It’s been over 35 years since the release of “Blood Simple,” a film noir classic where we were introduced to the brilliance of the Coen Brothers as a director/producer team. It’s now streaming on HBO and is definitely worth your time. If you’ve seen it before, you’ll know this film is always worth a re-watch. And for newcomers you’ll get to see many of the techniques the Coen brothers used throughout their amazing career.
The film is set deep in the heart of Texas, with a jealous saloon owner who wants to kill his younger wife and her lover. He hires a cheap divorce detective to do the job, but the detective has other ideas, and things unravel from there.
The film makes the viewer uneasy from the start. You know there’s trouble ahead, and the story delivers. There’s violence and plenty of twists and turns in the story. It has some very funny moments, which becomes a signature element of the Coen brothers. The dark humor adds to the fun for a film that is a must-see for film noir fans. The story and plot twists work well here due to attention to detail. You believe that all of this is plausible, which is critical to this type of story.
In this clip, Joel and Ethan Coen are interviewed about “Blood Simple” soon after its release, discussing the cast and the making of the film.
I was struck by the performance of a young Frances McDormand, who was naturally brilliant in the film. She got the part after her friend Holly Hunter couldn’t take the role. Here a great clip where she discusses the film. She’s part of a brilliant cast led by Dan Hedaya as Julian Marty and veteran character actor M. Emmet Walsh as Private Detective Loren Visser.
The film launched the career of the Coen Brothers. Here’s how Bullz-Eye.com described their career:
Making their debut with a thriller (1984’s “Blood Simple”) and naturally fearful of being typecast, the Coens quickly set out to establish that they will never make the same movie twice, following “Blood Simple” with a screwball comedy (“Raising Arizona”), a gangster movie (“Miller’s Crossing”), and, well, whatever you want to call “Barton Fink.” By this time, everyone knew what ‘a Coen brothers movie’ meant (even if they had no idea what their next story would be), and while they had their choice of the cream of the crop, the Coens continued to fill their movies with actors, not movie stars. If one actor happened to be both (Paul Newman, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt), well, that was a bonus, but they clearly have a fondness for character actors. It is not a coincidence that John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, John Mahoney, Richard Jenkins, Charles Durning and Stephen Root have all appeared in multiple Coen brothers movies.
Check out “Blood Simple” for a brilliant crime thriller and check out the original trailer.