The Dude turns 20: looking back at the best quotes from The Big Lebowski

This week marks the 20th anniversary of The Big Lebowski. It’s a comedy cult classic and a beloved film from the Coen Brothers, but above all else, Lebowski has sticking power because of its quotability. I find myself referencing it routinely, despite not having previously seen it in years. To mark this anniversary, I joined my friend and podcast host James Kay in a discussion of our favorite quotes from the movie, and why we love them so much. Below is an excerpt of that conversation; you can find the Soundcloud link below for the full conversation.

James Kay: Today, we’re going to be breaking down our favorite quotes from the 1998 comedy classic The Big Lebowski. So Jake, is there anything you’re doing for the anniversary of The Big Lebowski?

Jake Skubish: I guess in honor of the Dude, I’m probably going to spend the day doing nothing.

JK: I think he would abide by that. So what’s one of the quotes you would put toward the top?

JS: So one quote that I wanted to talk about when rewatching this movie comes from Maude Lebowski, who is played by Julianne Moore. And she says: “It’s a male myth about feminists that we hate sex. It can be a natural, zesty experience.”

It might not be one of my absolute favorite quotes in the movie, but I just wanted to give love to Julianne Moore. She was really funny in this movie, and I especially like the word ‘zesty’ here. She plays a strange character who is very openly feminist, and not really anything close to the world the Dude knows, and their contrast on screen is pretty interesting.

JK: Totally. When I saw that scene rewatching this movie a couple days ago, I feel like Britta from Community, she would see that scene, and that’s the person she wants to be but doesn’t quite really get.

JS: Yeah, definitely. It’s like a much classier version of Britta.

JK: An authentic version of Britta, for sure. What else about that scene do you enjoy? I’m pretty sure that’s the introduction to Maude.

JS: That is, and I think the first time we see her she comes flying in naked, using herself as a prop to work on a painting, which kind of gets at the entirety of her character. She’s artsy, but not in any way that would hide it. She wants you to know just how pretentious she is.

JK: I love how she clashes into the scene. She goes in swinging naked, but when she comes out of it she’s so calm and collected, it’s just so intimidating. And that probably would intimidate a normal person, but the Dude just doesn’t give a shit about anything. He’s a little fazed by it, but he’s The Dude, so anything he does, he’s not really going to be fazed.

JS: So what’s your first quote?

JK: One of my favorites that I didn’t really realize was one of my favorite quotes until I rewatched this recently was from John Goodman’s character, who plays Walter. He says: “This isn’t ‘Nam, Smokey. There are rules.” I know that’s really simplistic, very laconic humor from Goodman, but I think what I love about that quote especially is that that’s our introduction to Walter. And the first few minutes we’re with Walter, he seems like a normal guy. I feel like Walter’s aggression ramps up throughout the movie, and he has a harder time concealing it.

And so I just think it’s hilarious seeing this guy who is steadfast in his convictions just calmly saying “This isn’t ‘Nam Smokey. There are rules.” And then that would lead to him showing us who he really is with his anger problem.

JS: Yeah, when we were talking about sharing quotes for this movie, and I went back and rewatched it, I was thinking about just how many of the top quotes were really more from Walter than from the Dude. He just has these long, extended outbursts; he’s always incredibly confident about what he’s saying even though he has absolutely no idea where it’s coming from.

Check out the rest of our conversation in the Soundcloud link below:

Jacob SkubishComment