Great Scene: “No Country For Old Men”

Scott Myers
4 min readDec 3, 2022

“You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t even be right.”

The coin toss scene from No Country For Old Men (2007), screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, one of the most riveting scenes in the movie.

Here is the scene from the movie:

As I was reading through the scene, I was thinking that if a student handed me these script pages, I would have most likely suggested they trim it. After all, it is 7 pages long. What’s the point of the scene? The coin toss. How long does it take to get to the coin toss? 5 pages. Do you really need all that business up front before the coin toss?

But looking at the scene as it was shot (its actual screen time is 4:25), we can see at least one big reason why the Coens wanted the scene to play out with that lengthy run-up of dialogue before the coin toss: Chigurh’s sense of who deserves to live and who deserves to die extends to everyone he meets.

At first, he gets agitated by the Proprietor’s prying questions (even though they’re…