Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Watching Blood Simple is like seeing the Coen brothers before they were the Coen brothers. You can watch them slowly find themselves during the course of this movie with little signature touches here and there, where they are obviously toying around with certain imagery and themes that will become their trademark. The story of this movie, like many great later Coen brothers movies such as Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country For Old Men, and others is that of people who are not natural criminals finding themselves through a series of justifiable decisions, in a world they are not prepared to deal with. In Blood Simple John Getz and Frances McDormand’s characters (Ray and Abby) engage in an affair that does not escape the notice of one Julian Marty, played by Dan Hedaya, who is husband to McDormand’s character and boss of Getz’s character, who works at a local bar that has a conveniently located incinerator out behind the business. Marty gets suspicious and hires a local private dick played by M. Emmet Walsh to deal with this situation. Everything else that occurs results from understandable, but foolish decisions that everyone in this situation will make. In the meantime, as I said, the joy of this movie is seeing the Coen brothers find their style in this early period, and noting how they already have such a keen eye for using great character actors such as Walsh and Hedaya. There’s also a lot of great use of music and sound in this movie such as a classic scene involving the tune “Same Old Song” by the Foundations that I have had stuck in my memory ever since the first time I saw this movie way back when. While it may not be quite on the level of some of their later work, this is still a very elemental and dark piece of neo-noir/horror film making that absolutely deserves to be seen.