'The Big Lebowski' draws crowd of Dudes to Bama Theatre

'The Big Lebowski' draws crowd of Dudes to Bama Theatre

A scramble of bowling shirts, khaki vests and bath robes were on display in downtown Tuscaloosa Saturday evening, befitting the assortment of bowlers, Walter Sobchak’s and, of course, Dudes coming together to celebrate “all things Lebowski.”

Wellthatscool.com screened cult-comedy favorite “The Big Lebowski” at the Bama Theatre on Saturday at the close of Tuscaloosa Abides: A Celebration of All Things Lebowski.

In its third rendition, the event brought out enough of a showing to fill the majority of the theater’s main floor and offered a Lebowski-themed costume contest, games of Wii Bowling and a special on the Dude’s drink of choice, the White Russian.

As attendants milled about before the contest and screening, the “The Big Lebowski” soundtrack was pumped through lobby speakers, and Wii renditions of The Dude, Walter, Maude and “The Jesus” were pit against each other in Wii Bowling.

Popping out of the dull roar of conversation and music were relentless streams of quotations from some of the film’s most explicit moments, greeted with smiles and the appropriate retorts.

“I’ve probably seen it 40 to 50 times,” Patrick Blanchard of McCalla said. “I was going to say that’s an exaggeration, but when I think about it, it’s probably not far from the truth.”

Blanchard, sporting a T-shirt of the “Big Lebowski’s Urban Achievers,” referred to the film as something that “just sticks with you” and said he enjoyed the surrounding of fans devoted to the movie and its characters, but also the beautiful theatrical presence provided by his first-time visit to the Bama Theatre.

“It’s the Bama Theatre,” Blanchard said. “If you get any chance to come out, you have to do it.”

Before the start of the film, seven contests took the stage to compete in an applause-based costume contest led by Mama Dixie of The Pink Box Burlesque, Tuscaloosa’s burlesque troupe. The top three each won free games of bowling, Pink Box tickets and a cash prize, but first place earned a bowling ball and bag and second place a used bowling pin.

Each provided their own anecdote or impression, but the first-prize winning Walter’s proud admission of “not driving here on the Shabbos” earned him the loudest of the applause and hoots and hollers.

“Honestly his clothes were the clothes I had in my closet,” said Billy Field, the winning Walter. “And no, I would not drive here on the Shabbos.”

During the screening, the film’s signature quotes and scenes were preempted and followed by scores of laughter, but a running murmur of commentary, quotation and more laughs were strung throughout the film from start to finish.

Alerted to the screening by Sandra Lary, his girlfriend who had not seen the film, Field himself came to watch what he claimed to be his 14th viewing of the film. However, Lary had heard plenty about the film beforehand.

“There was a lot build up to it,” Lary said. “But, it was all I could have expected it to be.”

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