In their new comedy Barton Fink, Joel and Ethan Coen have fashioned a parable about the intellectual vanity of a creative individual who wants to improve society with his vision of the common man. John Turturro plays the lead character, a sober New York playwright who, following the success of his first drama, accepts an offer to go to Hollywood and write screenplays.

Barton Fink checks into a sleazy hotel and then meets Jack Lipnick (Michael Lerner), the domineering head of Capitol Studios. His first assignment is a wrestling flick for actor Wallace Beery. Sweating it out in his room where the wallpaper is peeling off in strips, Fink experiences writer's block.

He hopes to get a little help from W. P. Mayhew (John Mahoney), a novelist-turned-screenwriter, but he is disappointed. The man is a lush whose only hold on reality is his lovely assistant and mistress (Judy Davis). The one who could save Barton Fink is the cheery insurance salesman (John Goodman) who lives in the hotel room next door. However, the self-important writer refuses to let this common man feed his head with all his stories from the road.

Barton Fink is the fourth film by Joel and Ethan Coen. When it was shown in competition at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, it became the first film in the 44-year history of the festival to win the Best Picture, the Best Director, and the Best Actor Awards (John Turturro).

Barton Fink is certainly one of the most distinctive films of the year with its colorful Tinseltown characters, its leisurely exploration of writer's block, and its startling imagery. However, the accolades stop here given the violence in the final scenes. The gratuitous mayhem at the end of Barton Fink vitiates much of the delight that proceeds it.