Blood Simple

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With their debut feature film, the entertainingly nasty noir Blood Simple, Joel and Ethan Coen announced to moviegoers everywhere that they’d better buckle up for a very bumpy ride. Blood Simple is the blackest, “noir-iest” of film noirs – a twisted homage to the classic crime thrillers of the ‘40s, shot through with that distinctly offbeat Coen mojo. Yes, there’s plenty of blood to be sure, but things are seldom simple, although the premise is straightforward enough. Marty, a wealthy Texas bar owner (Dan Hedaya), discovers his unhappy wife, Abby (Frances McDormand), is having an affair with his sympathetic bartender, Ray (John Getz), so he hires a most unsavory private detective (M. Emmet Walsh, giving the performance of a lifetime as one of the sleaziest, sweatiest private eyes ever to ooze across the screen) to bump them off. So begins a calculating round of diabolical double and triple crosses that build to a shocking, bloodcurdling climax in which seemingly everyone involved is both a potential victim AND a killer. In Blood Simple, the Coen Brothers reinvent the noir genre and parlay a pearl-handled revolver, a misplaced lighter, a string of not-so-fresh fish, and a body that refuses to stay dead into a dark delight that is clever, suspenseful, and sometimes downright bizarre. Winner of the 1985 Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and stylishly shot by future Coen collaborator Barry Soddenfeld, Blood Simple is an evil-minded masterpiece that brought an invigorating new vision to the world of indie cinema. (Dir. by Joel Coen, 1984, USA, 99 mins., Rated R) 35mm