Barton Fink script
Barton Fink (1991)
Synopsis: Set in 1941, an intellectual New York playwright Barton Fink (John Turturro) accepts an offer to write movie scripts in L.A. He finds himself with writer's block when required to do a B-movie script. His neighbor tries to help, but he continues to struggle as a bizarre sequence of events distracts him.



He is a bespectacled man in his thirties, hale but somewhat bookish. He

stands, tuxedoed, in the wings of a theater, looking out at the stage,

listening intently to end of a performance.

In the shadows behind him an old stagehand leans against a flat,

expressionlessly smoking a cigarette, one hand on a thick rope that hangs

from the ceiling.

The voices of the performing actors echo in from the offscreen stage:


I'm blowin' out of here, blowin' for good.

I'm kissin' it all goodbye, these four stinkin'

walls, the six flights up, the el that roars

by at three A.M. like a cast-iron wind. Kiss

'em goodbye for me, Maury! I'll miss 'em -

like hell I will!


Dreaming again!


Not this time, Lil! I'm awake now, awake

for the first time in years. Uncle Dave said

Daylight is a dream if you've lived with

your eyes closed. Well my eyes are open now!

I see that choir, and I know they're dressed

in rags! But we're part of that choir, both of

us - yeah, 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



So long, Maury.


So long.

We hear a door open and close, then approaching footsteps. A tall, dark

sctor in a used tweed suit and carrying a beat-up valise passes in front of


From offscreen stage:


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


The actor sets the valise down and then stands waiting int he shadows behind


An older man in work clothes - not wardrobe - passes in front of Barton from

the other direction, pauses at the edge of the stage and cups his hands to

his mouth.



As the man walks back off the screen:


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

late, Maury.


Not any more Lil...

Barton mouths the last line in sync with the offscreen actor:

...It's early.

With this the stagehand behind Barton furiously pulls the rope hand-over-

hand and we hear thunderous applause and shouts of "Bravo!"

As the stagehand finishes bringing the curtain down, somewhat muting the

applause, the backstage actor trots out of frame toward the stage.

The stagehand pulls on an adjacent rope, bringing the curtain back up and

unmuting the applause.

Barton Fink seems dazed. He has been joined by two other men, both dressed

in tuxedos, both beaming toward the stage.


Looking across a tenement set at the backs of the cast as the curtain rises

on the enthusiastic house. The actors take their bows and the cry of

"Author, Author" goes up from the crowd.

The actors turn to smile at Barton in the wings.


He hesitates, unable to take it all in.

He is gently nudged toward the stage by the two tuxedoed gentlemen.

As he exits toward the stage the applause is deafening.


Pushing a maitre 'd who looks back over his shoulder as he leads the way

through the restaurant.


Your table is ready, Monsieur Fink...several members

of your party have already arrived...


Pulling Barton


Is Garland Stanford here?


He called to say he'd be a few minutes late...

Ah, here we are...


Toward a large semi-circular booth. Three guests, two me and a woman in

evening wear, are rising and beaming at Barton. A fat middle-aged man, one

of the tuxedoed gentlemen we saw backstage, is moving out to let Barton

slide in.

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Joel Coen

Joel Coen was born on November 29, 1954 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA as Joel Daniel Coen. He is a producer and writer, known for No Country for Old Men (2007), The Big Lebowski (1998) and Fargo (1996). He has been married to Frances McDormand since April 1, 1984. They have one child. more…

All Joel Coen scripts | Joel Coen Books

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