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File:Barton-fink-1991-01-g 1724.jpg


A 1991 film by The Coen Brothers, often considered one of their best. Barton Fink is a playwright who has gotten a contract to write movies. The enthusiastic studio executive tells him to write a wrestling picture.

Getting a bad case of Writer's Block, he meets Charlie Meadows, an insurance salesman, "W. P. Mayhew" (William Faulkner), his mistress, an excitable producer, and a cast of others.

Notable for earning three awards at Cannes, it completely defies any sort of genre, being somewhat of a comedy-Film Noir-mystery-horror-drama.

Tropes used in Barton Fink include:
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: a possible case, depending on the contents of the box.
  • Affably Evil: John Goodman
  • Axe Crazy: Charlie Meadows, a.k.a. "Madman" Mundt. Played by John Goodman.
  • Captain Obvious: Charlie comments several times on how hot it is inside a building that's on fire.
  • Death by Sex: Audrey, and instantly.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The film is set in 1941. For no particular reason, the anti-Semitic detectives are given a German and an Italian name (Deutsch and Mastrionotti) to evoke the Axis powers, and Charlie/Mundt says "Heil Hitler" before killing one of them. However, Word of God says this is really just symbolism for symbolism's (scary) sake, not necessarily with a real message attached.
  • Gainax Ending: The picture is acted out in real life.
  • Genre Busting: As stated above.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: W.P. Mayhew sings: "Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay..."
  • Hell Hotel: The Hotel Earle is rather unsettling to begin with. Then it bursts into flames.
    • Goodman's line went something like:

You think you're in hell, I live here.

  • Hollyweird: The disturbing surrealism starts once Barton leaves New York.
  • Hypocrite: Barton makes a big deal about how his work deals with the plights of the common man, yet when Charlie tries talking to him about his own experiences as a common man, Barton insists on talking over him about how own work.
  • Large Ham: As noted, the producer and executive have the times of their lives with their roles.
  • Louis Cypher: Charlie Meadows.
  • Madness Mantra



Bare Ruined Choirs ends with "We'll be hearing from that kid, and I don't mean a postcard"
The Burlyman ends with "We'll be hearing from that crazy wrestler, and I don't mean a postcard."

  • Suspect Is Hatless: Barton can't really say much about the man the detectives are looking for:

Barton Fink: He... he said he liked Jack Oakie pictures.
Detective Mastrionotti: You know, ordinarily we say anything you might remember could be helpful. But I'll be frank with you, Fink. That is not helpful.
Detective Deutsch: Notice he's not writing it down.

  • Throw It In: The bird diving into the ocean at the end wasn't planned.
  • Trauma Conga Line: First, Barton gets a little writer's block. Then he discovers that his idol is a drunken, empty shell of a man. Then he wakes up with their mutual muse lying dead beside him in bed. Then he discovers that his only friend is a homicidal maniac. Then the homicidal maniac returns and kills his fallen idol and the entire building catches fire and it is also implied his folks were murdred, at which point he loses his job. One hell of a route from A to B, there.
    • He doesn't lose his job he is still under contract. The studio owns everything he will ever make, but they will never produce them.
  • The Un-Reveal: The contents of the box.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Subverted; after seeing Audrey's body, Charlie goes to the bathroom to throw up.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Barton and his belief in the common man.