Fargo – The Movie
Fargo: The 1996 Film

Fargo! Get ready to be on the edge of your seat this entire movie. Through every twist and turn of the plot, unanticipated things keep going wrong, but it’s unclear who they’re going wrong for. A kidnap plot, murders, and one desperate husband will all play a role in your life while you watch this classic film.

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Plot Summary

On a snowy January night in Fargo, North Dakota, Jerry, an agitated car salesman meets up with two men who he is trying to hire to kidnap his wife. The men, Carl and Gaear, seem to be career criminals and they quickly agree to Jerry’s plan. They’ll kidnap his wife and demand $80,000 in ransom, which Jerry’s wealthy father-in-law will pay, then Jerry and the two men will split the ransom money evenly.

Video: Fargo Opening Scene

During the meeting at the diner, Jerry is elusive as to why he needs the money, but when he returns home to his life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, it slowly becomes clearer. Upon his arrival at home for dinner, Jerry sees his father-in-law, Wade, sitting in the living room with Jerry’s wife, Jean, and his son, Scotty. When Scotty leaves to go see his friends, Wade and Jerry begin arguing about Jerry’s parenting style, with Wade criticizing Jerry for not being hard enough on Scotty.

A Sweet Deal

In a desperate attempt to change the conversation, Jerry brings up a $750,000 deal that he wants Wade to get in on. Wade brushes it off, mentioning that he’ll have to talk to his business partner, and Jerry ends the evening frustrated. At work the next day, where Jerry works on a car lot owned by Wade, Jerry gets a call from a bank loan company that is demanding more information about a $320,000 insurance loan filed by Jerry. After skirting the questions, they make it clear that if the necessary information isn’t received, they will recall the loan and demand the money.

At Jerry’s home, his wife, Jean is watching morning TV when the two men, Carl and Gaear, forcefully enter the home and kidnap her. Jean puts up a fight but is unsuccessful, and soon, she is sitting in the back seat of their car, whimpering.

Not long into their drive, the kidnappers get pulled over for lacking vehicle registration tags. When the officer approaches, after an unsuccessful bribe, Gaear reaches over and shoots the trooper, killing in instantly. As they start to flee the scene, they see another car pass, making eye contact with the people in that car, who clearly saw everything happen. They end up chasing the car down and killing the two witnesses as well.

Fargo Hoodie Hoody
Enter Marge

News of the murders reach Chief Marge Gunderson, portrayed by Frances McDormand, via a phone call late at night. Marge is not only pregnant but she is also dealing with the very harsh, cold climate of North Dakota. Off she goes to investigate the crime scene with her somewhat dim-witted underling Officer Lou.

Patriotic T-shirt for Sale
The Cabin

Now, with multiple murders on their hands, Carl and Gaear decide to hide in a cabin by the lake. Jerry tells his father-in-law Wade that the kidnappers called and demanded $1 million, saying they would only meet with them. At this point, the police are investigating the string of murders, and time is closing in on everyone involved.

Fargo Jerry Shirt

Wade demands he take the ransom to the kidnappers, despite Jerry’s wishes. When he arrives, Wade asks to see his daughter, refusing to give the money before knowing she is okay. Not taking kindly to that answer, Carl shoots Wade and kills him, driving off with the money. Once he realizes it is more than he thought, he hides everything besides the $80,000 and goes back to the cabin to find Jean face-down on the floor.

Fargo gif Marge

The two kidnappers get in a fight over splitting the money and Gaear kills Carl. As he is dumping his body into a wood-chipper, the Chief Marge pulls up at the cabin and shots Gaear in the leg before arresting him. Just two days later, Jerry is apprehended by police in a motel, kicking and screaming like a little girl as he is taken into custody

FARGO Movie Cast:

Frances McDormand – Marge Gunderson
John Carroll Lynch – Norm Gunderson
William H. Macy – Jerry Lundegaard
Steve Buscemi – Carl Showalter
Peter Stormare – Gaear Grimsrud
Kristin Rudrüd – Jean Lundegaard
Harve Presnell – Wade Gustafson
Tony Denman – Scotty Lundegaard
Gary Houston – Angry Car Customer
Sally Wingert – Angry Car Customer’s Wife
Kurt Schweickhardt – Car Salesman
Larissa Kokernot – Prostitute
Melissa Peterman – Prostitute
Steve Reevis – Shep Proudfoot
Warren Keith – Reilly Diefenbach
Steve Edelman – Morning Show Host
Sharon Anderson – Morning Show Hostess
Larry Brandenburg – Stan Grossman
James Gaulke – State Trooper
J. Todd Anderson – Victim in the Field
Michelle Suzanne LeDoux – Victim in Car
Bruce Bohne – Lou the cop
Petra Boden – Cashier
Steve Park – Mike Yanagita
Wayne A. Evenson – Customer
Cliff Rakerd – Officer Olson
Jessica Shepherd – Hotel Clerk
Peter Schmitz – Airport Lot Attendant
Steven I. Schafer – Mechanic (as Steve Schaefer)
Michelle Hutchison – Escort
David S. Lomax – Man in Hallway
José Feliciano – as himself
Bix Skahill – Night Parking Attendant (as Don William Skahill)
Bain Boehlke – Mr. Mohra
Rose Stockton – Valerie (voice)
Robert Ozasky – Bismarck Cop
John Bandemer – Bismarck Cop
Don Wescott – Bark Beetle Narrator (voice)

Fargo Marge Hoodie Sweatshirt Sweater
Fun Facts
  • Although the name of the movie is “Fargo,” the actual North Dakota city is only in the plot briefly, where the initial diner meeting takes place.
  • None of the movie was was physically filmed in Fargo, ND.
  • A hit in the US and overseas, Fargo brought in over $60.6 million, while only working with a $7 million budget!
  • The actors in Fargo used a book entitled “How to Talk Minnesotan” to get the accent right
  • Steve Buscemi’s character Carl Showalter was specifically written for him. Producers felt he was perfect for the part
  • There was very little ad-libbing in this film.The Coen Brothers are notorious for staying true to the written script. If an ad lib is allowed, it better be a pretty “dern tuttin’” good idea!
  • The scene where Jerry is trying to screw the customers at his father’s car dealership was an exact account of a true event that happened to producer Ethan Coen
  • Most of the scenes take place in Brainerd, Minnesota but the Coen Brothers decided to call the film FARGO because it sounded better. They were right!
  • Frances McDormand won an Oscar for her performance as Police Chief Marge Gunderson. She also won the Academy Award two more times with her roles in the films Nomadland and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Producers Joel and Ethan Cohen received a lot of heat over stating that the film is based on a true story. That statement is completely false
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3 responses to “Fargo – The Movie”

  1. […] It started out when Forrest was a child, on his first day of school, he meets Jenny. A little girl who shows him kindness when all the rest of his classmates were making fun of him for his leg braces. Forrest’s childhood isn’t kind to him; he’s constantly getting made fun of and treated poorly because he’s a bit slower than those around him and is mentally disabled. […]

  2. […] The movie was a box office success, earning $19 million over its original run. It went on to become a holiday classic, ranked number […]

  3. Dennis Wayne Smith Avatar
    Dennis Wayne Smith

    Fargo is one of my all-time favorite movies.Everyone in the movie should have received an oscar.

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