From "Inside Llewyn Davis," left to right: Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver, whose character, folk musician Al Cody, actually has the surname "Milgrom."
For most of his 90 years, Minneapolis film lover Al Milgrom tirelessly promoted indie movies from all over the world. Now the longtime former director of the University Film Society has been immortalized in a new work by the state's most famous moviemakers, Joel and Ethan Coen.
In "Inside Llewyn Davis," set in the Greenwich Village folkie scene of the '60s, a cowboy singer played by Adam Driver has the stage name of "Al Cody," but an envelope addressed to him reveals that his real name is "Al Milgrom." The character tells Llewyn Davis he's going to have it legally changed to match his stage name.
When reached for comment, Milgrom, who hadn't yet heard, said "WHAT?" then was typically self-effacing.
"I take it as a high compliment but it sort of surprises me," he said. "I wouldn't think I'd be involved in their universe. How do they remember all this stuff?"
Saying that the way his name was worked into the movie "sounds pretty convoluted," he speculated that maybe the Coens meant to reference a different Al Milgrom, "the one who drew for Marvel Comics."
It's true the Coens were comics fans. But given all the other local name-checking the Coens have previously done onscreen -- including calling WIlliam H. Macy's "Fargo" car salesman "Jerry Lundegaard" after longtime Star Tribune movie critic Bob Lundegaard and using the name of Mike Zoss, who owned the drugstore they hung out at as kids, in more than one film as well as naming their production company after him -- we're betting they are paying homage to OUR Al (see below).
Al Milgrom in 2006, hard at work prepping for a film festival. Photo by Richard Sennott.