The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski (1998)

TOBACCO INCIDENTS 150
AVG PER MINUTE 1.34
EDITION Polygram DVD released October 27, 1998
MOVIE SUMMARY A pothead slacker goes bowling and becomes peripherally involved in a kidnapping scheme with a millionaire who shares his name.
TOBACCO IN SHORT Jeff Bridges smokes wacky-tobacky, John Goodman smokes Marlboro reds, one bowler is named Smokey, a man in an iron lung, etc.
POSSIBLE SMOKESCREENS (?) The amazing music, the dream sequences, the strange cowboy’s narration and brief appearances, Jesus the pedophile, the sudden death of young Donny.

TOBACCO INCIDENTS: 150

AVG PER MINUTE: 1.34

First visual frame at 0:13
Last visual frame at 112:13
Total visual running time: 112:00

# TIME ANGLE DESCRIPTION
* 2:00 ES/Dolly in A Ralphs supermarket is shown during the first appearance of Jeff Bridges.
* 2:35 Dolly in Continued from previous shot: Many brand name dairy products are clearly visible in the grocery store.
* 3:08 CU A small Panasonic television is visible.
* 5:35 Various Many Brunswick brand bowling products are visible in the opening credits montage.
* 5:35 CU A bottle of Miller Lite & a bottle of Miller Genuine Draft are visible.
1-2 5:35 CU Two ashtrays built into the scoring desk are visible.
3-4 6:00 ECU An anonymous hand ashes a cigarette into a similar built in ashtray; presented as texture during the opening credits montage.
* 7:19 FS Two Miller Beer neon signs are visible in the background.
5 7:27 MD John Goodman taps an unlit cigarette in the background.
6-7 7:34 3S John Goodman is holding an unlit cigarette, a Zippo lighter & a plastic Miller Lite beer cup. An ashtray built into the chairs is also visible.
John Goodman holds a cigarette between his fingers in exact copy of Steve Buscemi seated next to him who holds a white scoring pen instead.
8 8:25 3S Continued from previous shot: The big black man in the background takes a drag from a cigarette.
John Goodman gestures with his cigarette so much in this scene it is impossible to miss.
9-10 9:01 2S John Goodman still holding an unlit cigarette & same ashtray built into the chairs.
* 9:01 2S Two Miller Genuine Draft beer bottles are visible in the background.
* 9:13 MD Jeff Bridges picks up a plastic Miller Lite beer cup and holds it at center screen timed precisely with the signature sound of a Zippo lighter.
11-12 9:15 2S John Goodman talks with an unlit cigarette in his mouth; he prepares to light it with a Zippo lighter & same ashtray built into the chairs.
12-13 9:20 2S John Goodman lights his cigarette with a Zippo lighter & same ashtray built into the chairs.
14 9:27 2S Smoke is seen rising from John Goodman’s implied cigarette.
15 9:36 2S Smoke is seen rising from John Goodman’s implied cigarette.
16 9:41 2S John Goodman exhales a puff of smoke.
All of the beer cups in this scene have a Miller Lite logo while Steve Buscemi drinks an unbranded can of soda pop.
17 11:30 MD Jeff Bridges mentions “…smoking alot of Thai stick…” which is actually wacky tobacky.
18-20 11:51 ES/Dolly in Two unlit cigars & a large ashtray are visible on Big Lebowski’s desk.
There may actually be two ashtrays on Big Lebowski’s desk next to the two cigars however one is just a plain black square dish so I won’t count it as such.
21-23 12:09 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
24-26 12:26 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
27-29 12:38 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
30-32 13:08 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
33-35 13:19 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
36-38 13:39 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
39-41 13:44 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
42-44 14:03 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
45-47 14:16 MD Same two cigars & large ashtray on Big Lebowski’s desk.
48 16:19 HH A built in ashtray is seen on the scoring desk at the bowling alley.
49 16:21 HH A man taking a drag from a cigarette as John Goodman arrives.
* 16:26 3S Continued from previous shot: A Miller Lite beer bottle on the scoring desk in front of Jeff Bridges.
* 16:32 3S Jeff Bridges holds a white marker between his fingers which looks like a cigarette.
* 17:15 Various A bowler named “Smokey” is mentioned five times & also seen embroidered on his bowling shirt ten times within about one minute.
Of all the names to choose from… Are the Coens so desperate to put the idea of smoking into your head that they would name a character Smokey? Well yes, obviously.
* 18:35 HH The name “Smokey” is mentioned again outside the bowling alley by Jeff Bridges as he & John Goodman walk to the car.
* 19:47 HH Jeff Bridges receives a phone message from character named Smokey.
* 20:01 HH Continued from previous shot: Two bottles of Kalua & two bottles of Smirnoff vodka are visible on Jeff Bridges’ bar.
50 21:19 BE An ashtray is visible on Jeff Bridges coffee table.
51 22:55 MD Jeff Bridges pulls out a wacky tobacky cigarette and asks “Mind if I do a J?”
52 23:00 MD Jeff Bridges with a wacky tobacky cigarette in his mouth as he prepares to light it with a Zippo lighter.
53 23:12 MD Jeff Bridges with a wacky tobacky cigarette.
54 23:29 MD Jeff Bridges with a wacky tobacky cigarette.
55 23:40 CU Smoke is seen next to the closeup of the ransom note.
56 23:43 MD Jeff Bridges with a wacky tobacky cigarette in his mouth.
57 23:50 CU Smoke is seen next to the closeup of the ransom note.
58 23:53 MD Jeff Bridges takes a drag from a wacky tobacky cigarette.
59 24:35 2S Jeff Bridges takes a drag from a wacky tobacky cigarette.
60-61 25:47 Dolly in Two built in ashtrays on the scoring desk at the bowling alley.
* 25:47 Dolly in Two bottles of Miller Genuine Draft & a new plastic Miller beer cup are visible.
62-63 26:17 Dolly in Two built in ashtrays are visible on the scoring desks.
* 26:17 Dolly in Several bottles of Miller Genuine Draft are visible on the scoring desks.
* 26:17 Dolly in Two cans of Pepsi are visible on the scoring desks.
64 27:58 FS A built in ashtray is visible on the scoring desk.
* 28:34 2S A bottle of Miller Genuine Draft is visible between Jeff Bridges & John Goodman.
65 29:04 2S A built in ashtray is seen in the background.
* 29:20 CU A Sony Walkman cassette player is visible.
66 31:09 Crane An ashtray is partially visible on Jeff Bridges’ coffee table.
* 31:56 Car A liquor store appears next door to John Goodman’s security office storefront.
67 34:28 MD John Goodman smokes a cigarette whilst driving the car.
68-71 37:08 HA/Dolly in John Goodman with a lit cigarette in his mouth, two built in ashtrays, a pack of Marlboro reds & a new glass ashtray are all visible on the scoring desk.
On the scoring desk are three items representing the guys: a pack of Marlboros for John Goodman, a beer bottle for Jeff Bridges, a can of soda for Steve Buscemi.
72 38:18 MD Rising smoke from John Goodman’s implied cigarette.
73 38:31 MD Rising smoke from John Goodman’s implied cigarette.
74 38:47 MD Rising smoke from John Goodman’s implied cigarette.
75-79 39:19 Dolly Four ashtrays are visible on tables & a man smoking at the bar as the three guys are walking out.
80 39:48 Dolly Continued from previous shot: A big red NO SMOKING sign appears inside the entrance to the bowling alley.
Really, are you sure?! A big red NO SMOKING sign at the entrance while several built in ashtrays are located on every single lane. Interesting!!!
81-82 40:43 2S An ashtray appears on the coffee table containing a pipe shaped like a bowling pin.
83-84 40:52 WS Same ashtray on coffee table & bowling pin pipe.
* 40:52 WS An empty bag of Fritos corn chips is visible in the background.
85-86 41:03 2S Same ashtray on coffee table & one of the police officers picks up the bowling pin pipe.
87-88 41:19 2S Same ashtray on coffee table & police officer sifting through it with the bowling pin pipe.
89-90 41:37 2S Same ashtray on coffee table & police officer holding the bowling pin pipe.
91-92 41:48 2S Same ashtray on coffee table & police officer holding the bowling pin pipe.
93-94 42:00 2S Same ashtray on coffee table & police officer holding the bowling pin pipe.
95-96 42:17 2S Same ashtray on coffee table & bowling pin pipe.
* 44:07 MD Several liquor bottles & a bottle of Smirnoff vodka are visible on the bar in Julianne Moore’s loft.
* 45:13 MD Jeff Bridges dialog: “Do you have any Kalua?”
* 48:38 OTS Dialog: “Who’s your friend in the Volkswagen?”
* 48:41 ES First appearance of the blue Volkswagen Beetle.
* 53:30 MD A Pepsi sign is visible in the background at the diner.
97 53:51 2S Jeff Bridges drops a wacky tobacky cigarette on the counter when leaving some coins.
* 54:08 WS A Pepsi clock and another Pepsi sign are visible at the diner.
98 54:20 MD Jeff Bridges smokes the “roach” of a wacky tobacky cigarette clamped with hemostats while soaking in the bathtub.
99 54:29 MD Jeff Bridges smokes the “roach” of a wacky tobacky cigarette clamped with hemostats while soaking in the bathtub.
100 54:53 MD Jeff Bridges holding the “roach” of a wacky tobacky cigarette clamped with hemostats while soaking in the bathtub.
* 54:59 MD A bottle of Mr. Bubble is visible behind Jeff Bridges on the bathtub shelf.
101 55:00 MD Jeff Bridges holding the “roach” of a wacky tobacky cigarette clamped with hemostats while soaking in the bathtub.
102 55:18 MD Jeff Bridges holding the “roach” of a wacky tobacky cigarette clamped with hemostats while soaking in the bathtub.
* 55:20 MD A Scrubbing Bubble toy or scrub brush is visible on the bathtub.
103-108 57:20 ES John Goodman holding a lit cigarette, two glass ashtrays, a pack of Marlboro reds & Zippo ligher on the bar, two ashtrays on tables in background.
* 57:20 ES A can of Slice soda pop sits in front of Steve Buscemi on the bar.
Sam Elliott, the narrator, appears suddenly after a slow & subtle zoom in / zoom out. Did I mention he’s dressed like the Marlboro Man?
109-111 60:53 2S Same glass ashtray partially visible on the bar & two ashtrays on background tables.
112 65:04 MD Jeff Bridges smokes the “roach” of a wacky tobacky cigarette whilst drinking a beer and driving.
* 65:12 CU Second appearance of the blue Volkswagen Beetle.
113 65:18 MD Jeff Bridges holding the “roach” & a beer whilst driving.
114 65:30 MD Jeff Bridges takes a drag from the “roach” whilst driving.
115 65:37 MD Jeff Bridges flicks the “roach” at a closed window & it bounces back.
116 65:38 CU Closeup of the “roach” landing in Jeff Bridges’ lap.
* 65:44 WS A Ford brand truck rolls toward the screen then drives past.
* 67:29 3S In-N-Out Burger is mentioned several times.
117 69:38 ES An ashtray is visible on the coffee table.
* 69:38 ES Ironically, a man with “health problems” appears inside of an iron lung.
118 69:50 ES Same ashtray is visible on the coffee table.
119 73:26 CU Closeup of a small copper ashtray on the floor.
120-121 74:08 MD Same small copper ashtray on the floor & Jeff Bridges removes a wacky tobacky cigarette from it.
122 74:24 MD Jeff Bridges with a wacky tobacky cigarette in his mouth.
123 74:31 MD Jeff Bridges with a wacky tobacky cigarette in his mouth.
* 78:49 MD In-N-Out Burger is mentioned again by Jeff Bridges.
* 84:49 CU A Ralphs grocery store “value club card” is shown.
* 86:12 Truck A Ford brand automobile (Crown-Victoria) is shown as the taxi.
* 86:33 HH A red Jaguar automobile is shown.
124 87:46 CU/2S Jeff Bridges strikes a match on the bedpost & lights up a “roach” clamped with hemostats.
125 89:10 HH An aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible on a ledge.
126 89:17 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
127 89:39 WS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is clearly visible in the foreground.
128 89:43 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
129 89:57 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
130 90:09 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
131 90:18 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
132 90:26 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
133 90:45 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
134 90:56 FS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is visible.
135 91:19 WS Same aqua colored ashtray filled with junk is clearly visible in the foreground.
* 92:02 WS Same blue Volkswagen Beetle is shown several times.
* 94:11 ES John Goodman arrives to pick up Jeff Bridges in a Chevy van.
* 96:39 ES Same red Jaguar automobile is show again.
* 96:42 MD Same Chevy van rolls into frame.
136 99:11 ES John Goodman has just lit up a cigarette in the background.
137 99:28 MD John Goodman holding a cigarette in the background.
138-140 99:30 2S/Dolly in John Goodman with a lit cigarette & two built in ashtrays on scoring desk.
This is a strange scene where Jeff Bridges paints his nails and John Goodman smokes a cigarette. Perhaps some kind of husband & wife dynamic?
* 99:30 2S Two bottles of MGD on scoring desk & same two Miller beer neon signs in background.
141-143 100:18 3S John Goodman with a lit cigarette & two built in ashtrays on scoring desk.
144-146 100:43 3S John Goodman with a lit cigarette & two built in ashtrays on scoring desk.
* 106:45 2S John Goodman dialog: “Is there a Ralphs around here?”
* 107:23 MD A big red Foldgers coffee can is seen (containing young Donny’s ashes).
147 109:48 ES/Dolly An ashtray with a resting cigarette is visible on an empty table.
148 110:07 2S Continued from previous shot: an ashtray is visible on the bar in front of Jeff Bridges.
* 110:15 2S Two bottles of MGD are placed on the bar in front of Jeff Bridges.
Sam Elliott, the narrator / cowboy / Marlboro Man wraps up the story talking directly into the camera during this scene.
149-150 112:07 HH/ES Two built in ashtrays are visible on the scoring desk.

Additional Thoughts…

In one of the most popular films in the Coen brothers’ canon, The Big Lebowski (1998) turns the traditional detective story on its ear. After worldwide recognition for their last feature film Fargo (1996), audiences were thirsty for more of that wacky Coen brothers flavor. When younger audiences saw The Big Lebowski (1998) it was an instant hit.

Nearly twenty years later, The Big Lebowski (1998) has truly become a cult phenomuna of sorts. The film has definitely been seen by a shitload of teens and is quoted daily around the world. Trust me, this movie is celebrated in dorm rooms and man caves everywhere.

Becoming a cult sensation even bigger than The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), the film has spawned a cult following so enormous that there are even “Lewbowski Fests” which are traveling fan festivals held at bowling alleys all around the country. Heck, I’ve even been to two of the Lebowski Fests myself.

In The Big Lebowski (1998), the Coen brothers actually wrote a bowler named “Smokey” into the original screenplay. Of all the names in the world they could have possibly chosen, they landed on Smokey. Do you still think it’s all a tremendous coincidence or are the Coens so eager to put the idea of smoking into viewers’ heads that they would actually name a character Smokey? Well, yes, obviously. In the final film, not only is the name “Smokey” seen clearly on the man’s bowling shirt at least ten times, the name itself is mentioned over a dozen times in only a few short minutes. Smokey’s scene is actually a funny turning point in the movie, so in some ways you never really even think about the name “Smokey” as ever being related to cigarette smoking per se… At least, I never did. You never think too deeply about his name after you hear it the first time. And that’s probably exactly the point, isn’t it? Like all character actors in each and every Coen picture, this guy really did light up the screen for the short time he was on it.

Ultimately the Coen brothers are able to make tobacco-related shit like this seem so commonplace that a subtle & even somewhat unsubtle reference to tobacco can go by all the time and we the viewers never even think twice. With something like this, it’s as if the Coen brothers really are playing a big joke on everyone. For a moment, I even debated counting the occurrences of the name “Smokey” as actual tobacco incidents since the name itself is kind of smoking related but not in this particular context. After all, it’s just a name right? Yeah right. At the very least I wanted to mention curious references such as this in my detailed spreadsheets because these kinds of subtle tobacco-related “coincidences” are everywhere in the Coen brothers’ movies.

The Big Lebowski (1998) is also bookended with another interesting character, this time with slightly more depth than ol’ Smokey but not too much. I’d say the Coens got this one just right, considering people mock dialog and dress up like characters from this movie at festivals several times a year. This other fella I’m talking about is often referred to as “The Cowboy” and is played by the infamous actor Sam Elliott. With his cowboy hat & handlebar mustache however, the cowboy character also resembles the Marlboro Man in a way. Coincidentally, actor Sam Elliott even played a retired Marlboro Man in the film Thank You for Smoking (2005) so obviously he embodies the character, so to speak.

In The Big Lebowski (1998), Elliott’s raspy yet totally familiar voice narrates the film’s opening by warmly and masculinely introducing audiences to “The Dude” and also closes the movie with “that about wraps her up.” Besides the bookends, I think you only see this friendly cowboy character one other short time during the movie so it is definitely a strange digression of sorts. Just as odd & peculiar (like all things Coen) this cowboy character doesn’t smoke cigarettes though, he prefers ‘a good sasparilla’ instead. To me, it’s like the Coens know exactly where to draw the line with this one. Had they made the cowboy character smoke cigarettes, well, that would have been far too obvious, right? Sasparilla… Come on, who drinks that shit?! I’m sure it’a all an inside joke to the Coen brothers now. And after all the stoners and college kids around the world saw this film, it was an inside joke to them as well.

Supposedly fans of The Big Lebowski movie actually started the Lebowski Fest traveling festival but I wouldn’t be surprised if these were just more double agents funded by Big Tobacco in order to keep the candle burning on tobacco awareness. For those that don’t know, the Lebowski Fest is an “unofficial” tribute to the Coens’ film The Big Lebowski (1998) where fans come together and celebrate everything about the movie. I’ve been to two of them myself although I didn’t dress up in costumes either time but I will admit, it was a pretty fun time meeting & hanging out with other fans of the movie. But now that I think about it, at the bowling events of the festivals that I attended, smoking was totally allowed inside the bowling alleys and people obviously didn’t hesitate to light up. At the deepest end of the rabbit hole, this whole operation is probably just a traveling roadshow for Big Tobacco all done under the umbrella of one wacky movie by the Coen brothers.

Usually the two-day events feature a screening of The Big Lebowski along with open bowling at a bowling alley with “White Russian” alcoholic beverages served (the Dude’s signature drink from the movie) and a ‘come as your favorite character from the movie’ costume contest which I find to be the most brilliant part of the whole operation. After all, when people dress up like “The Dude” (who was played by actor Jeff Bridges) the costume just isn’t complete without the Pendleton sweater and that hand-rolled wacky-tobacky cigarette. And when people dress up like “Walter Sobchek” (played by actor John Goodman) the costume just isn’t complete without the yellow safety glasses, hunting vest & cargo shorts, and that pack of Marlboro cigarettes with a Zippo lighter. If you’ve ever seen the photos from past Lebowski Fests you will see that multiples of each character’s costume often show up to these events, and sometimes even the celebrity actors themselves will make appearances. As I mentioned, the movie has reached a universal cult status unlike any other. The characters have become almost legendary.

For instance, when lead actor Jeff Bridges (who plays “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski) went to throw out the first pitch at a Cub’s baseball game in Chicago, instead of throwing the ball towasrd home plate, Jeff Bridges actually rolled it on the ground like a bowling ball–obviously as a nod to his most famous character.

There’s a very strange character arc in the Coens’ film The Big Lebowski that no one ever talks about… The Dude (played by actor Jeff Bridges) was a pothead. Walter (played by actor John Goodman) was a chainsmoker. Donny (played by actor Steve Buscemi) was a healthy young man. All three men loved bowling. Both Walter & The Dude always drank beer or liquor while young Donny only drank soda. And yet at the end of the movie, young Donny dies suddenly from heart failure!!!!! What kind of fucked up message is this sending? Too much soda pop’ll kill ya… Better switch to cigarettes & beer.

The gang loves to spend their free time bowling. Apparently, they sit around the bowling alley for hours just shooting the shit. Donny drinks a can of soda. The Dude enjoys White Russians. Walter loves to drink beer and smoke cigarettes. The funniest part of the whole thing is, when the gang finally exits the bowling alley, you can see a big red NO SMOKING sign on the front door. Ha! After smoking dozens of cigarettes inside over a period of several days — a big red NO SMOKING sign on the front door. Another tongue-in-cheek nod from the Coens, no doubt.

A colorful bowling alley was chosen for its “aesthetic qualities/visual beauty/etc” according to Joel/Ethan. [citation needed why Coens chose bowling over baseball] As you know, many classic bowling alleys (including this one) feature that attractive art deco design in many different elements. For instance, the sleek, shiny scoring desks that appear on every lane come complete with ashtrays and drink holders. And believe me, these ashtrays definitely get used in the movie. Is it starting to make sense why the Coens might actually be on the lookout for these kinds of locations?

The Coens also brought back their old pal John Goodman to smoke a bunch of cigarettes and clink a Zippo lighter. Since he acts like an irrational gun crazed Vietnam vet in the movie, Goodman’s drinking and chain-smoking doesn’t seem the least bit odd… especially around your average college dorm.

At the very end, the cowboy puts his final spin on the movie whilst talking directly into the camera… “I guess that about wraps her up” Elliott’s cowboy says but he might as well have said: “Lasso some flavor, kids!”

Along with all of the tobacco, this movie contains quite alot of marijuana and alcohol as well. Marijuana appears in the form of joints and alcohol usually appears as Miller and Miller Lite cups of beer, Miller Genuine Draft glass beer bottles, or as the Dude’s “White Russian” drink. In all honesty, The Big Lebowski (1998) is another Coen brothers’ film which contains just as many alcohol incidents as tobacco incidents. Obviously the Coens brothers made some kind of product placement deal for Miller & Miller Lite beer products to appear in the film. But my primary focus was on the pack of Marlboro Reds carried by Walter Sobchek (played by John Goodman) during a couple of scenes. While watching the film, viewers can easily recognize the white box with the red design. The character of Walter actually handles of several product appearances: in several scenes he can be seen holding a pack of Marlboros, a Zippo lighter, and a cup of Miller beer.

Making jokes of someone in an iron lung? Everyone knew the Coen brothers had kind of a sick sense of humor. Another sick theme/arc/plotline/whathaveyou is the story of young Donny. You remember young Donny; always being told to “shut the fuck up!” by Walter… That poor kid could just never get a word in. The most fascinating part is how, Young Donny, who appears happy and healthy throughout the entire film and never once touches a cigarette or a beer, ends up dying suddenly from a heart attack. The kid drank soda, for pete’s sake. Donny, the one healthy kid who exercises and doesn’t smoke or drink dies suddenly of heart failure! Oh well… I guess he should have smoked cigarettes then maybe he could have lived a long fruitful life like the man in the iron lung. What the fuck kind of influence does all this have on children?

The science behind the three primary characters:
Young Donny = the child
Walter = the everyman
Dude = the enlightened

More insights coming soon…