[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/o_brother_p.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:300:After a half-century of waiting, we finally get to see that Great Depression epic!]]

-> ''[[BrokenRecord "Damn, we're in a tight spot!"]]''

Written and directed by Creator/TheCoenBrothers, three [[TheGreatDepression Depression-era]] [[DeepSouth Mississippi]] prison fugitives go on a rollicking adventure in an attempt to reach the money buried by one of them in his back yard. They have only a short time to do this, though, as the backyard in question is in an area slated to be flooded by the damming activities of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The story is (very) loosely [[TwiceToldTale based]] on Homer's ''Literature/TheOdyssey'', following [[MeaningfulName Ulysses]] Everett [=McGill=], Delmar O'Donnell and Pete as they meet, among others, a [[BlindSeer blind prophet]], sirens, the Cyclops and a gifted guitar player who "[[DealWithTheDevil sold his soul to the devil]]". Also during their journey, they record a hit song, rob a bank with George "Baby Face" Nelson, encounter the KKK, and inadvertently get mixed up in the state gubernatorial election. [[AwesomeMusic/{{Film}} It was noted for the tremendous success of its soundtrack]], most of which was recorded by [[AlisonKraussAndUnionStation Alison Krauss & Union Station]] (Dan Tyminski provided Everett's singing voice) and other country-bluegrass acts.

Bonus points if you recognize the title from the 1941 Creator/PrestonSturges' film ''Film/SullivansTravels''.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AgentScully: Despite being pursued by Satan, meeting a prophet, being seduced by sirens, and [[spoiler: being apparently saved from execution by divine intervention]], Everett still insists that there is a reasonable explanation for everything. At least it's {{Lampshaded}}. And by the end, he doesn't really seem sure of himself any more after [[spoiler:seeing the cow on the roof of a shed, which the prophet told them they would see back at the beginning.]]
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: Some of [[spoiler:Homer Stokes']] about the heroes near the end of the movie were, "These boys is ''not'' white! Hell, they ain't even old-timey."
* AtTheCrossroads: The three meet Tommy here after he [[DealWithTheDevil sold his soul to the devil]] ([[NotableQuotables "I wasn't usin' it for nothin'"]]) to become a famous musician, this is based on the real life Tommy Johnson who was the originator of the story. [[OlderThanTheyThink Yes, he did it before Robert Johnson]]
* BerserkButton:
** [[AccidentalMisnaming George "Babyface" Nelson]] ([[NotableQuotables "He's a live wire, ain't he?"]]). TruthInTelevision with the real George Nelson.
** Also, Pete doesn't take kindly to people stealing from his kin.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Sort of. Delmar [[spoiler:is the only member of the group to turn and attack Big Dan head-on when Dan shows his TrueColors.]] Unfortunately, [[spoiler:he still gets his ass kicked.]]
* BewitchedAmphibians: Delmar is at one point convinced this has happened to Pete.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Our "heroes" include a trio of escaped criminals and a bad-tempered, corrupt governor. The villains include the Grand Dragon of a KKK chapter and his lackeys, and an InspectorJavert [[spoiler:who may actually be the Devil]]. The most sympathetic characters are probably Delmar ([[DumbIsGood a sweetly cheerful idiot]] who nevertheless still goes along with Everett's schemes) and Tommy, who ''sold his soul to the Devil.''
* BlatantLies: "That ain't your daddy. Your daddy was hit by a train."
* BlindSeer: Lampshaded by Everett, who insists the man has a DisabilitySuperpower.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Homer Stokes seems like a nice enough guy and possibly a better governor than Pappy O'Daniel. And then [[spoiler: we see him leading a Ku Klux Klan rally...]]
* BookEnds:
** The film opens with a chain gang together working near a railroad track and singing. The film closes with [[spoiler: Everett and Penny's daughters tied together by twine walking over a railroad track and singing.]]
** Also near the beginning they meet the blind prophet on the tracks, who sets up the story; at the end the blind prophet is seen passing by on the tracks.
* BreakAwayPopHit:
** The soundtrack had its own sequels.
** In-movie also, since the Soggy Bottom Boys' singing is [[LampshadeHanging so good]] it helps resolve the plot.
* BrickJoke:
** The blind prophet at the beginning of the film mentions the trio will see a cow on the roof of a cotton house. Guess what they see after [[spoiler: the land is flooded near the end of the film]].
** There's also a very subtle example that probably went over the head of most viewers. John Goodman's character is clearly modeled on the cyclops of Homer's ''The Odyssey'', with his eye patch and his violent confrontation with the heroes. Goodman's character is later revealed to be a member of the Klan. Though unmentioned in the film, one of the Klan's rankings is "Grand Cyclops."
** After mocking Delmar and Pete for being baptized early in the movie, skeptic Everett [[spoiler: admits his failings and begs for mercy in a NotSoFinalConfession at the gallows. He is then forcibly immersed by the floodwaters, and everyone is saved. Literally.]]
** When George Nelson is [[spoiler: being taken off to his execution]] one of the procession for the event yells "cow killer!" See EverythingsBetterWithCows below.
* BurnBabyBurn
* TheCastShowoff: Real-life blues singer Chris Thomas King plays Tommy, and at one point gets to sing (in his own voice) a rendition of Skip James' "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues." Also, that's really Tim Blake Nelson singing the lead vocal on "In The Jailhouse Now".
* CensorshipBySpelling: "Mrs. Hogwallop up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T." Becomes somewhat of a RunningGag.
* ChainedHeat
* ChekhovsGun: Everett's pomade, particularly its distinctive smell, which lets the Sheriff track them down.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Delmar [[NotableQuotables "We Thought You Was a Toad"]] O'Donnell.
* ColorWash: They messed with the hue and saturation until everything was an intensely colorful brown, imitating the look of sepia-toned photos.
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: When Everett [[spoiler: admits he made the treasure up to convince his chainmates—i.e., Pete and Delmar—to help him escape]], Pete realizes that fifty years will be added to each of their sentences for fleeing the chain gang, and that he won't get out of prison until he's 84 years old. Delmar happily chimes in, "Well, I'll only be 82!"
* ComicTrio: Everett is TheLeader, Delmar is TheFool, and Pete is the OnlySaneMan (compared to the other two, at least).
* ContrivedCoincidence: [[spoiler: ''Of course'' the guy the KKK decides to lynch is the one our heroes know and are on friendly terms with.]]
* CorruptHick: The insanely corrupt Big Dan Teague. Who is channeling the cyclops Polyphemus.
* CultSoundtrack: The soundtrack album is [[http://blog.rhapsody.com/2009/11/countdec.html regarded]] as one of the most important [[CountryMusic Country]] and {{Bluegrass}} albums of the decade and sold over 7 million copies. It also won the GrammyAward for Album of the Year in 2002, making it one of only three soundtracks to ever win that award.
* DealWithTheDevil: Tommy Johnson traded his soul to the devil at the crossroads for his guitar skills.
* DeepSouth
* {{Defictionalization}}: The Soggy Bottom Boys.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: Of the sepia variety, see RealIsBrown below.
* DeusExMachina: [[spoiler:The flooding happens at ''exactly'' the right time to save them all from being hanged.]] Possibly a literal example.
* DidNotDieThatWay: inverted, [=McGill=] finds out his wife has told his daughters that he got hit by a train, rather than tell them he was sent to jail.
* DisneyDeath: Pete was believed to have transformed into a Toad by the launderer sirens, so they take him in a box. The toad was then killed by Big Dan Teague by being crushed, and his friends were physically incapable of stopping his death because they were beaten to bloody pulps. It was later revealed that the toad was actually ''not'' Pete, nor was he even transformed by a toad: Turns out those "launderer sirens" actually delivered him to Sheriff Cooley's men for the reward, and is now a prisoner back at the farm.
* TheDitz: Delmar.
* EmptyPilesOfClothing: This (and a toad) cause the other two to assume Pete's been turned into a toad.
* EnthrallingSiren: The three washerwomen are the siren stand-ins.
* EverythingsBetterWithCows: One is gunned down during a stampede ([[NotableQuotables "Cows! I hate cows worse than coppers!"]]), another is involved in the BrickJoke.
* EyepatchOfPower: Big Dan Teague.
* FanDisservice: The Sirens, in addition to being generally beautiful, all wear wet dresses so you can see their lingerie. Yet, combined with the [[IronicNurseryTune creepy song]] they keep singing, and the fact that one of them is forcing a drug down Everett's throat, you can't help but feel there's something off about the whole thing.
* FakeBand: The Soggy Bottom Boys.
* FatSweatySouthernerInAWhiteSuit: Several. Most notably, Governor Pappy O'Daniel (for the mildly corrupt version) and Big Dan Teague (for the insanely corrupt version).
* FirstFatherWins
* FriendToAllLivingThings: Delmar, or butterflies at the least.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent:
** Everett, Delmar, and Pete are all chained together, and try to escape by boarding a moving train. In the foreground we see Everett (on the train) introducing himself to some hobos. In the background, Pete trips before he can climb in...
** Also, Pete's gloriously goofy dancing during Delmar's rendition of "In the Jailhouse Now."
** Background singing - in ''Man of Constant Sorrow'', Everett finishes singing a depressing stanza that ends in the line "perhaps I'll die upon this train..." and Delmar and Pete chime in with a cheery "Perhaps he'll die upon this train!"
* GenreBusting: It's a musical/comedy/social commentary/retelling of ''Literature/TheOdyssey''... that's set in TheGreatDepression.
* GoodOldFisticuffs: Vernon gives Ulysses a good old-timey ass-whoopin' in the Woolworths. Vernon apparently has some training in the pugilistic arts, whereas Ulysses... not so much.
* GoOutWithASmile: George Nelson. We don't see him killed but his last scene is him having been caught by a mob and being led to his execution. He's more then happy with it, however; the mob was even nice enough to give him some violinists as a funeral march.
* HistoricalInJoke
* {{Hobos}}
* HypocriticalHumor: [[spoiler:Just before he's executed, Everett prays to God to let him see his daughters at least one more time. When the dam breaks and saves him, he starts going on about reason. The other two immediately call him out on it.]]
* ImplacableMan: the Sheriff.
* InspectorJavert: The Sheriff characterizes himself this way at the very end, claiming that the boys have only been pardoned by the law of man.
* IronicNurseryTune: The siren-seduction scene, to "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby" Also a rare case of erotic horror.
* KickTheDog: Big Dan beats up Everett and Delmar, steals their money, and crushes their frog [[spoiler:whom Delmar thinks is]] Pete in front of them.
* TheKlan: Appears as enemies midway through the movie, as Everett, Pete, and Delmar must rescue their friend Tommy from the Klan.
* TheLancer: Pete.
* LargeAndInCharge: Governor Pappy O'Daniel. [[NotableQuotables "We're mass communicatin'!"]]
* LargeHam: Homer Stokes. [[spoiler: It's particularly noticeable in the scene where he leads a KKK rally.]] Of course, it makes sense, given that he's running for governor and a talent for public oratory would help him a lot.
* LouisCypher: The Sheriff who is [[SternChase chasing after them]]. His ScaryShinyGlasses [[IncendiaryExponent reflect fire]] a lot.
* LyricalDissonance: The Soggy Bottom Boys' extremely cheerful, upbeat rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow".
* MagicRealism: There are more than a few downright mystical occurrences in the film, such as the prophet, the sirens, and the strong implication that the Warden is Satan.
* MeaningfulName: In a story based off ''Literature/TheOdyssey'', the main character's name is Ulysses.
** Likewise the Governor, whose name is Menalaus, although that's a little more ''Literature/TheIliad''.
* MusicalWorldHypotheses: Diegetic all the way through, making its classification as a musical to begin with dubious to some.
* MythicalMotifs: While the film doesn't follow ''Literature/TheOdyssey'' to the letter, it does borrow some notable plot elements from it, such as the Cyclops, the sirens, and one of the main characters trying to get home to his wife so she won't marry someone else.
* MythologyGag: Big Dan the cyclops ''looks'' like he's going to lose his eye to a flung [[spoiler: Confederate flag]] spear, much like Polyphemus, but he manages to [[ArrowCatch catch it between his hands]] at the last moment. [[spoiler: Then the gang cuts down the fiery cross, which falls on top of him, almost certainly burning his eye out and preserving a piece of the narrative.]]
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: There really was a Depression-era Governor named Pappy O'Daniel, but his given name was Wilbert Lee O'Daniel; in the film the governor's real first name is Menelaus (another Homer reference). Also the real O'Daniel was governor of Texas, not Mississippi.
* NotHisSled: The expected fate of John Goodman's "cyclops" is deliberately referenced then avoided. [[DoubleSubversion Then happens slightly differently anyway.]]
* OhCrap:
** JohnGoodman's reaction when he realizes that the fiery cross was coming down directly ''at'' him.
** Also, Homer Stokes' reaction when he realizes that the town, after his attempt at getting the Soggy Bottom Boys arrested failed, is now going to run him out of town on a rail as revenge for interrupting the performance.
* PaperThinDisguise: Toward the end of the movie, the fugitive "Soggy Bottom Boys" perform ([[NotableQuotables "Neighborhood of B"]]) while disguised with false beards. [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] later, when their performance wins over the crowd and Everett deliberately yanks his beard off for a moment.
* ThePardon: Granted but ignored.
* PoliticallyCorrectHistory: Zig-zagged. The white heroes refer to Tommy as a "boy," but otherwise treat him as an equal. The radio station manager insists that he won't play "colored songs," but once the "Soggy Bottom Boys" become popular, Pappy O'Daniel doesn't seem to care that "they's integrated." The KKK is shown in all its silly racist glory, but also portrayed as a fringe organization that is not looked upon favorably by the common townsfolk.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain [[spoiler: Homer Stokes, candidate for governor by day, Klansman by night.]]
* PopcultureOsmosis: The Coens have claimed that they've never actually read ''Literature/TheOdyssey'', but know the story through its various adaptations.
* ProducePelting: What the audience does when Homer Stokes ends up interrupting the Soggy Bottom Boys performance to get them arrested, that as well as ride him out of town on a rail.
* RealIsBrown: Pursued with a vengeance, given that a substantial portion of the film's post-production budget went into extensive color-correction. The Coens wanted every frame of the film to reflect the dingy, withered dustbowl look, and in some cases took entire fields of green flora and turned them yellow.
* ReducedToRatburgers: Pete and Delmar find a "whole gopher village" and proceed to cook some up. Everett doesn't seem very enticed by the notion of eating rodent.
* {{Retirony}}: Of a sort. Pete was two weeks from being released from prison anyway. Now that he's escaped, he won't get out until 19''87.''
* RockMeAsmodeus: "And I have it from the highest 'thority, that that negra...''sold his soul to the'' '''Devil!!!'''" (the townsfolk don't buy into it, though)
* RunningGag: Briefly.
-->"Damn, we're in a tight spot!"
** Everett's obsession with his Dapper Dan pomade also counts.
* {{Satan}}: Sheriff Cooley is explicitly theorized to be this.
* ScaryShinyGlasses: The Sheriff/Warden/[[spoiler: Devil]] wears these.
* SeinfeldianConversation: This charming example:
-->"He's gonna paddle our little behind."
-->"Ain't gonna paddle it - gonna kick it. Real hard."
-->"No, I believe he's gonna paddle it."
-->"I don't believe that's a proper description."
-->"Well, that's how I'd characterize it."
-->"I believe it's more of a kickin' sitchiation."
** The discussion of a [[NotableQuotables "grease spot on the L&N"]] and a "bona-fide" suitor ranks right up there too.
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Everett. For example, from the FunnyBackgroundEvent described above:
-->Say, any of you fellas happen to be smithies? If not smithies ''per se'', perhaps you trained in the [[TheBlacksmith metallurgical arts]] before straitened circumstances led you to a life of [[{{Hobos}} aimless wandering]]?
** Also Big Dan Teague:
-->And thank you for that conversational hiatus. I generally refrain from speech while engaged in gustation. There are those who attempt both at the same time; I find it coarse and vulgar.
* ShoutOut: Tommy's DealWithTheDevil is a reference to a similar deal supposedly made by real-life bluesman [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Johnson_(blues_musician) Tommy Johnson]]
** The title of the movie is itself a ShoutOut, to Creator/PrestonSturges' ''Sullivan's Travels''.
** The entire plot contains various shout outs to the Greek poem Literature/TheOdyssey by Literature/{{Homer}}. The main protagonist is named Ulysses in both stories, has to get home to prevent his wife from marrying someone else and they meet singing women who seduce them (the Sirens) and a one-eyed giant man (the cyclops). The reform candidate is named Homer Stokes, referencing the author Homer. The blind railroad man predicting events references Tiresias, while the blind radio station manager references Homer again, who was also said to be blind.
** The KKK scene is based off of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin man try to sneak into the witches castle. The guards are chanting the way the KKK does and even doing a similar dance, and the three heroes steal disguises from the guards/KKK.
** The Soggy Bottom Boys are a reference to the Light Crust Doughboys, who were featured on the real-life [[http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/treasures/characters/pappy.html Pappy O'Daniel's]] radio show.
** There's a coffin floating on a flooded river at the end, which is most certainly a shout out to William Faulkner's ''As I Lay Dying''.
*** And they [[Literature/MobyDick use it as a raft]]
** A man named Ulysses meets a blues singer at a crossroads. [[{{Cream}} Coincidence]]?
** Sheriff Cooley dresses and looks very similar to the villain in the Paul Newman movie ''Film/CoolHandLuke''.
* SophisticatedAsHell: Many of the characters in a patchily-educated way, but mostly Everett. "I'm the goddamn paterfamilias!"
* SourceMusic: All the music in the film is diegetic.
* StoutStrength: Big Dan Teague.
* SternChase: The Warden's search for the three convicts.
* TheStoolPigeon: Pete ends up becoming a Lacerated Larry after the "Sireens" basically turned him over to the sheriff's men for a bounty (which initially led them to believe that Pete was actually turned into a frog due to it being in his clothes).
* SurroundedByIdiots - Pappy O'Daniel's cronies and son are sycophantic yes-men who are a bit slow on the uptake, and Pappy is painfully aware of this. This is most likely the reason he tries to convince Vernon T. Waldrip to leave Stokes' campaign and join his.
* SuspiciouslySpecificDenial: "Who is that man?" "Not my husband." Also doubles as a ShoutOut to the source material.
* TheVamp: The three sirens
* ThoseTwoGuys: Pappy's two advisors, see the SeinfeldianConversation above.
* TrueCompanions: Everett, Pete, Delmar, and Tommy.
* TWordEuphemism: Sort of. One character wants to prevent his son from knowing that his mother left the family, so he just says she "Up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T."
** Subverted later on, in that the kid knew ''exactly'' what he was talking about, anyway.
* UnusuallyUninterestingSight: The bank customers at the robbery seem to be rather non-plussed by all the shooting.
* UpperClassTwit: Pappy O'Daniel's son.
* VillainousGlutton: Big Dan Teague, as befits his correspondence with the cyclops Polyphemus.
* VillainousBreakdown: "Babyface" Nelson and Homer Stokes.
** [[spoiler:Nelson gets better]]...sort of.
** "MY NAME IS GEORGE NELSON, AND I'M FEELIN' TEN FEET TALL!"
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: [[spoiler: Homer Stokes, oh so much]]
* WholePlotReference: Loosely, to The Odyssey.
* WorkingOnTheChainGang: The story begins with Ulysses, Pete, and Delmar escaping from this while chained to each other. Pete, at one point, is recaptured and put back to work on the chain gang and has to be broken out of prison ''again''.
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