Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start dying. Enter Police Chief Marge, a coffee-drinking, parka-wearing - and extremely pregnant - investigator who'll stop at nothing to get her man. And if you think her small-time investigative skills will give the crooks a run for their ransom... you betcha!
William H. Macy
John Carroll Lynch
John S. Lyons
Thomas P. Wilkins
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Taglines: Small town. Big crime. Dead cold.
Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.
Jerry Lundegaard works as a sales manager at his father-in-law’s car dealership and suffers humiliation every day about his financial insolvency. His wife’s dad looks at him like a jerk, bathing in money, and the guy at this time is trying to pay off his debts. Unsuccessful attempts lead him to desperate actions. Jerry decides to fine-tune the abduction of his wife, for which dad is willing to pay any money. He hires two criminals who steal his wife for half the price of the ransom, and await further instructions.
Upon reflection, the main character wants to abandon this venture. He is going to give the go-ahead, but everything is not going according to plan. It turned out that one of the abductors is suffering from a mental disorder, and tired of the screams of the kidnapped victim, he kills her. Father-in-law, meanwhile, is collecting the declared amount, which, together with eighty thousand dollars, was equal to one million. The son-in-law cannot admit his deed, although it is not easy to do. A pregnant detective woman is taken to investigate what happened, with the goal of finding out the truth. She gradually finds answers to questions of interest. But how will the father, heartbroken, who wants to take revenge on everyone who is involved in the death of his beloved daughter, take the incriminating information?
Creators: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Star Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Harve Presnell, Peter Stormare
Producer (s): Ethan Coen
Cinematographer: Roger Deakins
Music: Carter Burwell
Production House: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, Working Title Films
Original network / Official Sites: Gramercy Pictures
Release Year: 5 April 1996 (USA)
Runtime: 98 min
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Country: USA, UK
Subtitles: English, Bengali
In 1987, Jerry Lundegaard, the sales manager at an Oldsmobile dealership in Minneapolis, is desperate for money. After floating a GMAC loan worth $320,000, which he collateralized with nonexistent vehicles, he is unable to pay it back. On the advice of a dealership mechanic (and paroled ex-convict), Shep Proudfoot, Jerry travels to Fargo, North Dakota, and hires two small-time criminals, Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud, to kidnap his wife, Jean, and extort a ransom from Wade Gustafson, her wealthy father, who owns the dealership. Jerry will give them a new car and half of the $80,000 ransom.
Jerry pitches Wade a lucrative real estate deal and, believing Wade has agreed to front him $750,000, tries to call off the kidnapping, unsuccessfully. But Wade intends to make the deal himself, leaving Jerry with a paltry finder’s fee.
Carl and Gaear kidnap Jean and transport her to their remote cabin on Moose Lake. En route, a state trooper stops them near Brainerd for driving without temporary tags. When the trooper rejects Carl’s clumsy bribe and hears Jean whimpering in the back, Gaear kills him, then chases down two witnesses and shoots them dead as well.
The following morning, pregnant Brainerd police chief Marge Gunderson discovers that the dead trooper was ticketing a car with dealer plates and that, later, two men driving a dealership vehicle checked into the nearby Blue Ox Motel with two call girls and placed a call to Proudfoot. After questioning the prostitutes, Marge drives to Wade’s dealership, where Proudfoot feigns ignorance and Jerry insists that no cars are missing. While in Minneapolis, Marge reconnects with Mike Yanagita, an old classmate, who awkwardly tries to romance Marge before breaking down, saying that his wife has died. Marge learns the following morning that Yanagita was lying due to his mental instability.
Jerry tells Wade that the kidnappers have demanded $1 million and will deal only through him. Meanwhile, Carl, in light of the complication of the three murders, demands that Jerry hand over the “entire” $80,000. GMAC is also pressuring Jerry to either repay the loan or prove the existence of the nonexistent vehicles.
While Carl is having sex with another call girl in a motel room, Proudfoot enters and attacks him in a rage for bringing him under suspicion. Carl orders Jerry to deliver the ransom immediately, but Wade insists on making the money drop himself. At the drop location in a Minneapolis parking garage, Wade says he will not hand over the money without seeing Jean. Enraged, Carl pulls out a gun and shoots Wade. Wade fires back, severely wounding Carl in the jaw; Carl shoots Wade to death.
After fleeing the scene, Carl is astounded to discover that the briefcase contains $1 million. He removes $80,000 to split with Gaear, then buries the rest alongside the highway. At the cabin, Gaear has killed Jean just to quiet her; Carl says that they must split up and leave immediately. They get into a heated argument over who will keep the car. After Carl shouts insults at Gaear and moves to take the car, using his injury as justification, Gaear kills Carl with an ax.
Reflecting on Yanagita’s convincing lies, Marge returns to Gustafson’s dealership. Jerry suspiciously insists no cars are missing and hurriedly exits saying he will check the inventory. As Marge waits in his office she sees Jerry driving away instead. The next morning, Marge drives to Moose Lake on a tip from a local bartender who had reported a “funny-looking guy” bragging about killing someone. Outside a cabin, she finds the car; nearby, Gaear is feeding Carl’s dismembered body into a wood chipper. Gaear attempts to flee on foot, only for Marge to shoot him in the leg and arrest him. Soon, North Dakota police arrest Jerry at a Bismarck motel.
Marge’s husband Norm, whose mallard painting has been selected for a three-cent postage stamp, complains that his friend’s painting will be on the first-class stamp. Marge reassures Norm that many people use three-cent stamps whenever the price of postage increases and they need to make up the difference; they happily anticipate the birth of their child in two months.