Personal Musings

Reading The Big Lebowski Screenplay

Walter Sobchak

That rug really tied the room together, did it not?

The Dude

F–kin’ A.


And this guy peed on it?

Walter Sobchak

Donny, please.

I read The Big Lebowski screenplay yesterday. I have it in book form. It was part of my Father’s Day gift. My wife and kids know me all too well. Screenplays are slept on in terms of reading material. If given the choice between a memoir, a novel, or a screenplay, I’ll pick the screenplay every time.

In having read the script, I may have to watch the movie again now. It’s been years since I last watched The Big Lebowski. Even if you live under a rock, you’ve probably still heard of the Dude, played by Jeff Bridges. While the Dude may be the iconic figure, for me, Walter steals the show.

Every time Walter Sobchak enters the picture, I can’t stop laughing. Sobchak, played by John Goodman, is a Vietnam Veteran, born Polish Catholic who converts to Judaism because of his then-wife Cynthia. Thing is, Cynthia is now his ex-wife and has been for five years.

I’m not sure which scene has me rolling with laughter more: when Donny informs Walter and the Dude their league bowling game will take place on Saturday, which is shabbos: the Jewish day of rest, or when the Dude later calls Walter on Saturday (shabbos) and asks for a ride because of an emergency and Walter informs the Dude he’s not allowed to answer the phone or drive a car on shabbos.

I couldn’t find the scene for the latter on YouTube, but here’s the bowling scene. What’s even funnier to me is how much I realized that my cousin Gary was starting to resemble Walter. Gary passed away a few years ago, but I had a momentary lapse as I streamed the scene last night to rib him by text. I already know what his response would have been, which would have mirrored the fictional Walter himself: “Shut the f—k up, Donny!”

If you’ve never read a film script or screenplay before, give it a whirl. I find it helps me grease my reading wheels when I’m struggling to hone my attention to read a novel or other full-length work. The Writers Guild Foundation has a resource page on finding scripts online. You can find the occasional book version like I have for sale on Amazon. I have another Coen Brothers masterpiece in my queue: Burn After Reading. Also a Father’s Day gift.