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Blood Simple

An inordinately good low-budget film noir thriller, Blood Simple is written, directed and produced by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.

An inordinately good low-budget film noir thriller, Blood Simple is written, directed and produced by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.

Aside from the subtle performances, usually lacking in a film of this size (around $1.5 million), the observant viewer will find a cornucopia of detail.

Dan Hedaya plays Marty, a brooding owner of a Texas bar. Hedaya hires a sleazy, onerous malcreant named Visser (played with appropriate malice by M. Emmet Walsh) to kill his wayward wife and her boyfriend Ray (John Getz).

Walsh takes a snapshot of the lovers asleep in bed, doctors the photo to make it appear he’s fulfilled the contract, and meets Hedaya at the bar after hours to collect. Upon payment, Walsh pulls out the wife’s gun and shoots Marty dead in the chest. But the victim has swapped the photo and put it in the office safe before his demise, making Walsh’s perfect crime not so. Final confrontation between Walsh and the lovers is outright horrific.

Performances are top-notch all around, Walsh in particular conveying the villainy and scummy aspects of his character with convincing glee.

Blood Simple

  • Production: River Road. Director Joel Coen; Producer Ethan Coen; Screenplay Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; Camera Barry Sonnenfeld; Editor Roderick Jaynes, Don Wiegmann; Music Carter Burwell; Art Director Jane Musky
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1984. Running time: 97 MIN.
  • With: John Getz Frances McDormand Dan Hedaya Samm-Art Williams M. Emmet Walsh
  • Music By: