MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.
Fargo (1996, 98 minutes)
It’s the dead of winter at a crossroads near Fargo, N.D. Merle Haggard is playing on the jukebox at The King Of Clubs as a man in a floppy golf hat (William H. Macy) walks inside and immediately spots his contacts seated behind six Bud longnecks.
“I’m Jerry Lundegaard,” he says to the short man with the mustache, as though he were selling life insurance. “Shep Proudfoot said you’d be here at 7:30. We’ve been sitting here for an hour. He’s peed three times,” says the short man (Steve Buscemi), gesturing at his companion (Peter Stormare), a lanky tow-head, nodding off with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. “I’m Carl Showalter and this is my associate, Gaear Grimsrud. You got the car?” “Yeah, it’s out in the lot, a brand-new, burnt-umber Ciera.”
“What Shep told us didn’t make a lot of sense,” says Carl as Grimsrud begins to wake up. “You want your own wife kidnapped?” “It’s all worked-out,” explains Jerry. “It’s not me payin’ the ransom, see. Her dad’s real well-off. I need money.” The kidnappers and Jerry will split the $80,000 ransom right down the middle. Carl remains doubtful: “You’re tasking us to perform this mission, but you won’t tell us … Aw, fuck it, let’s take a look at that car.”
Jerry’s father-in-law, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell), informs Jerry next morning that his recent financial proposal might work, after all. Desperate to get in touch with the men he hired to put the alternate plan into operation, Jerry strides into the maintenance bay at the Minneapolis auto dealership where he works. “Howya doin’ there, Shep?” he asks a Native American mechanic tinkering with a car up on a hydraulic lift. “You know those two fellas you put me in touch with? I may not need them, after all. See, this deal I needed them for? Something’s happened. Thought you might know an alternate phone number.” “Nope,” says Shep.
Jerry’s wife Jean (Kristin Rudrud) is nestled in the family room watching a morning cooking show demonstrating how to make “holidazzle eggs.” A man in a black ski mask suddenly appears at the slider on the rear deck and shatters the glass with a crowbar.
At the same time, his partner walks right into the house through the unlocked front door and grabs the terrified woman. She bites him on the hand and runs to the upstairs bathroom. Obsessively searching for unguent to treat his wound, Grimsrud notices her in the medicine-cabinet’s mirror, trembling behind the shower curtain. He rips down the plastic and grabs her. She escapes but falls down the stairs like a bagful of old suitcases. The thugs load her unconscious body, wrapped in the shower curtain, into the Ciera’s trunk and take off for the South Dakota state line.