There are many things fans love about Coen Brothers movies, and one of those is the dialogue. So which are the best one-liners from the duo’s work?
Split image showing Chad from Burn after reading and Chigurh from No Country For Old Men
For close to 40 years, the Coen Brothers have released at least one critically acclaimed movie every three years or so. After Joel Coen made the Tragedy of Macbeth alone in 2021, there were rumors that the brothers were done working as a duo. However, fans have reason to be hopeful after Ethan confirmed during the Cannes Film Festival reunion might still happen, according to the Associated Press.
A reunion would be a good thing since the brothers have served fans many incredible tales. One element that stands out in movies by the duo is their dialogue. Coen Brothers characters are known for making hilarious, intelligent, creative and quirky remarks.
“Yeah, Well, That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man.”
The Dude – The Big Lebowski (1998)
During a bowling game, Jesus suggests that The Dude got to the semis by sheer luck. The Dude opts not to argue about it, so he continues with the game.
The remark fits with The Dude’s easy-going nature. He likes relaxing and also sees confrontations as a chore. He, therefore, doesn’t make an effort to argue. How he frames his words is also stereotypical, reflecting the general speech mannerisms of the all-play-and-no-work “dudes” in movies.
“What’s The Most You’ve Ever Lost On A Coin Toss?”
Anton Chigurh – No Country For Old Men (2007)
Intending to murder a gas station attendant, Chigurh asks him this question first. He plans to give him both the chance to live and to die, depending on where the coin lands.
The most brutal movies villains know how to instill fear and that’s what Chigurh does by using this line. Not only does the line make the attendant realize Chigurh is a weird person, but it also confirms to him that he intends to do something malicious. For Chigurh, it makes him look badass. Deciding the fate of victims using coin tosses is something that has been done before, notably by the DC character Two-Face, but Chigurh does it more convincingly.
“Mama Says He’s Bona Fide.”
Everett’s Daughter – O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
When Everett runs into his family after escaping from prison, he realizes his wife has moved on. His daughter then tells him what their mother thinks of the new man.
Everett is depicted as a loser throughout the movie and his daughter’s remark serves as an affirmation of that. Going to prison was bad enough already but the fact that Everett makes a questionable decision by escaping two weeks before his release confirms that he is far from bona fide. As expected, the remark hurts him and drives him to fight the new man.
“You Know, For Kids.”
Norville – The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Hudsucker Proxy Business school graduate Norville Barnes tries to pitch a few ideas to investors. One of them is the hula poop, meant to help children with constipation. However, he has a hard time explaining himself, so he simply draws an image and states what the device is for.
Norville’s lack of self-confidence in the scene is an essential part of his arc as it prepares audiences for what’s to come later on. In the presentation, he appears unfit for corporate tasks but within a short period, he gets appointed the new CEO of Hudsucker Industries as part of the board’s plan to depress the stock price. What follows is the struggle.
“We Didn’t Escape. We Released Ourselves On Our Own Recognizance.”
Gale – Raising Arizona (1987)
Former convict, Hi, is surprised to find his old cellmates Gale and Evelle Snoats at his home one day. When he asks them if they escaped, Gale gives a rather hilarious response.
The quote sums up Gale and Evelle’s do-what-we-want attitude. Since their old friend was out, they figured it was time to get out too without having to wait for the system to dictate that for them. Gale’s aggressiveness is also reflected in the manner in which he shows up unannounced at Hi’s home and convinces him to participate in robberies.
“I Thought You Might Be Worried About The Security Of Your S—.”
Chad – Burn After Reading (2008)
After chancing upon a disc containing a former CIA analyst’s memoir, gym instructor, Chad, assumes it’s full of classified files and decides to blackmail him. And while at it, he tries to act as tough as possible.
By trying to blackmail a former CIA analyst, Chad punches above his weight. He assumes the retrenched Langley employee will do everything in his power to get the memoir back. Unfortunately for him, it backfires because the document isn’t that important and the ex-analyst is in no mood to negotiate.
“I Always Go Backward When I’m Backing Up.”
Rooster – True Grit (2010)
One of the best modern Westerns sees the US Marshall Rooster being put on a murder trial. Ad he comes up with a rather interesting way to defend himself while being grilled by the prosecutor.
Rooster sees the question from the prosecutor as a silly one because he had already testified that he was backing up before shooting the man, yet, the prosecutor still goes ahead to ask which direction he was going. To both audiences and those in attendance at the courtroom, it’s the perfect answer to a rather lame question.
“I Got Horse Sense, God Damn It. Showmanship!”
Jack Lipnik – Barton Fink (1991)
In one of the best movies about the making of movies, Hollywood executive Jack Lipnik tries to explain to scriptwriter Barton Fink why he is so successful despite not knowing the little details about scripts. He claims it’s all because of charisma and common sense.
It’s Jack’s simple way of telling Barton how to succeed in Hollywood. According to him, telnet means very little. So long as one has the energy required to go about the day-to-day activities, they will make it. The words also highlight Jack’s general pride. As someone who has risen to the highest of ranks, he believes he has the formula for all things Hollywood.
“The More You Look, The Less You Really Know.”
Freddy Riedenschneider – The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)
Sacramento defense attorney Freddy Riedenschneider is hired by a man named Ed who fatally stabbed his wife’s boss. And he puts up a really good argument about the disadvantage of looking too hard.
Though it’s good to quote that could be applied in real life, it points more to Freddy’s tendency to not put in the required effort for his clients. The lawyer values luxury more than the fate of his clients, evident from how he puts himself up in expensive villas after arriving in the town. Most importantly, he doesn’t win the case and as a result, Ed is sentenced to death.
“I Guess That Was Your Accomplice In The Wood Chipper.”
Marge – Fargo (1996)
It doesn’t take long for the police chief Marge Gunderson to figure out the crimes that Gaear Grimsrud committed. About the wood chipper, she makes an interesting observation too.
One of the best law enforcement officers in movies, Marge can piece things together very easily. She tends to adopt a calm approach too when dealing with criminals, hence the reason she casually talks to Gaear. Through her approach, she effortlessly makes him confess his crimes and why he did them