The Man Who Wasn't There


1h 56m 2001

Brief Synopsis

In the summer of 1949, a tale of passion, crime and punishment unfolds. Ed Crane is a barber in a small northern California town. Ed is dissatisfied with his life, but his wife Doris' infidelity presents Ed with an opportunity for blackmail that he thinks will help him to change it. However, Ed's sc

Film Details

Also Known As
The Barber Movie
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Nov 2, 2001
Premiere Information
World premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France: 13 May 2001; Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 Oct 2001
Production Company
Working Title Films
Distribution Company
USA Films
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Glendale, California, United States; Los Angeles--Lincoln Heights Jail, California, United States; Los Angeles--Lincoln Heights Jail, California, United States; Orange County--Orange, California, United States; Pasadena--"Bungalow Heaven", California, United States; Pasadena--Castle Green, California, United States; Thousand Oaks, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Film Length
10,426ft

Synopsis

In 1949, Ed Crane works at a two-man barbershop owned by his brother-in-law, the loquacious Frank Raffo, in Santa Rosa, California. Ed does not consider himself a barber, just somebody who works as one, while his wife Doris works as a bookkeeper for Nirdlinger's department store. Ed is a man of few words, and at a dinner party for Doris' boss, Big Dave Alan Brewster and his heiress wife, Ann Nirdlinger, Big Dave keeps up the conversation with tall stories about the Pacific war. Ed observes to himself that Big Dave and Doris are closer than she lets on, but he has no interest in interfering. In the barbershop the next day, a new customer named Creighton Tolliver tells Ed that a local businessman has turned down his venture capital scheme for a new dry-cleaning business. Ed mulls the idea over all night and visits Creighton in his hotel room, telling him that he will come up with the $10,000 required investment within a week. Ed fends off a mild pass from Creighton and later writes an anonymous blackmail note to Big Dave demanding $10,000, and threatening that his affair with Doris will be made public if the money is not paid. Big Dave draws Ed into his office during the Nirdlinger's Christmas party and confides in him about the blackmail note, but claims that his lover is no one Ed knows. Big Dave is distraught because paying out the money will prevent him from opening his own annex of the department store, and he fears the censure of his wife and her wealthy family. Ed listens quietly as Big Dave blames Creighton because he had turned down the speculator's scheme, and because Creighton may have seen Big Dave with his lover at his hotel. After leaving the office, Ed is drawn to teenager Rachel "Birdy" Abundas, the daughter of his lawyer friend Walter, while she plays a Beethoven sonata on a piano in a darkened room. On the drive home that night, Doris complains that Big Dave has mishandled his money and because he will not be opening the annex, she will not get a promotion. The next day, Ed collects the blackmail money as pre-arranged and immediately delivers it to Creighton, who has him sign partnership papers. Late the next night, Doris sleeps off having had too much wine at a relative's wedding, unaware that Ed has been called to see Big Dave in the deserted department store. Big Dave reveals that he has beaten the truth out of Creighton. He now attacks Ed, but when he attempts to strangle him, Ed knifes him in the side of the throat. Big Dave dies in a pool of blood and Ed returns home, picking up where he left off in his recollections about when he and Doris first met. Doris is arrested for Big Dave's murder and Walter recommends Ed to Freddy Riedenschneider, an expensive, top-notch Sacramento attorney. Late in the night, Ann visits Ed and reveals that she believes the government murdered Big Dave because she and her husband reported that they had been abducted by aliens while in Eugene, Oregon. The next day, Freddy interviews Doris and Ed, searching for an angle with which to defend her. Ed confesses to the murder, but Freddy brushes this off as an attempt to save his wife, while Doris wordlessly understands it is true. Frank is forced to mortgage his shop in order to pay Freddy, and Ed silently berates himself when he discovers that Creighton has disappeared. Ed seeks solace at the Abundas home, visiting nightly to hear Birdy play Beethoven. During another meeting with Ed and Doris, Freddy expounds on a German scientist's theory that observing something changes it. He then introduces private investigator Burns, who has discovered that Big Dave lied about being a war hero, when in fact during the war he worked as a clerk at a naval shipyard. Freddy is convinced that this will introduce enough reasonable doubt to free Doris. Ed, meanwhile, begins envisioning a new life for himself managing Birdy's professional career as a concert pianist. Everyone is stunned when the trial is canceled because Doris hanged herself in her cell. Frank is so debilitated by his sister's death that he stops working and Ed hires a new barber, who, much to his chagrin, talks just as much as Frank. Although his life continues much as before, Ed now feels like a ghost. After learning from the medical examiner that the wife with whom he had not slept in years was pregnant at the time of her death, Ed tries to contact Doris through a medium, only to realize the absurdity of it. Ed then focuses his efforts on Birdy and gets her an audition with prominent San Francisco music teacher Jacques Carcanogues. Carcanogues tells Ed that Birdy's playing is polite but dispassionate and that she has no future as a professional. On the drive home, Birdy, who has never been interested in a professional career, tries to console Ed by performing oral sex on him. Ed is shocked and protests vehemently, then accidentally drives off the road. As the car sails through the air, time slows for Ed, and he ponders why hair continues to grow after a person dies, and how it knows to stop. Ed finds himself on his porch, smoking a cigarette. Doris arrives home and fends off a pavement salesman, after which she and Ed sit silently on their living room couch. Ed speaks her name, but she tells him to say nothing, and that he is fine. Ed then awakens in the hospital, severely battered by the car accident, and learns that although Birdy is alive and well, he is being arrested for Creighton's death as the salesman's beaten body was recently discovered in his sunken car. Ed signs over his house to Freddy, who agrees to take the case to make up for Doris' lost trial. Although Freddy makes a brilliant argument, Frank loses control and slugs Ed in court, and a mistrial is declared. Ed can no longer afford Freddy's counsel and hires a lesser attorney, Lloyd Garroway. In the next trial, Ed is found guilty and sentenced to death by execution. He finishes writing his story for the magazine Stalwart in his cell, and notes that writing it has helped him see his story as a whole, rather than disconnected pieces. As he is being strapped to the electric chair, Ed reflects that although he is sorry to have caused people pain, the only thing he ever regretted was being a barber. He now looks forward to seeing Doris again and telling her "all those things they don't have words for here."

Crew

Maria Aguilar

Assistant Costume Designer

Kimberly Aguirre

Payroll accountant

Damon Allison

Set Dresser

J. Todd Anderson

Hand-to-Eye man

Karyn Anonia

Assistant film Editor

Patrick Ballin

Visual Effects Editor

Randall Balsmeyer

Designer

Paul Barry

2d Assistant accountant

Travis Baumann

Compositor

Barry Beaulac

Special Effects tech

Erik Bernstein

Best boy Electrician

Tim Bevan

Executive Producer

Jean Black

Makeup Supervisor

Johnny Blackburn

Composer

Joshua Blakeslee

2d Assistant Camera

Deborah 'cha' Blevins

Costume Supervisor

Scott Bobbitt

Leadman

Roosevelt Bonner

Gang boss painter

Gert Broekema

Props Assistant

James Brown

Driver co-capt

Thomas Brown

Paint Supervisor

Carter Burwell

Original score/Orch and Conductor

John Cameron

Unit Production Manager

John Cameron

Co-producer

Julie Carideo

Assistant prod Coordinator

John Cassella Jr.

3D artist

Adolfo Castanon

Greensman

Ben Cheah

Foley Editor

Ellen Chenoweth

Casting

Pete Chesney Jr.

Special Effects Assistant

Peter Chesney

Special Effects Supervisor

Tom Chesney

Special Effects tech

Ken Clark

Stunts

Celeste Cleveland

Fitter/Cutter

Stacy Clinger

Gang boss painter

Ethan Coen

Producer

Ethan Coen

Writer

Joel Coen

Writer

Tricia Cooke

Film Editor

Katie Cooper

Assistant to Mr. Bevan, Working Title

Nicolle Cornute

Paint/Roto artist

Marko Costanzo

Foley artist

Tony Davis

Company Coordinator, Working Title

Roger Deakins

Director of Photography

Will Dearborn

Loader

Alberto Delgado

Greensman

Matt Dessero

Digital Effects Supervisor

David Diliberto

Associate film ed/Post-prod Supervisor

Carol Doran

Wigs

Clint Dougherty

Camera Operator

John Dugan

Plaster foreman

Jenny Eagan

Set Costume

Lynne Eagan

Makeup for Mr. Thornton

Jesse Ehredt

Pre-mix rec

Ime Etuk

DGA trainee

Catherine Farrell

Post-prod Assistant

Michael Farrow

Music scoring mixer

Jonathan Feldman

Piano performances

Eric Fellner

Executive Producer

Chris Fielder

Transfer Assistant Editor

Tony Finno

Copyist

Vida Fitzgerald

Assistant film Editor

Don Fly

Gen Manager

David French

Sculptor

Shannon Blake Gans

Miniatures const

Dennis Gassner

Production Design

Kristen Gassner

Assistant set dec

Eugene Gearty

Sound Designer

Gary George

I/O Supervisor

Karen Ruth Getchell

Prod Coordinator

Mickey Giacomazzi

Stunts

Elisabeth Giglio

Sound studio Manager

Lori Goldback

Const admin Assistant

David Goodman

Cast Assistant

Don Goodman

Drapery foreman

Chris Gorak

Art Director

Melinda Sue Gordon

Still Photographer

Cheryl Gould

Set Dresser

Robert Graf

Associate Producer

Matthew Gratzner

Miniatures const

Bob Gray

Key grip

Quinn Grove

Best boy grip

Chris Haarhoff

Steadicam op

Ted Haigh

Graphic Designer

Bruce Hamme

Dolly grip

Eric Hamme

Set prod Assistant

Lance Hammer

Assistant art Director

Oscar Hammerstein Ii

Composer

Andy Harris

1st Assistant Camera

Mila Hermanowski

Wardrobe Assistant

Jery Hewitt

Stunt Coordinator

Kearsley Higgins

Art Department admin

Rob Hodgson

Creative Effects Director

Rachel Holroyd

Head of legal/Business affairs, Working Title

Ian Hunter

Miniatures const

Elizabeth Ingram

Camera intern

Kenton Jakub

ADR Editor

Aliza James

Assistant to Mr. Fellner, Working Title

Nancy James

Craft service

Sandra James

Voice casting

Roderick Jaynes

Film Editor

Randy Johnson

Boom Operator

Emmet Kane

Special Effects foreman

Larry Kaplan

Unit Publicist

Steve Kasow

Assistant Music Editor

Todd Kasow

Music Supervisor

Kathy Kelehan

Titles prod

Ivan Kerum

Chef

Neda Kerum

Chef

Tommy Klines

Steadicam Assistant

Amanda Koblin

Casting Associate

Aquim Krajka

Accordian soloist

Ritchie Kremer

Props Master

Cheryl Kurk

Prod accountant

Peter Kurland

Prod Sound mixer

Jennifer Lamb

Stunts

Bill Landrum

Choreography

Jacqui Landrum

Choreography

George A. Lara

Foley mixer

Larry Laurent

Paint foreman

Paul Leblanc

Head hair stylist

Sophie Lecierc

Digital Effects prod

Renata Leischner

Wigs

John Leone

Labor foreman

Mary Liane

Costumes

Skip Lievsay

Supervisor Sound ed/Re-rec mixer

Carol Loeffier

Systems admin

Cookie Lopez

Key set Costume

William F. Luehm

Picture car capt

Mary Macias

Alteration fitter

Matt '45' Magnolia

Visual Effects Coordinator

Betsy Magruder

1st Assistant Director

Rusty Mahmood

2d 2d Assistant Director

Jeff Markwith

Set Design

Jonathan Mcgarry

2d Assistant Director

James Meehan

On-set dresser

France Metz

Key Assistant loc Manager

Diana Miao

3D artist

Mike Milliken

Timer

Guy Miracle

Set Costume

Theresa Repola Mohammed

Negative cutter

Mark Emery Moore

Steadicam op

Amanda Morrison

Compositor

Angela Morrison

Chief operating officer, Working Title

Jake Morrison

Compositor

Theodora Morse

Composer

Mike Mosley

Craft service Assistant

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Composer

Smriti Mundhra

Prod Secretary

Donald Murphy

Script Supervisor

Pablo B. Nantas

Tailor

Chris Napolitano

Rigging gaffer

Edward R. Nedin

Electrician rigging best boy

Igor Nikolic

Assistant Sound Editor

Kevin O'shea

Insurance services supplied by

Grant Osborn

Gang boss painter

Sam Page

Art Department Assistant

Sandra Park

Contractor

Dean Parker

Assistant to the comp

Jeff Passanante

Const Coordinator

Kevin Patterson

Music playback

Gay Perello

Assistant Props master

Chrissy Phelan

Office prod Assistant

Taylor Phillips

Set prod Assistant

Eric Potter

Field rec

Keith Potter

Set prod Assistant

Jennifer Ralston

Foley Supervisor

Eric Ramirez

Set Dresser

Paul Ripple

Transportation Assistant

Julian Robhedo

Composer

Richard Rodgers

Composer

Fred Rosenberg

Dial Editor

Jerry Ross

Utility Sound tech

Jerry Ross

Sound Editing

Michael D. Roundy

Special Effects gang boss

Kei Rowan-young

Assistant loc Manager

Albert G. Ruben

Insurance services supplied by

Tim Ryan

Transportation capt

Amy Schmiederer

Key makeup

Alan J. Schoolcraft

Secretary gen, Mike Zoss Productions

Mark R. Schultz

Key rigging grip

Kristin Scott

Assistant to Mr. Thornton

Fred Seibly

Signwriter

Amit Sethi

Digital artist

Ned Shapiro

Loc Manager

Janek Sirrs

Visual Effects Supervisor

Alex Soto

Assistant Sound Editor

Mark A. Sparks

Loc const foreman

Chris Spellman

Set Decoration

Barbara Ann Stein

Post-prod accountant

Neil Stelzner

Assistant film Editor

Pavel Sterba

Assistant loc Manager

Lynn Struiksma

Set prod Assistant

Jonathan Styrlund

Digital Effects prod

Karl Suessdorf

Composer

Eileen Sullivan

Friend of the Firm

Daniel Sunwoo

3D artist

Don Tardino

Transportation Coordinator

Jon Tardino

Driver capt

Zhanna Tataryan

Costumes

Film Details

Also Known As
The Barber Movie
MPAA Rating
Release Date
Nov 2, 2001
Premiere Information
World premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes, France: 13 May 2001; Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 Oct 2001
Production Company
Working Title Films
Distribution Company
USA Films
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Glendale, California, United States; Los Angeles--Lincoln Heights Jail, California, United States; Los Angeles--Lincoln Heights Jail, California, United States; Orange County--Orange, California, United States; Pasadena--"Bungalow Heaven", California, United States; Pasadena--Castle Green, California, United States; Thousand Oaks, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Film Length
10,426ft

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

2001

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were Untitled Barber Movie, Untitled Barber Project and The Barber Movie. The film has a voice-over narration delivered by Billy Bob Thornton as his character, "Ed Crane." Although the narration fluctuates between past and present tense, the entirety of the film is a flashback until the end sequence, when Ed is in prison and writing his memoir for the magazine. "Roderick Jaynes," listed in the onscreen credits as a film editor, is a joint pseudonym used by brothers Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, who, along with Tricia Cooke, edited the film.
       The film's end credits include the following acknowledgment: "'Fibber McGee & Molly' Courtesy of NBC Studios and The Museum of Broadcasting Communications, Chicago." The opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order. According to the presskit, the film was shot at the following Southern California locations: Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles for the jail scene; Don Carlos Stages in East Los Angeles for the courtroom scenes; Musso and Frank's Grill in Hollywood as Da Vinci's restaurant; Thousand Oaks for the wedding reception; a Presbyterian Church on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles for the Bingo scene; an empty Bank of America branch in downtown Los Angeles as the Santa Rosa bank; a furniture store in Glendale as "Nirdlinger's" department store; the exterior of a Craftsman-style house in the "Bungalow Heaven" neighborhood in Pasadena became the Crane home; an apartment in Castle Green, a hotel-turned-apartment building in Pasadena, served as the piano teacher's studio; and portions of the city of Orange in Orange County doubled as Santa Rosa. Both Michael Badalucco and Thornton trained with barbers to learn how to cut hair; Thornton also briefly trained at Dirty Dan's Clip Joint.
       The presskit adds the following information about the production: The picture was shot on color negative film, which was then printed on black-and-white film stock for theatrical exhibition. According to a November 30, 2001 article in Entertainment Weekly, USA Films negotiated with the filmmakers to shoot the picture so that videos could be released in color for European markets. The Man Who Wasn't There emulates the visual style and content of film noir, a genre produced primarily in the 1940s and 1950s. The filmmakers depicted the setting as Santa Rosa, CA because it evoked the 1943 Alfred Hitchcock film Shadow of a Doubt, which was set and filmed in Santa Rosa (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Other echoes of a classic film noir May include the character names "Diedrickson" and "Nirdlinger." "Dietrichson" was used for two main characters in the 1944 Paramount film Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder, while "Nirdlinger" was the surname used for the same characters in James M. Cain's novel Double Indemnity, on which the Paramount film was based (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).
       The Man Who Wasn't There tied with David Lynch's Mulholland Dr. for the Best Director Palme d'Or award at the 2001 Cannes International Film Festival. Roger Deakins was selected by AFI as Cinematographer of the Year, and the film was nominated by AFI as Movie of the Year. Other AFI award nominations went to Thornton as AFI Actor of the Year-Male-Movies and to Tony Shalhoub as AFI Featured Actor of the Year-Male-Movies. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated the film for 2001 Golden Globe awards in the following categories: Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama (Thornton) and Best Screenplay (Ethan and Joel Coen). The film also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography.

Miscellaneous Notes

Voted one of the 10 best films of 2001 by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Winner of the 2001 award for Best Actor (Billy Bob Thornton) from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

Winner of the 2001 award for Best Cinematography from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).

Winner of the 2001 Golden Satellite Award for Best Cinematography from the International Press Academy.

Winner of the award for Cinematographer of the Year at the 2001 American Film Institute (AFI) Awards. Nominated for a further three awards, including Movie of the Year, Actor of the Year - Male (Billy Bob Thornton) and Featured Actor of the Year - Male (Tony Shalhoub).

Winner of two 2001 awards, including Best Actor (Billy Bob Thornton) and Best Cinematography, from the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS).

Released in United States Fall October 31, 2001

Expanded Release in United States November 2, 2001

Released in United States on Video April 16, 2002

Released in United States 2001

Released in United States August 2001

Released in United States September 2001

Released in United States October 2001

Shown at Deauville Festival of American Film (Avant Premieres/Previews) August 31 - September 9, 2001.

Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival (Gala) August 12-26, 2001.

Shown at San Sebastian International Film Festival (in competition) September 20-29, 2001.

Shown at Mill Valley Film Festival in Mill Valley, California October 4-14, 2001.

Completed shooting September 1, 2000.

Began shooting June 26, 2000.

Released in United States Fall October 31, 2001

Expanded Release in United States November 2, 2001

Released in United States on Video April 16, 2002

Released in United States 2001 (Shown at Deauville Festival of American Film (Avant Premieres/Previews) August 31 - September 9, 2001.)

Released in United States August 2001 (Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival (Gala) August 12-26, 2001.)

Released in United States September 2001 (Shown at San Sebastian International Film Festival (in competition) September 20-29, 2001.)

Released in United States October 2001 (Shown at Mill Valley Film Festival in Mill Valley, California October 4-14, 2001.)

Nominated for the 2001 Award for Best Production Design in a Feature Film - Period/Fantasy from the Society of Motion Picture & Television Art Directors/ Art Directors Guild (ADG).