No Country For Old Men - Book vs. Movie

I hope that many of you have read the book and are able to compare it to the movie by the Cohen Brothers.

The book actually cleared up a few questions I had about the movie, but it added a few more. In no particular order:

  1. In the movie, it was not clear to me who got the money. In fact, based on the scene at the motel in El Paso, where the Mexicans were seen flying out of the parking lot in their truck as Sheriff Bell pulled into the lot to see Llewelyn dead in the doorway, I thought it was strongly implied that the Mexicans got the money. My impression was further solidified when Bell went back to the hotel room right before he headed out of town and saw the lock blown out. He entered the room and looked at the vent opening, with the vent cover and screws laying on the floor. The opening for the vent would not have been big enough for the satchel to fit into, and even if it was, there was not enough room behind the cover. The sheet metal behind the cover converged quickly to a smaller, round pipe that left very little room for a satchel. The book indicates that Chigurh got the money. Anyone else think the movie was misleading on this point?

  2. I didn’t understand this in the movie, and after the book, I still don’t understand how the Mexicans didn’t find the satchel in the first motel room. It had a transponder in it. The Mexicans had a receiver, and they were sitting in the motel room that Llewelyn hid the money in. The room wasn’t big, and they had access to it for at least 12 hours. Are we to believe that the Mexicans were able to find the room with their transponder, but weren’t smart enough to walk around the room with it and find that the receiver was going crazy at the vent? Or in the 12 + hours they had access to the room, they wouldn’t have spotted the vent and opened it up?

  3. As to the first hotel room that the Mexicans were in (Moss’ first room), when Chigurh went into the room and shot the Mexican on the bed (first shot blew his hand/wrist apart, second shot killed him), there were two other Mexicans in the bathroom. Three questions.
    a) WTF were these two guys doing in the bathroom together?
    b) WTF was the one Mexican doing standing in the tub?
    c) Why TF would the one Mexican take a machine gun into the bathroom with him?

I have no idea what was going on in that bathroom, but the book doesn’t address it at all, so I guess I’ll never know, unless someone here can help.

  1. In the book, Chigurh is working as a “free agent”. I wasn’t clear in the book how he got involved in this whole thing in the first place, but he returned the money to one of the parties in full, just to prove to the guy that he was a reliable agent for hire. Does anyone have a better feel for his involvement in the drug deal/money recovery and how he became involved in it?

In the movie, I thought he was hired to recover the money by the guy in the office building that hired Woody Harrelson’s character (Mr. Wells). But in the book, that’s not made clear at all. In fact, in the book, he kills the guy in the office building and there isn’t the accountant in the office that witnesses the murder. Chigurh walks into the office, kills the man, and as he’s dying on the floor, Chigurh walks up to him and tells him that he’s the man that he hired Mr Wells to kill. Chigurh does not mention giving the Mexicans a receiver, and in fact, it is not even suggested that this man knew or was working with the Mexicans. This is one instance that I think the movie was better than the book, in that it tied together some things for the viewer that were undefined in the book.

  1. One of the things that bothered me about the movie was the impression given to the viewer that Sheriff Bell and his deputy were incompetent in the area of evidence gathering and protection. A perfect example of this was the milk bottle in Moss’ trailer. In the movie, Bell picks up the bottle, with no regard to any evidence (like finger prints) left on the bottle, or anywhere else in the trailer. In the book, Bell was presented in a much better light. I wonder if anyone has any insight as to why the Cohen’s decided to make Ed Tom Bell and his deputy more like Barney Fife than actual police officers. (for the record, in the book there was no milk bottle left out by Chigurh. The milk was in a carton)
    I’ll stop here. I have more questions, but let’s try to work through these first. :slight_smile:

Much obliged.

I didn’t think the Sheriff was portrayed as a poor detective at all.

Is it even possible to get fingerprints off of wet glass? Was it possible in 1980?

I don’t know much about fingerprinting techniques, but fingerprints were indeed used to identify criminals, and I would think that picking up a glass, sitting down and drinking a glass of milk from a bottle he knew Chigurh pulled out of the refrigerator would compromise the evidence. If they could have been able to get prints off the bottle, he made that impossible. He also picked up some spent shells in the desert crime scene, saw the blown out lock at the hotel in El Paso and still turned the door knob, and a few other things I noticed. It didn’t ruin the movie, but the book portrayed him in a different light.

I’ve read the book and watched the movie several times, the result being that the book and the movie are mushed together in my head. So I can’t answer any of your questions.

So why am I in the thread? To ask another question about the book: What the hell was going on with the Mexicans in the Barracuda?

On this note, I wondered how they were able to track Llewellyn to Del Rio. I seem to recall that Anton found some sort of document with a Del Rio address in his trailer and somehow made the connection. Did the Mexicans, who I assume came looking for Llewellyn at his trailer later, find the same documents and make the assumption themselves that he would be in Del Rio? I haven’t read the book. Is it something they explain better in it?

Just a disclaimer: I haven’t read the book. I’m sorry, haha. I want to, but I haven’t. The movie is fucking amazing, though.

To me the movie implied that Anton got the money. Anton expected Llewelyn to set the money “at [his] feet.” Instead, Llewelyn fled to El Paso where he was killed by the Mexicans. Anton boldly ventured onto the crime scene (Llewelyn’s room) at night where I’m assuming he found the money.

Maybe they’d tracked him to his room but found he wasn’t there and were lying in wait. Or something. Hahaha, I don’t know. This part doesn’t make sense to me, either.

a) They could have just been in there talking or something. I’ve been in the bathroom at my place with a friend before. It doesn’t happen often, but there are any number of reasons as to why they were in there.
b) He wasn’t in the tub when Anton first came in lighting everyone up. He was just standing in the bathroom. But when the shooting broke out he jumped into the tub to hide, closing the curtain. Anton opened the curtain of course to question him briefly before closing it again and lighting his ass up.
c) In the movie he was armed with what looked like a submachine gun. It certainly seemed small enough for him to have it tucked in his belt. These guys are criminals likely expecting a fight with Llewelyn, it isn’t surprising that they’d always have their weapons with them.

In the film Stephen Root’s character hired Anton, Carson and the Mexicans. They’re all effectively mercenaries trying to get their pay from him. Anton kills him when he learns that he’s been hiring everyone and their mother to get the money back.

Are you fucking kidding? Sheriff Bell seemed like a fucking badass in the movie. He was very insightful with his investigations and he seemed to be grooming his deputy to be like him one day.

The Mexicans have a transponder receiver just like Anton.

I realize that they had a transponder. But how did they figure out he was hiding in Del Rio. I assume that you have to be within a certain close range for the transponder to work. Because it seemed to me like Anton didn’t know to go to Del Rio until the next morning when went to Llewellyn’s trailer and investigated. Or am I wrong and would the Mexicans have had a transponder that in fact worked over long distances?

Good question. I just don’t know.

Until someone comes along with a better explanation I’ll have to assume that they investigated the old-fashioned way like Carson did when he found Llewelyn in Mexico.

I’m a bit fuzzy but didn’t the Mexicans track him through his mother-in-law where they had questioned her before she boarded the bus?

No no no. That’s later, when Llewelyn tells his wife and mother-in-law to go to El Paso to meet up with him.

We’re talking about earlier when Anton finds the Mexicans in Llewelyn’s room in Del Rio. Remember, the hotel where Llewelyn hid the money in the vents?

No, I’m not kidding. Watch the movie again. Bell isn’t a badass, in the movie or in the book. He’s a good sheriff who realizes he’s running into a type of criminal he’s not comfortable dealing with because he doesn’t understand them. As far as insightful, no argument there. But I’m not talking about insight. I’m talking about crime scene contamination and touching potential evidence. Big difference.
And my name isn’t Stinky. Cutting and pasting is simple. Try it sometime.

What potential evidence does he contaminate? He touches the milk glass (I’m not even sure if you can get prints off of a sweating glass) and some bullet casings. These guys aren’t CSI, they’re rural sheriffs.

You’re the only person I’ve talked to who’s brought up the Sheriff’s incompetence. I didn’t get that impression from the film at all.

This isn’t explained in the book, either. However, in the book (as in the movie) Chigurh finds the phone bill (which he finds in Carla Jean’s grandmother’s house, also… very convenient timing, I’d say). The phone bill had calls to Odessa and Del Rio, which would explain how Chigurh knew to head there… it seems a stretch to go there based on a long-distance phone call, but he didn’t have anything else to go with, and the book has no other explanation.

How the Mexicans found Llewelyn in Del Rio is not explained. And the scene in the movie that shows the Mexican in the suit helping Carla Jean and her mother with the bags at the bus depot is not in the book at all.

Oh, and from the book, Carla Jean’s “mom” is actually her grandmother, but it’s not integral to the plot so it was easy for the Cohen Brothers to not explain it.

In the film they go one step further than simply being ambiguous, they actually change it to her mother.

At the end of the film she’s at the mother/grandmother’s house and tells Anton “I buried my mother today.”

I’m not sure on the exact conversation but I’m pretty sure Carla Jean also asks Llewelyn “What about my mother?” “They won’t bother her.”

Just because they are rural police it doesn’t mean they are buffoons. They should know how to keep a crime scene as uncontaminated as possible.

From the book, there is no glass bottle. Anton opens the refrigerator, drinks from a carton, and puts the carton back.

In the movie, the Cohen brothers use a glass bottle that is left out and “sweats”. Bell picks up the bottle and pours from it. He shouldn’t have opened a cupboard, or touched the bottle.

It’s not a big deal… this is the least of my questions. But it seemed that in the movie, Bell wasn’t all that conscious of maintaining evidence integrity. He is portrayed much differently in the book. I just wondered if anyone had heard if there was a reason the Cohen’s decided to go that way.

You are correct. And in the book, she is also referred to as her “mother”. In the book, however, Cormac McCarthy (the author) spends some time detailing the actual relationship between Carla Jean and her grandmother. Like I said, it isn’t a very important detail in the book, so I can see why the Cohen’s didn’t bother to explain it. It really doesn’t matter one way or the other.

I think it’s likely that, even if you’re right and they are displaying incompetence in the movie, I don’t think it was the Cohen brothers’ intention.

AutiePam, can you refresh my mind as to what you mean by Mexicans in the Barracuda? I’m not sure I know what scene you are referring to from the book.

Here’s my question though, why shouldn’t he have touched the bottle. I have serious doubts that they’d be able to do a thing with it anyway. Unless somebody can show otherwise I’m going to assume that in 1980 it was impossible to get fingerprints off of wet glass.