O Brother, Where Art Thou? transports Homer's Odyssey to 1937 Mississippi with an ear-candy score of bluegrass, gospel and country and a live-wire star turn from George Clooney as a vain escaped convict who wears a hairnet. It's no surprise that the Coen brothers — director Joel and producer Ethan co-wrote the script — devised this clever tease. One wag dubbed it Hi, Honey, I'm Homer! But the film is shot through with unexpected feeling. The inspiration comes from the 1941 Preston Sturges film landmark Sullivan's Travels, in which a comedy director (Joel McCrea) journeys through Depression-era America to research a serious movie he wants to call O Brother, Where Art Thou? Sullivan never makes that movie; he decides it's better to make people laugh. The joke is that the Coens, having made the film for him, decide the same thing. Clooney's motormouthed Ulysses Everett McGill, jailed for practicing law without a license, escapes from a chain gang with fellow cons Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and embarks on an odyssey to reunite with his wife, Penny (Holly Hunter). Homeric parallels include a one-eyed Bible salesman (John Goodman) who beats the boys up and three sirens who "love them up." The cons also find time to record a song, "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow," that becomes a hit. The film swings from farce to fright — a striking Ku Klux Klan rally in which the Grand Wizard sings "O Death" is both. It's a wild, whacked-out wonder. Coenheads rejoice!
O Brother Where Art Thou?
- O Brother Where Art Thou?
- Holly Hunter
- Directed by Joel Coen
From The Archives Issue 278: November 16, 1978
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Around the Web
SalonPrince's 5 Most Iconic Live Performances
VultureEvery American Idol Finalist, Ranked From Worst to Best
Cracked5 Famous Movies That Were Insane Parties Behind The Scenes
SpinThe Five Greatest Motörhead Albums
Guitar WorldThe 30 Most Badass Guitarists Of All Time
Salon7 Weird Things That Turn Women On
- A Final Visit With Prince: Rolling Stone's Lost Cover Story
- What Jon Snow's Return Means for 'Game of Thrones'
- Kit Harington Says 'Sorry' for 'Game of Thrones' Jon Snow Deception
- 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
- See Aretha Franklin Sing Prince's 'Purple Rain' at White House
- 10 Best Zingers from Obama's Final White House Correspondents Dinner
- Paul McCartney Meets Women Who Inspired Beatles' 'Blackbird'
- Watch Highlight Reel of Obama's Most Embarrassing Moments