The Man Who Wasn't There

The Man Who Wasn't There

The Man Who Wasn't There is a 2001 American neo-noir crime film written, directed, and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, Richard Jenkins, Scarlett Johansson, Jon Polito, Tony Shalhoub, and James Gandolfini. The film is set in 1949 and tells the story of Ed Crane, a withdrawn barber who leads an ordinary life in a small California town with his wife, who he suspects is having an affair with her boss. Crane's situation changes when a stranger comes to the barbershop and offers him the opportunity to join him as a partner in a promising new business, in exchange for an investment of ten thousand dollars. Drawn to the idea, Crane plans to blackmail his wife's lover for the money.


In 1949 Santa Rosa, California, Ed Crane is married to Doris, a bookkeeper with a drinking problem, and works in a barbershop that is owned by his brother-in-law, Frank. A customer named Creighton Tolliver tells Ed that he is a businessman looking for investors to invest $10,000 in a new technology called dry cleaning. Ed decides to collect money by anonymously blackmailing Doris's boss, "Big Dave" Brewster, whom he suspects is having an affair with her. Brewster embezzles money from his department store to pay the blackmail. However, Brewster soon pieces together the scheme and beats Tolliver to death after he implicates Ed. Brewster confronts Ed at the store and attempts to kill him, but Ed fatally stabs Brewster with a cigar knife in self-defense.