

Minnesota Nice

Made by cinematographer Roger Deakins, Fargo it was filmed in Minnesota and North Dakota in the dead of winter. There is no background, just foreground. What’s back there fades into a pale white limbo of icy cold. Somehow it’s like lawrence of arabia, just cold. The entire landscape is gloomy, desolate, foreboding and threatening. The Coen brothers grew up in the Twin Cities. Therefore, all this (the weather, the people, the food, the gestures) comes as easily to them as to a group of Italians sitting around a table to Martin Scorsese.

Aside from Showalter and Grimsrud, everyone in the film is unswervingly friendly, even Lundegaard. Cops, prostitutes, homeowners, and hotel staff are about as polite as Cub Scouts meeting the mayor of a small town. They are almost oppressively kind at all times. People “up there” tend to be polite and innocently present, even a rowdy car salesman like Jerry Lundegaard. According to IMDb, the cast and crew used Howard Mohr’s 1987 book. how to speak minnesota to specify the characteristic dialogue of the film.

Where to see Fargo

Thanks to the convenience of modern streaming services, old movies like Fargo They are available at places like Amazon Prime. If you are a purist, you can get a copy on DVD. If you really like the movie, consider taking a trip to the Fargo-Moorhead Visitor Center off I-94 in Fargo, North Dakota. The wood chipper from the movie is there on display.

Tony Borroz, a long-time writer for Automoblog, has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, as well as working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a stuntman. He lives in the northeast corner of the most northwestern part of the Pacific Northwest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *