Barton Fink (1991) Script

I'm kissing it all goodbye. These four stinking walls, six flights up.

The L that roars by at 3:00 a.m. Like a cast-iron wind.

Kiss them goodbye for me, Maury, I'll miss them.

Like hell I will. Dreaming again.

Not anymore, Lil. I'm awake now, awake for the first time in years.

Uncle Dave said it.

"Daylight is a dream if you've lived with your eyes closed."

Well, my eyes are open now.

I see the choir and I know they're dressed in rags but we're part of that choir, yeah, both of us.

And you, Maury, and Uncle Dave, too. The sun's coming up, kid.

They'll be hawking the fish down on Fulton Street.

Let 'em hawk. Let 'em sing their hearts out.

That's it, kid. Take that ruined choir. Make it sing.

So long, Maury. So long.

We'll hear from that kid. And I don't mean a postcard.

Fish! Fresh fish!

Let's spit on our hands and get to work. It's late, Maury.

Not anymore, Lil. It's early.

Bravo!

Bravo!

Bravo!

Author! Author!

Author! Author!

Your table is ready, Monsieur Fink.

In fact, several members of your party have already arrived.

Is Garland Stanford here?

He called to say he'll be a few minutes late. Ahh, here we are.

Barton, Barton, so glad you could make it.

You know Richard St. Claire and Poppy Carnahan.

Charmed, charmed, charmed.

We're drinking champagne, dear boy, in honor of the occasion.

Have you seen The Herald? Not yet.

Well, I don't want to embarrass you but Caven could hardly contain himself.

But, more important, Richard and Poppy here loved the play.

Weeping. Copious tears. What did The Herald say?

I happen to have it with me. Please, Derek.

"Bare Ruined Choirs, Triumph Of The Common Man.

"The star of Bare Ruined Choirs

"was nowhere to be seen on the stage of the Belasco last night, "though the thespians all acquitted themselves admirably.

"The find of the evening was the author of this drama about simple folk, "fishmongers, in fact, "whose brute struggle for existence

"cannot quite quell their longing for something higher.

"The playwright finds nobility

"in the most squalid corners and poetry in the most callous speech.

"A tough new voice in the American theater has arrived

"and the owner of that voice is named Barton Fink."

Well, they'll be wrapping fish in it in the morning, so I guess it's not a total waste.

Cynic. I can't start listening to the critics and I can't kid myself about my own work.

A writer writes from his gut.

His gut tells him what's good and what's merely adequate.

I don't pretend to be a critic but Lord knows I have a gut and my gut tells me it's simply marvelous.

And a charming gut it is.

Oh, you dog.

Oh, stop.

I thought you were going to join us.

Jesus, Garland. You left me alone with those people?

Don't panic. I'll join you in a minute.

We have to talk a little business.

I've just been on the phone to Los Angeles.

Barton, Capitol Pictures wants to put you under contract.

They've offered you $1,000 a week. I think I can get them up to as high as $2,000.

To do what? What do you do for a living?

I'm not sure any more. I guess I try to make a difference.

Look, Barton. There's no pressure here because I respect you.

But a brief tenure in Hollywood could support you through the writing of any number of plays.

I don't know, Garland. My place is here right now.

I feel I'm on the brink of success.

I'd say you're already enjoying some. No, don't you see, Garland?

Not the kind of success where the critics fawn over you or the producers like Derek make a lot of money.

No, a real success.

The success we've been dreaming about.

The creation of a new, living theater, of and about and for the common man.

If I ran off to Hollywood now, I'd be making money, going to parties, meeting the big shots, sure.

But I'd be cutting myself off from the wellspring of that success, from the common man.

I guess I'm spouting off again.

Did you see Caven's review in The Herald?

No, what did it say? Here, take my copy.

You're the toast of Broadway and you have an opportunity to redeem that for a little cash.

Strike that, a lot of cash.

The common man'll still be here when you get back.

Who knows? They may even have one or two of them out in Hollywood.

That's a rationalization, Garland.

Barton, it was a joke.


Welcome to the Hotel Earle. May I help you, sir?

I'm checking in, Barton Fink.

All righty.

Okay.

That's F-I-N-K?

Fink, Barton. That must be you, huh? Must be.

Okay, then, everything seems to be in order.

Everything seems to be in order. Just...

Are you a trans or a res? Excuse me?

Transient or resident?

I don't know. I mean, I'll be here indefinitely.

Res. That'll be $25.50 a week, payable in advance.

Checkout time is 12:00 sharp only, you can forget about that on account of you're a res.

If you need anything, anything at all, just pick up your personal in-room telephone and talk to me.

My name is Chet.

Although we do provide privacy for the residential guests, we are also a full-service hotel, including complimentary shoeshine.

My name is Chet.

Okay.

Those your only bags?

The others are being sent.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Mr. Fink.

Six, please.

Next stop, six.

This stop, six.


Is that him? Is that Barton Fink?

Let me at him. Let me put my arms around this guy.

Let me hug this guy. How the hell are you?

Good trip? My name is Jack Lipnick.

I run this dump. You know that. You read the papers.

Lou treating you all right? Get you everything you need?

What the hell's the matter with your face? What the hell's the matter with his face, Lou.

It's not as bad as it looks. Just a mosquito in my room.

Place okay? Where'd we put him? I'm at the Earle.

Never heard of it. Let's move him to The Grand or The Wilshire.

Hell, he can stay at my place!

Thanks, but I wanted a place that was a little less...

Less Hollywood.

Sure. Say it. It's not a dirty word.

Say whatever the hell you want. The writer is king here at Capitol Pictures.

You don't believe me? Take a look at your paycheck at the end of every week.

That's what we think of the writer.

So, what kind of pictures does he like?

Mr. Fink hasn't given a preference, Mr. Lipnick.

So how about it, Bart?

Well, to be honest, I don't go to the pictures much, Mr. Lipnick.

That's okay. That's just fine.

You probably walked in here thinking that was going to be a handicap.

Thinking that we wanted people who knew something about the medium, maybe even thinking there was all kinds of technical mumbo-jumbo to learn.

You were dead wrong. We're only interested in one thing.

Can you tell a story, Bart? Can you make us laugh, can you make us cry?

Can you make us wanna break out in joyous song?

Is that more than one thing? Okay.

The point is, I run this dump and I don't know the technical mumbo-jumbo.

Why do I run it? 'Cause I got horse sense, goddamn it. Showmanship!

And also, I hope Lou told you this.

I am bigger, meaner and louder than any other kike in this town. Did you tell him that, Lou?

I don't mean my dick is bigger than yours, it's not a sexual thing.

Although, you are a writer, you know more about that. Coffee?

Yes, thank you. Lou!

Used to have shares in the company.

Ownership interest. Got bought out in the '20s.

Muscled out, according to some. According to me.

We keep him around. He's got a family.

Poor schmuck. He's sensitive. Don't mention the old days.

Hell, say whatever you want. Look, Bart.

Barring a preference, we're gonna put you to work on a wrestling picture. Wallace Beery.

I say this because they tell me you know the poetry of the streets so that would rule out westerns, pirates, screwball, Bible, Roman...

Look. I'm not one of those guys that thinks poetic has gotta be fruity.

We're together on that, aren't we? I mean, I'm from New York myself.

Minsk, if you wanna go all the way back.

Which we won't, if you don't mind, and I ain't asking.

Now, people are gonna say to you, "Wallace Beery, wrestling, it's a B-picture."

You tell them, "Bullshit!"

We do not make B-pictures here at Capitol.

Let's put a stop to that rumor... right now.

Thanks, Lou. Join us.

We're talking about the Wally Beery picture. Excellent picture.

We got a treatment on it yet? No, not yet, Jack.

We just bought the story.

Saturday Evening Post. To hell with the story.

Wally Beery is a wrestler.

I wanna know his hopes, his dreams.

Naturally, you have to get him mixed up with a bad element.

And a romantic interest, you know the drill.

Romantic interest, or else a young kid, an orphan.

What do you think, Lou? Wally a little too old for a romantic interest?

Look at me.

A writer in the room and I'm asking Lou what the goddamn story should be.

Which is it, Bart? Orphan? Dame?

Both, maybe?

Maybe we should do a treatment.

Hell. Let Bart take a crack at it.

He'll get into the swing of things or I don't know writers.

Let's make it a dame, Bart. Keep it simple.

We don't gotta tackle the world the first time out.

The important thing is we all want it to have that Barton Fink feeling.

I guess, we all have that Barton Fink feeling but since you're Barton Fink, I'm assuming you have it in spades.

Seriously, Bart, I like you. We're off to a good start.

If all my writers were like you, I wouldn't have to get so goddamn involved.

I'd like to see something by the end of the week.

Oh, I heard about your show, by the way.

My man in New York saw it. Tells me it's pretty damn powerful, pretty damn moving.

A little fruity, he said, but I guess you know what you're doing.

Thanks for your heart, Bart. We need more heart in motion pictures.

We're all expecting great things.


Front desk. Hello, Chet?

Speaking. This is Barton Fink in room 621.

Mmm-hmm? Yes, there's...

There's someone in the room next door to mine, 623, and he's...

He's...

Making a lot of noise.

I'll take care of it right away, sir. Thank you.

Hello.

What?

Huh?

Who?


Did you...

Somebody just complained. No, I didn't.

I mean, I did call down. Not to complain exactly.

I was just concerned that you might...

Not that it's my business, but that you might be in some kind of distress.

See, I was trying to work and it's...

Well, it was difficult.

Yeah...

I'm damn sorry if I bothered you. The damn walls. I just apologize like hell.

My name's Charlie Meadows. I guess we're neighbors.

Barton Fink.

Neighbor, I'd feel better about the damned inconvenience if you let me buy you a drink.

That's all right, really. Thank you. "All right," hell.

You trying to work, me carrying on in there.

Look, the liquor's good. What do you say?

You got a glass? It's the least I can do.

Okay. A quick one. Sure.

Yeah, just a nip.

I sure do forget myself sometimes.

I feel like a heel, all the carryings-on next door.

That's okay, I assure you.

It's just I was trying to work.

What kind of work do you do, Barton, if you don't mind my asking?

Well, I'm a writer, actually.

You don't say. That's a tough racket.

My hat's off to anyone that can make a go of it.

Damned interesting work, I'd imagine. Can be. It's not easy but...

Damned difficult, I'd imagine.

And what's your line, Mr. Meadows? Hell, no, call me Charlie.

Well, Barton, you might say I sell peace of mind.

Insurance is my game.

Door to door. Human contact. Still the only way to move the merchandise.

In spite of what you might think from tonight, I'm pretty good at it.

It doesn't surprise me at all. Hell, yes! Because I believe in it.

Fire, theft and casualty are not things that only happen to other people, that's what I tell them.

Writing doesn't work out, you may wanna look into it.

Providing for a basic human need. A fella could do worse.

Thanks. I'll keep that in mind. Mmm.

What kind of scribbler are you? Newspaperman, did you say?

No. Actually, I'm writing for the pictures now.

Pictures? Jesus!

Oh, I'm sorry, brother.

I was just sitting here thinking I was talking to some ambitious youngster eager to make good.

Hell, you've got it made.

Writing for the pictures! Beating out that competition.

And me being patronizing?

Is the egg showing or what?

That's okay, I am just starting out in the movies, though I was pretty well established in New York.

Some renown there. It's an exciting time, then.

I'm not the best-read mug on the planet so I guess it's not surprising I didn't recognize your name.

Jesus, I feel like a heel.

That's okay, Charlie.

I'm a playwright. My shows have only played New York.

The last one got a hell of a write-up in The Herald.

I guess that's why they wanted me here.

Hell, why not? Everyone wants quality.

What kind of venue...

That is to say, thematically...

Umm...

What do I write about?

Caught me trying to be fancy. Yeah, that's it, Bart.

Well, that's a good question.

Strange as it may seem, Charlie, I guess I write about people like you.

The average working stiff, the common man.

Well, ain't that a kick in the head. Yeah, I guess it is.

But in a way, that's exactly the point.

There's a few people in New York... Hopefully, our numbers are growing...

Who feel we have an opportunity now to forge something real out of everyday experience.

Create a theater for the masses based on a few simple truths, not on some shopworn abstractions about drama that don't hold true today, if they ever did.

I don't guess this means much to you. Hell yeah. I could tell you some stories.

And that's the point. That we all have stories.

The hopes and dreams of the common man are as noble as those of any king.

It's the stuff of life, why shouldn't it be the stuff of theater?

Goddamn it, why should that be such a hard pill to swallow?

Don't call it new theater, Charlie, call it real theater.

Call it our theater.

I can see you feel pretty strongly about it.

Well, I don't mean to get up on my high horse.

But why shouldn't we look at ourselves up there?

Who cares about the Fifth Earl of Bastrop and Lady Higginbottom and who killed Nigel Grinch-Gibbons?

I can feel my butt getting sore already. Exactly, Charlie.

You understand what I'm saying a lot more than these literary types because you're a real man. I could tell you some stories...

Sure you could, and yet, many writers do everything in their power to insulate themselves from the common man, from where they live, from where they trade, from where they fight and love and converse and...

So naturally, their work suffers and regresses into empty formalism.

I'm spouting off again, but to put it in your language, the theater becomes as phony as a three-dollar bill.

Well, I guess that's a tragedy right there.

You're all right, Charlie.

I'm glad you stopped by. I'm sorry if... I know sometimes I run on.

Well, Christ. If there's any way I can contribute or help or whatever...

Sure, Charlie, you can help by just being yourself.

Well, I can tell you some stories.

And look, I'm sorry as hell about the interruption.

Too much revelry late at night, you forget there's other people in the world.


I'll be eating on the lot today.

Who's this? Barton Fink, Mr. Geisler.

More, please.

I'm a writer, Mr. Geisler. Ted Okum said I should drop by this morning...

Ever act? Huh? No, I'm a...

Need Indians for a Norman Steele western. I'm a writer. Ted Okum...

Think about it, Fink, writers come and go. We always need Indians.

I'm a writer.

Ted Okum said you're producing this Wallace Beery picture I'm working on.

Ted Okum doesn't know shit.

They've assigned me enough pictures for a goddamn year.

Listen, what Ted Okum doesn't know you could almost squeeze into the Hollywood Bowl.

Then who should I talk to?

Get me Lou Breeze.

Is he in for Mr. Geesler? Geisler.

Lou, how's Lipnick's ass smell this morning?

Yeah? Yeah?

All right, listen. The reason I'm calling, I got a writer here. Fink. All screwy.

Says I'm producing that Wallace Beery wrestling picture.

What am I, the goddamn janitor around here?

Yeah? Who'd you get that from?

Tell Lipnick he can kiss my dimpled ass.

No, all right! Shit. All right. No, all right.

Okay, Fink, let's chow.

Don't worry about it. It's just a B-picture.

I bring it in on budget, they book it without screening it. Life is too short.

Lipnick said he wanted to look at the script, see something by the end of the week.

Sure he did. He forgot about it before your ass left his sofa.

Okay.

I'm just having trouble getting started.

It's funny, I'm blocked up.

I just feel like I need some kind of indication of what's expected.

Wallace Beery, wrestling picture. What do you need, a road map?

Look, you're confused. You need guidance?

Talk to another writer. Who?

Oh, Jesus. You throw a rock in here, you'll hit one.

Do me a favor, Fink?

Throw it hard.


Bill Mayhew. Sorry about the odor.

Barton Fink.

Jesus, W. P?

I beg your pardon? W.P. Mayhew, the writer?

Just Bill, please.

Bill, you're the finest novelist of our time.

Why, thank you, son. How kind.

My God, I had no idea you were in Hollywood.

All of us undomesticated writers eventually make our way out here to the Great Salt Lick.

That's probably why I always have such a powerful thirst.

A little social lubricant, Mr. Fink?

No, it's a little early for me.

Bill, if I'm imposing, you should say so.

I know you're very busy.

I just wanted to ask you a favor.

Have you ever written a wrestling picture?

You are drippin', sir.

Mr. Fink, they have not invented a genre of picture that Bill Mayhew has not at one time or other been invited to essay.

Well, what...

Yes, I have taken my stab at the wrestling form, as I have stabbed at so many others and with as little success. How do...

I gather that you are a freshman here, eager for an upperclassman's counsel.

However, just at the moment, I have drinking to do.

Why don't you stop by my bungalow, number 15, later on this afternoon and we will discuss wrestling scenarios and other things literary.

Sons of bitches!

Honey? Where's my honey?

The water's lapping up on me, honey!

I can't... I'm trying to help you.

Can I help you?

I'm sorry, I... Why, damn it?

My name is Fink. Where's my honey?

Bill asked me to drop by this afternoon. Is he in?

Mr. Mayhew is indisposed at the moment. Where's my honey?

Is he okay?

He'll be fine.

Mr. Fink, I'm Audrey Taylor, Mr. Mayhew's personal secretary.

Where's my honey? I know this all must sound horrid.

I really do apologize. Where are you, damn it?

When he can't write, he drinks.

It's so embarrassing.

How about you? Will you be all right?

I'll be fine.

Are you a writer, Mr. Fink? Yes. I'm working on a wrestling...

Please, call me Barton.

I'll tell Bill you dropped by.

I'm sure he'll wanna reschedule your appointment.

Perhaps you and I can get together at some point, also.

I'm sorry if that sounds abrupt, I just...

I don't know anyone here in town.

Perhaps the three of us, Mr. Fink. Please, Barton.

Barton.

You see, Barton, I'm not just Bill's secretary.

Bill and I are

in love.

Where's my honey?

I know this must look funny.

Bastard-ass sons of bitches! I'm sorry.

Please, don't judge us, Mr. Fink.

Bastard-ass sons of bitches, the water's lapping up!

Honey!


Howdy, neighbor. Charlie, how are you?

Ah, Jesus, I hope I'm not interrupting you again.

Heard you walking around in here, figured I'd drop by.

Yeah, come on in. Have a seat.

I hadn't really gotten started yet.

What happened to your ear? Yeah, an ear infection.

Chronic thing. It goes away for a while, then it comes back.

I gotta put cotton in it to stanch the flow of pus.

Don't worry. It's not contagious. Have you seen a doctor?

Doctors. What's he gonna tell me? Can't trade my head in for a new one.

Yeah, I guess you're stuck with the one you got.

I'd invite you over to my place but it's a goddamn mess.

You married, Bart? No.

I myself have yet to be lassoed.

Hey, Bart.

Ouch!

Got a sweetheart? No.

I guess it's something about my work. I get so worked up over it.

I don't really have a lot of attention left over, so it would be a little unfair.

Yeah, ladies do ask for attention.

In my experience, they pretend to give it but it's generally a smoke screen for demanding it back with interest.

How about family, Bart? How're you fixed in that department?

My folks live in Brooklyn with my uncle. Mine have passed on.

It's just the three of us now. What's that expression?

Me, myself and I. Sure.

That's tough.

But in a sense, we're all alone in the world, aren't we, Charlie?

I'm often surrounded by family and friends but...

You're no stranger to loneliness, then.

I guess I got no beef, especially where the dames are concerned.

In my line of work, I get opportunities galore, always on the wing, you know what I'm saying.

I could tell you stories to curl your hair but it looks like you've already heard them.

That's me in Kansas City, plying my trade. That was taken by one of my policy holders.

They're more than just customers to me, they appreciate what I have to offer them.

You see, her hubby was out of town at the time, and they were carrying fire and life.

The third quarter payment was way past due...

You know, in a way, I envy you, Charlie.

Your daily routine, you know what's expected.

You know the drill.

My job is to plumb the depths, so to speak, dredge up something from inside.

Something honest.

I gotta tell you, the life of the mind, there's no road map for that territory.

Exploring it can be painful.

A kind of pain most people don't know anything about.

This must be boring you. No, it's damned interesting.

Yeah.

Probably sounds a little grand from someone writing a wrestling picture for Wallace Beery.

Beery? You got no beef there. He's good! A hell of an actor.

Though for my money, you can't beat Jack Oakie.

A stitch, Oakie. Funny stuff, funny stuff.

But don't get me wrong. Beery, wrestling picture, could be a pip.

I wrestled myself some, back in school. I guess you know the basic moves?

No, I never even watched any. I'm not that interested in the act itself.

Okay. But hell, you should know what it's about.

I can show you the wrestling basics in about 30 seconds.

You're a little out of your weight class but just for the purposes of demonstration.

That's all right, really.

Not a bit of it, compadre. Easiest thing in the world.

You just get down on your knees to my left here, slap your right hand here, your left hand here.

Come on, champ, you can do it. Come on.

Come on. Come on.

Come on.

Okay, right there.

All right.

When I say, "Ready, wrestle," you try and pin me and I try and pin you.

And that's the whole game, got it? Yeah, okay.

Ready, wrestle!

Hup, two, three.

Damn, there I go again, gonna wake up the downstairs neighbors.

I didn't hurt you, did I? It's okay.

That's all wrestling is, except usually there's more grunting and squirming before the pin.

It's your first time and you're out of your weight class.

Jesus, I did hurt you.

I sure do apologize. I'm just a big, clumsy lug.

I sure do apologize. You sure you're okay?

I'm fine, really.

Actually, it's been helpful.

But I guess I should get to work.

Well, it wasn't fair of me to do that.

I'm pretty well-endowed physically.

Don't feel bad, though.

I wouldn't be much of a match for you at mental gymnastics.

Give me a holler, if you need anything.


If I close my eyes, I can almost smell the live oak.

That's chicken fat, Bill.

My olfactory's turning womanish on me, lying and deceitful.

Still, I must say, I haven't felt a peace like this since the grand productive days.

Don't you find it so, Barton?

Ain't writing peace?

Well...

Actually no, Bill.

No, I've always found that writing comes from a great inner pain.

Maybe it's a pain that comes from a realization that one must do something for one's fellow man to help somehow ease the suffering.

Maybe it's personal pain.

At any rate, I don't believe good work is possible without it.

Well, me, I just enjoy making things up.

Yes, sir, escape.

It's when I can't write, can't escape myself, that I wanna rip my head off and run screaming through the street with my balls in a fruit-picker's pail.

This'll sometimes help. That doesn't help anything, Bill.

That's true. I've never found that to help my writing.

Your writin'?

Son, have you ever heard the story of Solomon's mammy?

Barton, you should read this, I think it's Bill's finest or among his finest, anyway.

So, now I'm supposed to roll over like a bitch dog getting my belly scratched?

Look, maybe it's none of my business but don't you think a man with your talent, that your first obligation is to your gift?

Shouldn't you be doing whatever you have to do to work again?

And what would that be, son? I don't know exactly, but I do know what you're doing with that drink, you're cutting yourself off from your gift and from Audrey, and from your fellow man and from everything your art is about.

No, son. I'm building a levee.

Gulp by gulp, brick by brick.

Puttin' up a levee to keep that ragin' river of manure from lappin' at my door.

Maybe you'd better too, Barton, before you get buried under his manure.

My honey pretends to be impatient with me, Barton, but she'll put up with anything.

Not anything, Bill. Don't test me.

You're lucky she puts up with you as much as she does.

Am I? Maybe to a schoolboy's eye.

People who know about the human heart, maybe they'd say, "Bill over here, he gives his honey love and she pays him back with pity."

The basest coin there is. Stop it, Bill.

Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay Gone are my friends From the cotton fields away Gone from the earth To a better land I know I hear their gentle voices callin'

Old Black Joe I'm comin', I'm comin'

Though my head is bending low I hear their gentle...

The truth, my honey, is a tart that does not bear scrutiny.

Breach my levee at your peril.

Gone are my friends...

Son of a bitch. That son of a bitch!

Don't get me wrong, he's a fine writer.

From the earth to a better land...

Are you all right?

Audrey...

I hear their angel voices...

You can't... Go, Barton.

You can't put up with this.

Old Black Joe I feel so sorry for him.

What? He's a son of a bitch.

No, no...

I'm coming...

He, sometimes just...

I hear their angel voices...

Well, he thinks about Estelle.

His wife still lives in Fayetteville.

Old Black Joe...

She's

disturbed.

Really?

I'll just walk on down to the Pacific and from there I'll improvise.

He'll wander back when he's sober and apologize. He always does.

Okay, but that doesn't excuse his behavior. Silence upon a hill in Darien.

Empathy requires understanding.

I'm comin'...

What? What don't I understand?

Though my head is hangin' low I hear their gentle voices calling Old Black Joe


I hope these are your shoes. Charlie?

Because that would mean they gave you mine.

Yeah. As a matter of fact, they did.

Come on in. Jesus, what a day I had.

You ever had one of those days?

Seems like nothing but, lately. Jesus, what a day.

Felt like I couldn't have sold ice water in the Sahara.

Jesus. Okay, so you don't want insurance. Okay, so that's your loss.

But, God, people can be rude.

Feel like I have to talk to a normal person like you just to restore a little of my...

It's my pleasure. I could use a little lift myself.

Little lift, yeah.

Good thing they bottle it, pal?

Did I say rude? People can be goddamn cruel.

Especially some of these housewives.

Okay, so I have a weight problem.

That's my cross to bear. I don't know.

It's a defense mechanism. Defense against what, insurance?

Something they need? Something they should be grateful to me for offering?

A little peace of mind.

Finally decided to knock off early.

Take your advice. Went to see a doctor about this.

He told me I had an ear infection, $10, please.

I says, "Hell, I told you my ear was infected. Why don't you give me $10?"

Well, that led to an argument.

Listen to me bellyaching.

As if my problems amounted to a hill of beans.

How goes the life of the mind?

Well, it's been better.

I just can't seem to get going on this thing.

The one idea, the one that lets you get started, I still haven't gotten it.

Maybe I only had one idea in me. My play.

Maybe once that was done, I was done being a writer.

Christ. I feel like a fraud.

Sitting here, staring at this paper.

Those two lovebirds next door driving you nuts?

How do you know about that?

Know about it? I can practically see how they're doin' it.

Brother, I wish I had a piece of that.

Seems like I hear everything that goes on in this dump.

Pipes or somethin'. Yeah, but...

You'll lick this picture business, believe me. You got a head on your shoulders.

And what is it they say? Where there's a head, there's hope.

Where there's life, there's hope. See, that proves you really are a writer.

There's hope for you, too, Charlie.

Tomorrow, I bet you sell a half-dozen policies.

Thanks, brother, but the fact is I gotta pull up stakes for a while.

You're leaving? In a few days.

Out to your stomping ground, as a matter of fact, New York City.

Things have gotten all balled up at the head office.

I'm truly sorry to hear that, Charlie. I'll miss you.

Well, hell, buddy, don't pull a long face.

This is home to me. I keep a room here and I'll be back, sooner or later.

And mark my words, by the time I get back, your picture'll be finished, I know it.

New York can be pretty cruel to strangers, Charlie.

If you need a home-cooked meal, you just look up Sam and Lillian Fink.

They live on Fulton Street with my Uncle Maury.

Christ.

Your room does that, too.

I guess the heat's sweating off the wallpaper.

What a dump.

I guess this must seem pretty pathetic to a guy like you.

Well...

But it's pathetic, isn't it?

I mean, to a guy from New York?

What do you mean?

This kind of heat. Pathetic.

I guess you pick your poison.

So they say.

Don't pick up and leave without saying good-bye.

Course not, compadre.

You'll see me again.


Bango, you're dead, you're a corpse. You got me.

Okay. Go, go. You son of a gun.

Yeah. Fink.

Come in, come on.

What do you got for me? What the hell happened to your face?

Nothing. It's just a mosquito bite.

Like hell it is. There are no mosquitoes in Los Angeles.

Mosquitoes breed in swamps. This is a desert. What do you got for me?

Well, I...

On the Beery picture. Where are we? What do you got?

Well, I'm having a little trouble getting started.

Getting... Christ Jesus, started? You don't have anything yet?

Well, not much. What the hell do you think this is? Hamlet?

Gone With The Wind? Ruggles Of Red...

It's a goddamn B-picture. Big men in tights. You know the drill.

I'm afraid I don't really understand that genre.

Maybe that's the problem.

Understand shit. I thought you were gonna consult another writer on this.

Well, I've talked to Bill Mayhew. Bill Mayhew?

Mayhew? Some help! The guy's a souse.

He's a great writer. A great souse!

You don't understand. Souse!

He's in pain because he can't write. Souse!

Souse! He can't write.

He manages to write his name on the back of his paycheck every week.

But I thought no one cared about this picture.

You thought? Where the hell did you get that from? You thought.

Listen, I don't know what the hell you said to Lipnick, but the son of a bitch likes you.

You understand that, Fink? He likes you. He's taken an interest.

Never make Lipnick like you. Never!

I don't understand.

Are you deaf? He likes you! He's taken an interest.

What the hell did you say to him?

I didn't say anything. Well, he's taken an interest.

That means he'll make your life hell, which I could care less about.

But since I drew the short straw to supervise this turkey, he's gonna be all over me, too.

Fat-assed son of a bitch called me yesterday to ask me how it's going.

Don't worry, I covered for you.

I told him you were making progress, we were all very excited.

I told him it was great.

Understand that? So now my ass is on the line.

He wants you to tell him all about it tomorrow.

I can't write anything by tomorrow.

Who said write? Jesus, Jack can't read.

You gotta tell it to him. Tell him something, for Christ's sake.

What do I tell him?

Yes, Mr. Geisler. Projection.

Jerry. Jerry! Ben Geisler here.

Hi, Ben. Yeah.

Any of the screening rooms free this afternoon?

Yeah, I think... Good! Book it for me.

I got a writer here, Fink.

He's coming in. You're gonna show him wrestling pictures.

Which ones? I don't give a shit which ones.

Wrestling pictures!

Wait a minute. Isn't Victor Sjoderberg shooting one now?

Yeah, he's... Well, show him some of the dailies on that.

Okay, Ben, I'll show him...

All right. This'll give you some ideas.

8: 15 tomorrow morning at Lipnick's house.

Ideas.

Broad strokes.

Don't cross me, Fink.

Devil On The...

Devil On The Canvas. 12-apple, take one.

Action!

I will destroy him!

Cut, cut, cut, cut!

Devil On The Canvas, 12-apple, take two.

Action!

I will destroy him.

Cut, cut!

Rolling! Devil On The Canvas, 12-apple, take four.

Action!

I will destroy him!

Cut! Cut! Cut!

Devil On The Canvas, 12-apple, take five.

I will destroy him!

12-apple, take six. I will destroy him!

12-apple, take seven.

I will destroy him!

12-baker, take one.

I will destroy him.

12-Charlie, take one.

Take two.

One, two...

Take seven.


Orphan? Dame?

Front desk. Hello, Chet?

This is Barton Fink, in room 621.

Could you try a number for me in Hollywood?

Sure. Slauson, 64304.

Right away, sir.

Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.

Hello? Audrey, I need help. I know it's late.

And I shouldn't be calling you like this.

Believe me, I wouldn't have if I had any other alternative.

But I'm sorry... Listen, how are you? I'm sorry. You doing okay?

Who is this?

Barton! I'm sorry. It's Barton Fink.

Barton, I'm afraid it's not a good time.

I'm sorry, I just feel like I need...

I know I shouldn't ask. I just need some kind of help, I just...

I have a deadline tomorrow.

All right, Barton. I'll see if I can slip away.

If you could, I'd be... lf I can.

He gets jealous.

I need help, Audrey.

I'll try to slip out if he quiets down, passes out.

I'm afraid he thinks...

Well, he said you were a buffoon, Barton.

Uh-huh.

He becomes irrational.

Uh-huh, uh-huh.

I'll see if I can slip away.

Who is that!

Audrey, thank you for coming.

Thank you.

Hello, Barton. I'm sorry to be such a... Such a...

Thank you. That's all right, Barton.

Everything's gonna be all right.

Yes. Thank you.

Thank you. Yes. Thank you.

How's Bill?

He's...

He drifted off. He'll sleep for a while now.

What is it you have to do, exactly?

Well...

I have to come up with an outline, I guess you'd call it.

The story. The whole goddamn story.

Soup to nuts. Three acts. The whole goddamn...

That's all right, Barton. You don't have to write actual scenes.

No, but the whole goddamn...

Audrey, have you ever read any of Bill's wrestling scenarios?

Yes, I'm afraid I have.

What are they like? What are they about?

Well, usually they're simple morality tales.

There's a good wrestler and a bad wrestler whom he confronts at the end.

In between the good wrestler has a love interest or a small child he has to protect.

Bill would usually make the good wrestler a backwoods type or a convict.

And sometimes, instead of a waif, he'd have the wrestler protecting an idiot man-child.

The studio always hated that.

Some of the scripts were so spirited.

Barton...

Look, it's really just a formula. You don't have to type your soul into it.

We'll invent some names, a new setting. I'll help you. Won't take any time at all.

I did it for Bill so many times.

You did what for Bill?

Well, this.

You wrote his scripts for him?

Well, the basic ideas were frequently his.

You wrote Bill's scripts?

Jesus, you wrote his...

What about before that?

Before what? Before Bill came to Hollywood.

Bill was always the author, so to speak.

What do you mean "so to speak"?

Audrey, how long have you been his secretary?

Barton, I think we should concentrate on our little project.

I wanna know how many of Bill's books you wrote.

Barton... I wanna know!

Barton, honestly.

Only the last couple.

And my input was mostly editorial, really.

After he'd been drinking.

I'll bet.

Jesus, the grand productive days.

What a goddamn phony.

W.P. Mayhew. William goddamn Phony Mayhew.

All his guff about escape. I'll say he escaped!

Well, we don't have much time.

It'll be fine.

Don't judge him, Barton.

Don't condescend to him.

I help Bill most by understanding him, by appreciating him.

We all need understanding, Barton.

Even you, tonight.

It's all you really need.


Barton?

Barton, are you all right?

No, I'm fine, thank you.

Are you sure? No, no.


Barton, are you all right?

No. Can I come in?

Let's go to your room.

Charlie, I'm in trouble. You gotta help me.

Get a grip on yourself, brother.

Whatever the problem is, we can sort it out.

Charlie, I'm in trouble. Something horrible's happened.

I gotta call the police. Will you stay with me till they get here?

Don't worry about it, Barton. We can work it out.

Before you go in, I didn't do this.

I don't know how it happened, but I didn't...

I want you to know that.

Okay.


Jesus, Barton, what the hell is this? What are we gonna do?

I gotta call the police. Hold on. Hold on.

I didn't do this, I did not do this. Hold on.

Hold on. Hold on! Stop.

Take a deep breath now.

Tell me what happened. I passed out. I don't know.

Won't the police be able to... Stop with the police!

Wake up, friend! This does not look good! They hang people for this.

But I didn't do it. Don't you believe me?

I believe you, I know you. Why should the police?

Did you...

Barton, between you and me, did you have sexual intercourse?

Jesus, they can tell that.

They gotta believe me.

They gotta have mercy.

You're in pictures, Barton.

Even if they cleared you, eventually, this would ruin you.

Come on, wait in the bathroom.


Oh, Lord. Oh, Lordy. Oh, my Lord.

You passed out.

Where's Audrey?

She's dead, Barton.

She's dead, if that was her name.

Barton, listen to me. You gotta act as if nothing has happened.

Put this totally out of your head.

I know that's hard, but your play from here on out is just to go on about your business as usual.

Give us some time to sort this out.

Bart! So happy to see you.

Sit, talk. Relax for a minute, then talk.

Drink?

Ah...

Yeah.

Rye whiskey?

Boy, you writers work hard, play hard.

That's what I hear, anyway. Lou!

Anyway. Ben Geisler tells me things are going along great.

Says we got a real winner in this one.

Let me tell you something, I'm counting on it.

I've taken an interest. Nothing to fear, mind you.

Hardly seems necessary in your case. A writer, a storyteller of your stature.

Give it to me in bold strokes, Bart.

Give me the broad outlines.

I'm sitting in the audience, the lights go down.

Capitol logo comes up.

You're on.

Yeah. Okay.

Well...

We fade in.

It's a tenement building on the Lower East Side.

Great. He's poor, this wrestler. He's had to struggle.

And then...

Well...

Can I be honest, Mr. Lipnick?

Can you?

Jesus, you damn well better be.

If I wasn't honest in my business dealing...

Well, of course you can't always be honest, not with the sharks swimming around this town.

But you're a writer, you don't think about those things.

If I had been totally honest, I wouldn't be within a mile of this pool unless I was cleaning it.

But that's no reason for you not to be.

Honest, I mean. Not cleaning the pool.

To be honest, uh, I'm never really comfortable discussing work in progress.

I got it all worked out in my head, but sometimes, if you force it into words prematurely, the wrong words, well, your meaning changes in...

Changes in your own mind and you never get it back.

So I'd just as soon as not talk about it.

Mr. Fink, never mind me, never mind how long I've been in pictures.

Mr. Lipnick has been in pictures just about since they was invented.

He practically invented them.

I think if he's interested in what one of his contract employees is doing, that employee should be able to tell him, if he wants to stay an employee.

Right now, the contents of your head are the property of Capitol Pictures.

If I was you, I would speak up and pretty goddamn fast.

You lousy kike son of a bitch.

You're telling this man, this artist, what to do?

Mr. Lipnick, I... This man creates for a living.

Thank him for it, you son of a bitch, or you're fired.

Mr. Lipnick, that's really not necessary. Get down on your knees, you son of a bitch.

Get down on your knees and kiss this man's feet.

Mr. Lipnick, please.

Kiss this man's feet!

Get out of here! You understand me?

You're out of here. You're fired. Get out of my sight.

I... I apologize, Barton.

No, no. Mr. Breeze actually has been a great help.

You don't have to cover for him. It's very noble of you.

These things happen in business.

I really would feel much better if you'd just reconsider.

Forget it, kid. I want you to put it out of your head.

If that son of a bitch wouldn't apologize to you, then goddamn it, I will.

I respect your artistry and your methods.

And if you can't fill us in yet, well, hell, we should be kissing your feet for your fine efforts.

You know...

In the old country we were taught as very young children that there's no shame in supplicating yourself when you respect someone.

On behalf of Capitol Pictures, the administration, and all of the stockholders, please accept this as a symbol of our apology and respect.


Barton, can I come in?

Jesus, you're leaving?

I have to, old-timer, just for a little while.

Jesus. Charlie, I...

Everything's okay, believe me.

I know it's rough, mentally, but everything's been taken care of.

Charlie, I got no one else here.

You're the only person I know in Los Angeles that I can talk to.

I feel like I'm losing my mind, like I'm going crazy.

I don't know what to do.

I didn't do it, believe me, I'm sure of that, Charlie, I...

You gotta get a grip on, brother.

You just gotta carry on, just for a few days till I get back.

Try and stay here, keep your door locked, don't talk to anyone.

We gotta keep our heads and we'll figure it out.

Okay, but what if... Don't argue with me.

You asked me to believe you and I do. Now don't argue with me.

Look, pal, can you do something for me?

Keep that for me till I get back.

It's just a lot of personal stuff, but I don't want to drag it with me.

And I'd like to think it's in good hands. Funny, huh.

When everything that's important to a guy, everything he wants to keep from a lifetime, and he can fit it all into a little box like that.

I guess...

I guess it's pretty pathetic.

It's more than I've got.

Well, keep it for me, maybe it'll bring you good luck.

Yeah, it'll help you finish your script. You'll think about me.

Make me your wrestler, then you'll lick that story of yours.

Thanks, Charlie.

Yeah, yeah, sure.

I'll see you soon, friend. You'll be fine.

And you'll be back?

Don't worry about that, compadre. I'll be back.


Have you read the Bible, Pete?

The Holy Bible?

Yeah.

Yeah, I think so.

Anyway, I've heard about it.

Fink? Yeah.

Detective Mastrionotti. Detective Deutsch.

LAPD.

Uh-huh.

Got some questions we want to ask you.

Just routine. Sit down.

What do you do, Fink?

I write.

Yeah? What kind of writing?

Well, as a matter of fact, I write for the pictures.

Big fucking deal. Want my partner to kiss your ass?

Would that be good enough for you?

No, I didn't mean to sound... What did you mean?

I got respect for working guys like you.

Jesus, ain't that a load off?

You live in 621? Yeah.

How long you been up there, Fink?

A week. Eight, nine days.

Is this multiple choice? You know this slob?

Yeah, he lives next door to me.

That's right, Fink.

He lives next door to you. You ever talk to him?

Once or twice.

His name is Charlie Meadows.

Yeah, and I'm Buck Rogers.

His name's Mundt. Karl Mundt.

Also known as Madman Mundt.

A little funny in the head.

What did he... Funny, as in he likes to ventilate people with a shotgun and then cut their heads off.

Yeah, he's funny that way.

He started in Kansas City. A couple housewives.

A couple of days ago we got the same MO out at Los Feliz.

Doctor. Ear, nose and throat man. All of which is now missing.

Well, some of his throat was there. Physician, heal thyself.

Good luck with fucking no head. Anyway.

Hollywood Precinct finds another stiff yesterday.

Not too far from here. This one's better looking than the doc.

Female Caucasian, about 30 years old. Nice tits, no head.

Ever see Mundt with anyone fits that description?

But, you know, with the head still on.

No. I never saw him with anyone else.

So you did talk to Mundt. What about?

Nothing really. He said he was in the insurance business.

Yeah, and he's Buck Rogers.

No reputable company would hire a guy like that.

Well, that's what he said.

What else?

I'm trying to think.

Nothing, really. He...

He said he liked Jack Oakie pictures.

You know, ordinarily we say anything you might remember could be helpful.

But I'll be frank with you, Fink, that is not helpful.

Notice how he's not writing it down?

Fink?

That's a...

A Jewish name, isn't it?

Yeah.

I didn't think this dump was restricted.

Mundt has disappeared, I don't think he'll be back.

But give me a call if you see him.

Or if you remember something that isn't totally idiotic.


"Fade in.

"A young hussy opens the door

"to the burlyman's apartment.

"If you were a man, "a real man, you'd slap me.

"I've put my mark on you.

"Yours... Indelibly...

"Me, I come out feeling sick.

"That's it, that's it, champ.

"Fade in. Maury's house.

"Painted women. In the air, the burlyman...

"Bright blue oyster...

"With one light move...

"The burlyman... She's a good woman.

"I don't care what

"people say, life must...

"Tell Burlyman we have to deduct those expenses from his purse.

"I don't care. It's lonely after all these years..."

Hold the line, sir, I have your call.

Hello, operator? I can't...

Oh, God.

Hello? Garland, it's me.

Barton? What time is it? Are you all right?

Yeah, I'm fine. I have to talk to you, Garland.

I'm calling long distance.

What is it, Barton? Are you okay?

Yeah, I'm fine, Garland, but I have to talk to you.

It's about what I'm writing.

I think it's really...

I think it's really big.

What do you mean? Not big in the sense of large, although it's that, too. I mean important.

This may be the most important work I've ever done.

Barton, is everything okay?

You sound a little...

Sound a little what?

You sound a little...

Thanks, Garland. Thanks for all the encouragement.

Nitwit.


Excuse me, buddy. Mind if I cut in?

This is my dance, sailor.

Hey, come on, buddy, I'm shipping out tomorrow.

I'm a writer, celebrating the completion of something good.

Do you understand that, sailor? Beat it, creep.

Come on, buddy, give the navy a dance.

Let somebody else spin the dame.

Step aside, four eyes.

Hey, 4F, take a hike.

Suck an egg. Go sit on a tomato.

I'm a writer, you monsters. I create.

I create for a living!

I'm a creator! I am a creator!

He's screwy. This is my uniform.

This is how I serve the common man. This is where I...

Get 'em, boys.


"Where is my little boy?

"He left this morning.

"Said he had a job to do.

"There was something in his eyes. Something new.

"Mother: What's to become of him?

"Father: We'll be hearing from that crazy wrestler, "and I don't mean a postcard.

"Fade out. The end."

I thought you said you were a writer.

Now I don't know, Duke. I kind of liked it.

Keep your filthy eyes off of that.

You made the morning papers, Fink.

Second one of your friends to wind up dead.

You do get around, don't you, Fink?

You didn't tell us you knew the dame. Sixth floor too high for you, Fink?

Give you nosebleeds?

Just tell me one thing, Fink. Where'd you put the heads?

Charlie. Charlie's back.

No kidding, bright boy. We smelled Mundt all over this.

Was he the idea man?

Tell us where the heads are. Maybe they'll go easy on you.

Only fry you once.

Could you two come back later?

It's just too hot, my head is killing me.

All right, forget the heads. Where's Mundt, Fink?

He teach you how to do it? You two have some sick sex thing?

Sex?

He's a man. We wrestled.

You're a sick fuck, Fink.

Charlie's back.

It's hot, he's back.


Fred.

Sit tight, Fink.

Why is it so goddamn hot out here?

Duke.


Mundt!

Mundt! Show yourself.


There's a boy, Mundt.

Put the policy case down and your mitts in the air.

He's complying.

Look upon me!

I'll show you the life of the mind!

Look upon me!

I'll show you the life of the mind! I'll show you the life of the mind!

I'll show you the life of the mind!

I will show you the life of the mind!


Heil Hitler.

Barton.

Brother, is it hot.

How you been, buddy?

Don't look at me like that.

It's just me, Charlie.

I hear it's Mundt. Madman Mundt.

Jesus, people can be cruel.

If it's not my build, it's my personality.

They say I'm a madman, Bart, but I'm not mad at anyone.

Honest, I'm not.

Most guys I just feel sorry for.

It tears me up inside to think about what they're going through, how trapped they are.

I understand it.

I feel for them.

So I try and help them out.

Jesus.

Yeah. Yeah.

I know what it feels like when things get all balled up at the head office.

It puts you through hell, Barton.

So I help people out.

I just wish someone would do as much for me.

Jesus, it's hot.

Sometimes it gets so hot I want to crawl right out of my skin.

But, Charlie, why me?

Why... Because you don't listen!

Jesus, I'm dripping again.

Come on, Barton.

You think you know pain?

You think I made your life hell?

Take a look around this dump.

You're just a tourist with a typewriter, Barton, I live here.

Don't you understand that?

And you come into my home,

and you complain that I'm making too much noise.

I'm sorry.

Don't be.


I'll be next door if you need me.

Oh, I dropped in on your folks in New York and Uncle Maury.

Good people.

By the way, that package I gave you, I lied. It isn't mine.


Fink. Samuel or Lillian Fink. 85 Fulton Street.

I under... Or Uncle Maury.

I understand that, sir, but there's still no answer.

Mr. Fink!

Shall I check for trouble on the line?

Fink.

Mr. Lipnick?

Colonel Lipnick, if you don't mind. Sit down.

I was commissioned yesterday in the Army Reserve.

Henry Morgenthau arranged it. Dear friend.

Congratulations.

Well, actually it hasn't officially gone through yet.

I had wardrobe whip this up.

You gotta pull teeth to get anything done in this town.

I can understand a little red tape in peacetime, but now it's all-out warfare against the Japs.

Little yellow bastards. They'd love to see me sit this one out.

Yes, sir. They...

Anyway. I had Lou read your script for me.

I gotta tell you, Fink.

It won't wash.

With all due respect, sir, I think it's the best work I've done.

Don't gas me, Fink.

If your opinion mattered, I guess I'd resign or let you run the studio.

Well, it doesn't and you won't.

Now, the lunatics are not gonna run this particular asylum, so let's put a stop to that rumor right now.

Yes, sir.

I had to call Beery this morning, tell him we're pushing the picture back, after all I'd told him about quality, about that Barton Fink feeling.

How disappointed we were.

Wally was heartbroken, the man was devastated.

He was...

Well, I didn't actually call him, Lou did.

But that's a fair description, isn't it, Lou?

Yes, Colonel.

Hell, I could take you through it step by step explaining why your story stinks.

But I won't insult your intelligence. Well, all right.

First of all, this is a wrestling picture.

The audience wants to see action, adventure, wrestling and plenty of it.

They don't want to see a guy wrestling with his soul.

Well, all right, a little bit for the critics.

But you make it the carrot that wags the dog.

Too much of it, they head for the exits. I don't blame them.

There's plenty of poetry right inside that ring, Fink.

Look at Hell, Ten Feet Square.

Blood, Sweat and Canvas. Blood, Sweat and Canvas.

These are big movies, Fink, about big men, in tights!

Both physically and mentally.

Especially physically.

We don't put Wally Beery in a fruity movie about suffering.

I thought we were together on that.

Sorry if I let you down.

You didn't let me down, Fink, or even Lou.

We don't live or die by what you scribble. You let Ben Geisler down.

He liked you, trusted you. And that's why he's gone, he's fired.

That man had a heart as big as the all outdoors and you fucked him.

He tried to convince me to fire you, too, but no, that'd be too easy.

Now, you're under contract. You're gonna stay that way.

Anything you write is gonna be the property of Capitol Pictures and Capitol Pictures is not gonna produce anything you write.

Not until you grow up a little.

You ain't no writer, Fink, you're a goddamn write-off.

I tried to show you something beautiful.

Something about all of us.

You arrogant son of a bitch.

You think you're the only writer that can give me that Barton Fink feeling?

I got 20 writers under contract I can ask for a Fink-type thing from!

You swell-headed hypocrite, you just don't get it, do you?

You think the whole world revolves around whatever rattles inside that little kike head of yours.

Get him out of my sight, Lou.

I want him in town, though. He's still under contract.

I want you in town, Fink, and out of my sight.

Now get lost.

There's a war on.


It's a beautiful day.

Huh?

I said it's a beautiful day.

Yes. It is.

What's in the box?

I don't know.

Isn't it yours?

I don't know.

You're very beautiful.

Are you in pictures?