Capricorn One

  • Directors: Peter Hyams
  • Producers: Paul N Lazarus III
  • Writers: Peter Hyams
  • Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Brenda Vaccaro, Sam Waterston, O J Simpson, Hal Holbrook, Karen Black, Telly Savalas, David Huddleston, David Doyle, James Karen

The setting is the late 1970s, and the first manned mission to Mars is on the launch pad. NASA authorities including Dr. James Kelloway (Hal Holbrook) realize that a faulty life support system has doomed any chance of a successful flight, so for political and financial purposes they decide to fake the landing rather than cancel the mission.

Minutes before launch, the bewildered crew of Col. Brubaker (James Brolin), Lt. Col. Willis (Sam Waterston), and Cmdr. Walker (O. J. Simpson) are removed from the capsule and flown to an old abandoned United States Army Air Corps base deep within the desert. The televised launch proceeds on schedule, but the public is unaware that the spacecraft (Capricorn One) does not have a crew.

At the remote base, the astronauts are informed they will fake the television footage from Mars and it is their patriotic duty to participate. Initially they refuse, but authorities imply their careers and the lives of their families are at stake if they do not cooperate.

The astronauts remain in captivity for a period of several months and are filmed landing on Mars within a studio located at the base. The conspiracy is known to only a select few NASA officials, until alert technician Elliot Whittier (Robert Walden) stumbles across a bizarre technical anomaly i.e. television transmissions from Mars made by the crew are being received by ground control before the spacecraft telemetry arrives. He is confused by the anomaly and wishes to investigate further, but is told not to worry about it by his employer. Even so, Whittier feels sufficiently uneasy to share his concerns with journalist friend Robert Caulfield (Elliott Gould) at a local bar, but before Whittier can fully set out his concerns, he mysteriously disappears.

The film ends with Caulfield bringing Brubaker to the astronauts’ memorial service, exposing the conspiracy in dramatic fashion in front of dozens of witnesses and live national television.

The Big Lebowski

  • Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • Producers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Genres: Comedy, Crime
  • Actors: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, David Huddleston, Philip Seymour Hoffman

The film begins with a short voiceover introduction by an unnamed narrator (by Sam Elliott) introducing the character of Jeffrey Lebowski as he is buying half and half from a grocery store in 1991. The voiceover explains that Lebowski calls himself “the Dude”.

After returning to his apartment in Venice, California, two thugs break in and rough up The Dude. They are attempting to collect a debt Lebowski’s supposed wife owes to a man named Jackie Treehorn. After realizing they were looking for a different person with the same name, they leave, but only after one of the thugs urinates on the Dude’s rug. At the instigation of his friend and bowling teammate Walter Sobchak (Goodman), the Dude decides to seek compensation for his urine-soaked rug from the other Jeffrey Lebowski. The next day, the titular “Big” Lebowski, a wheelchair-bound millionaire, gruffly refuses the Dude’s request. After craftily stealing one of the Big Lebowski’s rugs, the Dude meets Bunny Lebowski, the Big Lebowski’s nymphomaniacal trophy wife on his way off the property.

Days later, the Big Lebowski contacts the Dude, revealing that Bunny has been kidnapped. He asks him to act as a courier for the million-dollar ransom because the Dude will be able to confirm or deny their suspicion that the kidnappers are the rug-soiling thugs. Back at his apartment, the Dude naps on his new, stolen rug, only to have a new set of criminals burgle his apartment. The criminals knock him unconscious. Following a musical dream sequence, the Dude wakes up on his bare wooden floor, his new rug missing. Soon after, when Bunny’s kidnappers call to arrange the ransom exchange, Walter tries to convince the Dude to keep the money and give the kidnappers a “ringer” suitcase filled with dirty underwear. The Dude rejects this plan, but cannot stop Walter. The kidnappers escape with the ringer, and the Dude and Walter are left with the million-dollar ransom. Walter seems unperturbed by this turn of events, and takes the Dude bowling. Later that night, the Dude’s car is stolen, along with the briefcase filled with money. The Dude receives a message from the Big Lebowski’s daughter, Maude. She admits to stealing back the Dude’s new, stolen rug, as it had sentimental value to her. At her art studio, she explains that Bunny is a porn starlet working under producer Jackie Treehorn and confirms the Dude’s suspicion that Bunny probably kidnapped herself. She asks the Dude to recover the ransom, as it was illegally withdrawn by her father from a family-run charitable foundation for orphans. She offers him a finder’s fee in exchange for his services.

After a disagreement with the funeral home director over the cost of an urn for Donny, Walter and the Dude go to a cliff overlooking a beach to scatter Donny’s ashes from a large Folgers coffee can. Before opening the can’s lid and haphazardly shaking out Donny’s remains into the wind, Walter remembers what little he knew about Donnie, including that he loved to surf and bowl, then quotes a line from Hamlet: “Goodnight, sweet prince.” After an emotional exchange, Walter suggests, “Fuck it, man. Let’s go bowling.” The movie ends with the Dude in the bowling alley and meeting the narrator at the bar. The narrator tells the Dude to take it easy and the Dude responds by stating, “the Dude abides”. The narrator briefly comments on the film to the audience, saying that although he “didn’t like to see Donny go”, he hints that there’s a “little Lebowski on the way.” The film transitions to the closing credits as Townes Van Zandt’s version of “Dead Flowers” plays.