Why did Will H. Macy need the money in Fargo?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Scott_D, Jan 9, 2004.

  1. Scott_D

    Scott_D Stunt Coordinator

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    I just finished watching Fargo and it made me wonder why Lundergard (William H. Macy) needed the money. Was this ever discussed by the Coen brothers? Was it gambling related, something to do with taxes, I don't know?

    It just made me wonder.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    I thought it was mentioned in the film that it was gambling related.
     
  3. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I thought it had something to do with that GMAC guy who kept calling him. He defrauded the dealership in some way and needed the money to cover his ass, or was that just about the stolen car he gave to Steve Buscemi? I was never to clear on what the deal was there
     
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Yeah it was because he defrauded the dealership.

    But why he did the defrauding I don't think is ever explained (but I could be wrong, it's been a long time since I saw the movie).
     
  5. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    Right. I forgot about the defrauding. But I believe he used the money from defrauding on gambling, no? Or it was hinted at, at least.
     
  6. Crocker Jarmen

    Crocker Jarmen Auditioning

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    The GMAC guy kept calling about the car that Jerry had given to the kidnappers.

    I thought that he needed the money to buy the land for that parking lot deal. Once his father-in-law hints that he may be interested in loaning him the money for it, Jerry tries to track the kidnappers down since 'I don't need them to do this thing for me anymore'.
     
  7. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    I remember differently - William Macy's character wanted to start up a parking lot/discovered a parking lot deal and brought the info to his father-in-law in hopes of gaining favor by showing initiative.

    Instead, the father-in-law merely offers a finder's-fee. He doesn't trust Jerry to get the business up and running...thinks of Jerry as a loser son-in-law.

    Although we could all be chasing tail...which came first, I don't recall. Was Jerry serious about the parking lot deal to gain respect from his father-in-law? Or was it all a disguise to get the money which would extricate him from financial ruin?
     
  8. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    I think that every instance of Jerry trying to get money was a ruse. He was going to take the money, from whichever source and use it to pay off his debt or to go deeper into it. What that debt was was never revealed.

    Bruce
     
  9. Scott_D

    Scott_D Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah I took it that he defrauded the GMAC guy with several cars. The GMAC loaned him $320,000 and Jerry had to use the cars as collateral. Thats why he kept on ringing Jerry up regarding the cars serial numbers to make sure the cars actually existed.

    However, Jerry obviously needed more money so he took the parking lot deal to his father in law, who refused to loan him the money.

    Whenever the subject of the debt came up in the movie, it appeared to be of a personal nature. So my initial guess was gambling.
     
  10. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    I'ts been a while since I saw the film (should watch it again), but I always thought it was because he needed the money for the parking lot deal.

    I thought the thing with the GMAC was that this was the car he had given to the kidnappers, and he had to obscure the serial numbers because he no longer had it on the lot. So there was defrauding there, but it was a consequence of the plot to get the moeny, not the reason for the plot.

    But it's been a while, so I could be completely wrong.
     
  11. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    Lundegard had been defrauding GMAC by getting loan money from GMAC for cars that had never been sold to customers who didn't exist. GMAC, like any business, required proof that the cars existed, which is why Jerry faxed the guy documents with serial numbers that were illegible.

    Jerry also needed a loan from his father-in-law for the parkng lot deal, I assume so he could make enough money to get himself out of the bottomless pit of debt he'd gotten himself into.

    So what was Jerry doing with all that money he was losing? You could assume a gambling addiction, or maybe he was trying to buy what was in the brief case in "Pulp Fiction."

    In other words, it ultimately doesn't matter to the plot.
     
  12. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins Supporting Actor

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    I don't think the issue was ever revealed. It's just one of those story triggers that you don't need to know. The cause is immaterial, it's there to service the plot.
     
  13. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    Exactly!! It's a Maguffin, as Hitchcock called it.

    I always thought the only reason that he was lying to the GMAC guy was to buy time until the money came through, at which time he would pay off the stolen car.
     
  14. RyanPC

    RyanPC Stunt Coordinator

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    I love this movie and I definitely agree with David Wilkins. They never really went into why he needed the money, at least I don't think, but I believe it was because he was defrauding the dealership.
     
  15. Iver

    Iver Second Unit

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    There's a John Frankenheimer movie loosely based on the Cuban Missile Crisis called Seven Days in May. It was released on DVD last Summer in glorious widescreen black and white with a genuine Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack (the film itself is from the mid 1960's).

    In one scene, you hear a PA system in the background paging "General Reilly, General Diefenbach...."

    And what's the name of the GMAC guy who maintains the constant telephone torture of Jerry?

    Were the Coens huge Frankenheimer fanatics?
     
  16. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Ken is on it, though I think that Jerry's explicit plan with the parking lot deal was to either:

    A) shift that money to cover his GMAC debt

    B) actually do a good deal that would result in him making a lot of money that would help cover his GMAC debt


    It's not so clear if he plans to use the money from the kidnapping to do the deal or just apply directly to his GMAC debts in some manner (I guess he would return the cash on all those loans and try to play it like a bookkeeping error). I doubt he could do the parking lot deal with the kidnapping money since the father-in-law would pick up on his sudden investiment.


    And in this case I don't think it really is just a McGuffin because the film is also a character study which is why Macy stood out so much in the film, as did Frances McDormand. Think about some of her scenes and how much they don't apply directly to the plot. What we are seeing with both of them is what makes them tick and how they react to life.

    So understanding that Macy was a scheming enough to work that GMAC deal is important to understanding him. And understanding how he got into that financial hole in the first place when he had a decent life going for himself is also important. Part of that comes through when we see how the father-in-law works against him and apparently resents him as a son-in-law.


    Now, has anyone established if a gambling debt was ever mentioned?

    I always suspected that Macy was in debt instead for trying to work his own deals and that maybe he had done the GMAC thing in an attempt to swing a deal that would allow him to pay the money back and move him into competition with the father in a biz-power sense, not literally. Maybe the investiment fell through or maybe it wasn't enough money and he is looking for the rest from the father-in-law.

    But I don't think he was an actual gambler, just a figurative one in the biz world trying to match his father-in-law's biz success and gain independent control over his family away from the F-i-L which he clearly is not enjoying at this point in his life.
     
  17. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I don't believe the movie is based on the Cuban Missle Crisis at all. It's about an a military plot to overthrow the federal government. The book, same name as the movie, I believe, was written in the 50's I think.

    I went to Amazon and couldn't find a copyright date for the book, but I think its in the late 50's for the book.
     
  18. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    he needed it so he could get some truecoat for his car


    darn tootin'
     
  19. Iver

    Iver Second Unit

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    That's what I got out of it. Jerry is desperate to break out on his own and establish himself outside of his father in law's dominance.

    The movie makes plain the degree to which Jerry is belittled. Like when the wife asks if the dad is going to stay for dinner. As if it depends on the dad's whim and not whether or not Jerry wants to have a dinner guest that evening. And then the way Jerry asks the dad who's playing in the TV sports event and Harve Presnell just grunts at him.

    And when Jerry gets turned down on the loan, and he's in the parking lot beating the windshield with the snow scraper, that's not the tantrum of a gambler, that's deep existential despair, Minnesota style.

    *****


    So nobody else remembers the name of the GMAC guy?

    "Mr. Lundegaard, this is Xxxxx Xxxxxx from GMAC......"
     
  20. Guest

    I don't think Jerry needs the money just to compete with his father in law, he really needs the cash for some reason, I'm assuming gambling debts. When his fater in law offers him the finders fee, Jerry almost slips, and he says "What's that ten, fifteen percent?", "I need more than that, I need the principal." It seems clear to me he NEEDS this cash, he just doesn't want it to keep up with his fater in law. If he had gotten the money from his father in law, the $750k, and wasn't able to pay it back, what good would it do for him to look like he was rich, his fater in law would have known where he got the money, so that would make no sense. He is in desperate need of cash, for some reason, and that is why he is trying every route to get it.
     

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