Twenty Bucks: Wikis

  

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Twenty Bucks
Directed by Keva Rosenfeld
Produced by Karen Murphy
Written by Leslie Bohem
Endre Bohem
Starring Linda Hunt
Brendan Fraser
Gladys Knight
Elisabeth Shue
Steve Buscemi
Christopher Lloyd
William H. Macy
David Schwimmer
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Spalding Gray
Music by David Robbins
Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki
Editing by Michael Ruscio
Distributed by Sony Pictures
Release date(s) October 22, 1993 (U.S. release)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Twenty Bucks is a 1993 film that follows the travels of a $20 bill from a crisp new note from the ATM in downtown Minneapolis through various transactions and incidents from person to person through the city.

Linda Hunt, Brendan Fraser, Gladys Knight, Elisabeth Shue, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Lloyd, William H. Macy, David Schwimmer, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Spalding Gray all made appearances.

Contents

Plot

As the opening credits roll, an armoured truck brings money to load an ATM. A woman withdraws $20 but fails to put it in her pocket properly, and the bill slips away. A homeless woman grabs the bill and reads the serial number, proclaiming that it is her destiny to win the lottery with the numbers on the bill. But children grab the bill from her and use it to buy sweets at a bakery. The chef sells a wedding cake to Jack Holiday (George Morfogen) for a few hundred dollars and gives him the bill as change. At a party for the upcoming wedding of Sam Mastrewski (Brendan Fraser) to Anna Holiday (Sam Jenkins), Jack reminisces about exchanging his foreign money for American currency when he first came to America, and he presents Sam with the $20 bill as a wedding present. Disappointed by the perceived cheapness of his father-in-law-to-be, Sam uses the bill to pay the stripper at his bachelor party. Ghada shows up at the party to explain that the $20 is not the entire present and to suggest that they should frame the bill to show that they understand its significance.

The stripper uses the $20 bill to buy a herbal remedy from Mrs. McCormac (Gladys Knight). Mrs. McCormac sends the bill to her grandson as a birthday present. The underage grandson goes to a convenience store and asks Jimmy (Christopher Lloyd) to buy him white wine. Jimmy goes into the store to find that his partner, Frank (Steve Buscemi), has botched the robbery. The homeless woman from the beginning of the film tries to buy a lottery ticket but walks away when she realizes the place is being robbed. Jimmy and Frank leave, giving the kid champagne instead of white wine. The police chase the robbers, who pull into a used car sales lot and blend in. After the police pass by, Jimmy and Frank split up the money, but when Frank sees the $20 Jimmy got from the kid, he assumes that Jimmy is holding out on him. Jimmy tries to explain but instead just shoots Frank and takes all the money they've stolen, but leaves the bill the kid gave him. The bill winds up in the police evidence locker but falls into the wrong box.

Waitress and aspiring writer Emily (Elisabeth Shue) shows up at the police precinct with boyfriend Neil (David Schwimmer) to claim some items the police recovered. The box he's given includes the $20 bill with Frank's blood. After flying out of the box in the backseat of Emily's convertible, the bill floats around town, is picked up by a homeless man who uses it to buy food at the very supermarket where the homeless woman makes another attempt to buy a lottery ticket. The bill is given as change to a rich woman who uses it to snort cocaine, though she leaves it on her car, where it is picked up by the dealer.

The bill ends up being put into a fish by an ex-hippie (Edward Blatchford) where it is won by a young man who has it converted to quarters and uses them to call a phone sex hotline in a bowling alley. The bowling alley owner (Ned Bellamy) gives the bill to his lover (Matt Frewer) and tells him to go out and have fun. He nearly gives the Bill to Sam, who turns it down. He decides to go play bingo at a church. Emily's father, Bruce (Alan North) receives the bill as change. He dies shortly thereafter.

After the funeral, Emily reviews her father's effects, and finds the $20 bill in the wallet together with a copy of her first published short story. Her mother explains her father also wanted to be a writer. Emily decides to go to Europe. At the airport, she explains her decision to her brother (Kevin Kilner), and melodramatically rips up the bill in front of him. Sam is also at the airport, waiting for a flight to Europe. Sam uses the ripped up bill as a bookmark but it all falls out without his noticing it as Sam and Emily walk toward their gate. A title card reading "The End" is derailed by the homeless woman picking up the bill.

She sits down in front of a TV and attempts to patch the bill back together. Just then the lottery numbers are read, and to the woman's ire, they match the serial number of the bill. She goes to a bank and inquires if the bill is still any good. The teller explains that if there's more than 51% of the bill left, it is still valid, and hands the homeless woman a crisp new $20 bill. The homeless woman dramatically reads the serial number of the new bill and leaves the bank. The end credits roll.

Production

The film was based on a screenplay that was nearly 60 years old. It was originally written by Endre Bohem in 1935, but was never filmed; his son, Leslie, discovered it in the 1980s and revised it, modernizing the language and some of the plot. This version of the screenplay was then used for the film.[1] The elder Bohem wrote his spec script soon after the release of If I Had a Million.[2]

In one of the production featurettes, Rosenfeld says that the bills used in the production were figured into the production costs of the film. The producers obtained several bills with consecutive serial numbers, as well as "every thousandth bill" so that some bills would have the right first few digits of the serial number and others the right last few digits. The bills were then selectively damaged in specific ways as required by the script. When they were done with the bills, Rosenfeld says the bills were dropped into the petty cash fund money.

Critical and scholarly reception

While many critics saw the film as a series of uneven vignettes,[3] Roger Ebert thought that "the very lightness of the premise gives the film a kind of freedom. We glimpse revealing moments in lives, instead of following them to one of those manufactured movie conclusions that pretends everything has been settled."[4] Ebert was so engrossed by Christopher Lloyd's performance that he almost forgot about the film's title object,[5] and liked the movie as a whole while acknowledging its vignette construction.

Scholars have compared this film to other films which track a single object traded among various persons (such as Diamond Handcuffs, Tales of Manhattan, The Gun (1974), Dead Man's Gun (1997), The Red Violin, etc.)[6] However, by emphasizing a ubiquitous object rather than a more unique object (such as the auction-worthy violin in The Red Violin), this film "ushers the genre into heretofore unexplored territory."[7]

See also

References

  1. ^ Roger Ebert, Review of Twenty Bucks Chicago Sun-Times, April 8, 1994. "The story of Endre Boehm's original screenplay is almost as problematic as the fate of the $20 bill. He wrote this story in 1935. It gathered dust for more than half a century before he handed it to his son, Leslie, who read it, liked it, did a rewrite, and saw it into production."
  2. ^ David Scott Diffrient, "Stories that Objects Might Live to Tell: The "Hand-Me-Down" Narrative in Film" Other Voices 3 1 (2007). Accessed April 7, 2008. "Passed from Hungarian émigré scenarist Endre Bohem to his son Leslie Bohem, who inherited and adapted the 1935 version in the early 1980s, the story began as a Hollywood spec script not long after If I Had a Million was released. If I Had a Million proved to be an influence on the elder Bohem, who felt a more relevant and plausible film for Depression-era audiences would focus on twenty rather than a million dollars. Though the unproduced script languished for decades, the updated rendering perceptively deconstructs economic disparities that could not have been addressed in the original."
  3. ^ Mick Martin & Marsha Porter, DVD & Video Guide 2005 New York: Random House Publishing Group (2004), p. 1440
  4. ^ Ebert, ibid.
  5. ^ Ebert ibid. "Sometimes an actor will walk into a movie for 15 minutes or so, and show you such strength that you look at him altogether differently. That's what Lloyd does here ... He doesn't play the holdup man as a bad guy, but as a well-spoken, intelligent, logical, firm-minded character who has a chilling reserve. By the time his segment arrives at its unexpected conclusion, I was so absorbed, I'd basically forgotten about the 20 bucks and the rest of the movie."
  6. ^ Diffrient, ibid.
  7. ^ Diffrient, ibid.

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