The Big Lebowski's TV Edit Contains The Greatest (And Strangest) Censorship Moment Of All Time

There is one movie scene that always makes me cry with laughter. In Joel and Ethan Coen's "The Big Lebowski," when the Dude (Jeff Bridges) and Walter (John Goodman) confront teenage Larry Sellers (Jesse Flanagan), who stole the Dude's car and the briefcase full of money in it (or so they think). When the Dude recovers his car, he finds Larry's crumpled-up homework at the scene of the crime.

After a failed interrogation by Walter ("Is this your homework Larry?") where Larry stays silent and stone-faced, Walter goes to "Plan B." He takes a crowbar and smashes a red sports car parked outside Larry's house, declaring "You see what happens, Larry?! This is what happens you f*** a stranger in the ass!" Only problem? It turns out the car isn't Larry's.

The scene belongs to Goodman and he runs away with it. His progressively more agitated delivery is pitch-perfect, from his early calm ("Larry, have you ever heard of Vietnam?") to his eventual screaming. The physical comedy of the scene is just as vital, from the way Walter speed-walks to get the crowbar (you can tell he's been waiting to do this) to how he suddenly recoils when the car's real owner confronts him.

When "The Big Lebowski" aired on Comedy Central, it was a censored version, and for a good reason: the film's dialogue is far too vulgar to pass FCC regulations. The altered dialogue of the scene mentioned above is just as memorable as the real thing, but for a totally different reason. When the scene comes, the dialogue isn't merely bleeped out, but swapped for a clean ADR version. The new dialogue adds an uncanny, downright surreal quality to the scene.

'You see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!'

The censored scene proceeds the same until Walter's big declaration. Now he says, "You see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!" Next, he says, "This is what happens when you feed a stoner scrambled eggs!" A third censored line almost comes, "This is what happens when you fool a stranger-" but he gets cut off. 

This censorship is infamous — it even inspired the title of Phoebe Bridgers' debut album! "Find a stranger in the alps" is pure nonsense and doesn't convey anything close to the intended meaning. As such, "The Big Lebowski" is often held up as one of the worst (though funniest) examples of censorship damaging classic movies.

In 2013, called the censored dialogue, "the most nonsensical stream of synapse misfires in the history of epilepsy. We can't even begin to fathom what Superstation employee wrote the new dialogue, let alone the unfortunate event that forced him to rush home for the day without double-checking it for crazy stupidness."

However, there are rumors that the Coens themselves wrote the censored dialogue, making the whole thing a joke the filmmakers were in on. "Find a stranger in the alps" does phonetically match "f*** a stranger in the ass," and the Coens are exacting masters of dialogue, after all. This explains why Comedy Central went with such inexplicable nonsense (seriously, no one considered subbing in "Kick a stranger in the ass?"). The fact there's more than one nonsense phrase, not just one repeated, is also indicative of someone having fun devising such ridiculous turns of phrase.

If these rumors are true, then the Coens took onerous restrictions, created something memorable from them, and implicitly mocked those very same restrictions. Now that's talent.