Ranking, analyzing & celebrating the 106 greatest crime films of all-time. Catch up on the series and find new installments daily here.
No Country for Old Men (2007)
TYPE OF FILM: Crime/Noir
STUDIO: Miramax Films & Paramount Vantage
PRODUCERS: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
DIRECTORS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
SCREENWRITERS: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
SOURCE: No Country for Old Men, novel by Cormac McCarthy
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
Tommy Lee Jones … Ed Tom Bell
Javier Bardem … Anton Chigurh
Josh Brolin … Llewelyn Moss
Woody Harrelson … Carson Wells
Kelly Macdonald … Carla Jean Moss
DID YOU KNOW?
The Coen brothers claimed that No Country for Old Men was their first adaptation and Joel Coen explained their choice by saying: “Why not start with Cormac? Why not start with the best?” Although moving from one medium to another inevitably required some simplification and elimination of interior dialogue, they remained entirely faithful to the plot structure and tone of the novel. Describing their writing process for the project, Ethan Coen said, “One of us types into the computer while the other holds the spine of the book open flat.” However, No Country for Old Men is emphatically not their first adaptation. One of their lesser-known but best films was Miller’s Crossing, which borrowed extensively (thought not credited or acknowledged) from two of Dashiell Hammett’s novels, Red Harvest and The Glass Key.
While hunting in Texas, Vietnam vet Llewelyn Moss comes across what is clearly a drug deal gone wrong. Dead bodies are sprawled on the ground, a wounded man is begging for water, and a briefcase containing two million dollars is left unattended. Moss takes the money home, sends his wife to a safe place, and returns with water. He is chased by two men in a truck but escapes to a motel, where he hides the money. The vicious psychopath Anton Chigurh is hired to retrieve the money and, deciding he’d like the money for himself, kills the men who hired him. A tracking device in the briefcase leads him to Moss’s motel where a gang of Mexicans are waiting to ambush him. Chigurh kills them all. Moss manages to escape and checks into another motel. He discovers the tracking device, but the hit man has already found him.
In a rare case of a studio trying to hide profits, Paramount was sued in September 2008 by the star Tommy Lee Jones, who claimed he was owed bonuses because profit shares were skewed by improper expense deductions. Nearly two years later, the matter was resolved with the company forced to pay Jones a $17.5 million bonus because of the success the film enjoyed at the box office. It was determined that his deal had been poorly drafted by studio attorneys, who in turned were forced to pay Paramount $2.6 million for their mishandling of the contract.
By the man who hires Carson Wells: (about Chigurh): Just how dangerous is he? Wells: Compared to what? The bubonic plague?