Lebowski’s Jackie Treehorn scene

Examining the Jackie Treehorn scene from The Big Lebowksi. While it is neither the most amusing or the most remarkable scene in the movie, it stands out for a particular reason.

Before reading this, it may be worth taking a quick look at my incomplete examination of the symbols represented in the movie. It used to be in here, but it made my point even more obscure and even more badly written.

There isn’t any need to cover the basic story of The Big Lebowski, suffice to say that it has a twisted plot involving a stoned, dropped-out bowler called “The Dude” and his association with a kidnapping. Beyond the many symbols introduced through the storytelling, the actual plot doesn’t matter too much. Despite the fact that he applies almost no effort, The Dude eventually manages to solve the case. It’s his complete lack of effort and initiative through the movie that makes this particular scene stand out – it’s the first time The Dude actually does anything.

The scene

The Dude gets a visit from the goons that urinated on his carpet, telling him that Jackie Treehorn, producer of adult films including “Logjammin’“, wants to talk to him.

Jackie Treehorn

Up to this point in the movie, the Dude has been extremely ineffective in solving the kidnapping case, or advancing it towards solution (he goofed up the fake-ransom payment, he lost the money, and so on). This is mostly due to the fact that he’s made no effort whatsoever - after all, he’s the Dude, and “the Dude abides”.

The scene in Jackie Treehorn’s “pad”, stands out as the only moment where the Dude actively tries to figure out what is going on.

Exterior shot of Jackies house

Jackie Treehorn, wearing a fantastic white suite with a bright red shirt (heaven/success and hell/excess rolled into one person), asks the Dude some questions regarding the kidnapping. In particular, Jackie wants to know what happened to the money. As usual, the Dude appears to be pretty chilled.

The Dude relaxing on the couch

The Jackie is interrupted by a phone call. While taking the call, Jackie writes something on a note pad which sparks the Dude’s attention (the first time the Dude has shown any interest in anything in the film, apart from Bunny).

Jackie noticing the phone is ringing

The Dude pays attention

Jackie taking notes

Jackie then takes the note and excuses himself for a moment.

Jackie removing the note from the pad

Jackie leaving the room

At last, this is it - the moment the Dude decides to do something! He sneaks over to the desk and uses the grade-school detective trick of softly tracing the page underneath in order to expose the note.

The Dude sneaking towards the telephone

The Dude exposing the message

The result: a rude doodle.

The result is a doodle of a naked man

The Dudes puzzled response

Remember the message “What makes a man?”, “Prepared to do whatever it takes, no matter the cost” and “the bums will always lose”? The Dude has finally stood up and done something. His reward for finally deciding to get active: to be drugged, arrested and beaten up.

The Dude abides.