The legendary Coen Brothers were developing an anthology series for Netflix, “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” starring Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson and Tom Waits. What would have been a six-episode miniseries of western tales is now being re-edited for the Netflix streaming service as a feature film. This will make their project eligible for the Venice Film Festival next month.
Had “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” remained a series, it would have been the very first TV series for the directing duo, considering Fargo doesn’t count as they were not directors on the TV adaptation of their film. The original episode order was said to have gone something like this:
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is about a singing cowboy.
“Near Algodones” is about a high-plains drifter whose own fecklessness dogs his attempts at bank robbery and cattle driving.
The third story, “Meal Ticket,” follows an actor and impresario of a traveling show.
The fourth, “All Gold Canyon,” is about a prospector who happily finds a gold seam but then unhappily finds an evil encroacher.
The fifth, “The Gal Who Got Rattled,” follows two trail bosses on the Oregon Trail and a woman on the wagon train who needs the help of one of them and who might be a marriage prospect for the other.
Lastly, “The Mortal Remains,” about the five very different passengers on a stagecoach of mysterious destination.
And yet the Coens don’t seem so keen to a TV series. Even when the project was announced, they referred to it as a “feature-length omnibus consisting of six separate stories.” But they clearly love anthologies and have said as much in a statement they released at Variety.
“We’ve always loved anthology movies, especially those films made in Italy in the Sixties which set side-by-side the work of different directors on a common theme…Having written an anthology of Western stories we attempted to do the same, hoping to enlist the best directors working today. It was our great fortune that they both agreed to participate.”
So it looks as though a new Coen Brothers movie has snuck into 2018 and I’m more than excited to see it!
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” will premiere at the Venice Film Festival August 29 – September 8, with a Netflix premiere sometime towards the end of the year.