Flip You for Real: Am I Crazy?

February 11th, 2012 | Category: Marginalia, Videos

Bear with me for a second here… A couple of years ago, my friend and longtime skateboarding partner Greg Siegfried lent me the Thelonius Monk documentary, Straight, No Chaser (1988). Wait, let me back up: I’ve watched The Usual Suspects (1995) dozens of times. It’s one of those heist movies that rewards you with something new upon repeated viewings. So, while watching the Thelonius Monk joint, I saw a scene that freaked me out in its similarity to a scene in The Usual Suspects. Benicio Del Toro’s character, Fred Fenster, talks in an English so broken as to be blurred with a day of beers. During the interrogation montage early in the film, which serves to introduce “the usual suspects,” Del Toro seems to be channeling Thelonius Monk. I have embedded both clips below so you can assure me that I’m not crazy.

Thelonius Monk [runtime: 0:28]:

The Usual Suspects [runtime: 0:11]:

So, am I crazy? Does anyone know if Benicio Del Toro was deliberately channeling Thelonius Monk for this role? It flips me for real.

Further Posting:


  • Roy Christopher (author) said:

    My friend Mark Wieman found this on Dusted Magazine:

    Thelonious Monk in the movie Straight, No Chaser:
    Have you guys noticed that Benicio Del Toro based his character Fenster from The Usual Suspects on Monk in this film? He totally did, check it out. There’s even one point where they both say “I’ll flip you- flip you for real.”

    I am now officially sanguine that I am indeed sane.

  • Steve said:

    I am so glad somebody else has noticed this. Being a huge fan of The Usual Suspects, I almost ‘flipped’ when I heard Monk say that line in the documentary. I only just saw ‘Straight, No Chaser’ about 6 months ago, but I have been thinking about that line ever since and wondered if it was a coincidence, part of the screenplay/script or if DelToro just improvised that line. Thanks for correlating these!