When a bar owner discovers that one of his employees is having an affair with his wife, a complex web of deceit and double crosses ensues in a small Texas town. The Coen brothers' first picture is an intricately plotted film noir filled with surprises at each turn. The cast, largely unkown at the time, includes Dan Hedaya as the cuckolded bar owner, Frances McDormand as the cheating wife, John Getz as the adultering bartender, and the fabulously creepy M. Emmett Walsh as the slimy, sweaty private detective who should not be trusted. The film is a marvel to experience; director of photography Barry Sonnenfeld has created stunning compositions filled with open spaces, and the sound--from the slightest footsteps or dripping water to a sudden shotgun blast--reverberates ominously, as if it is a character unto itself. Directed by Joel Coen and cowritten by Joel and his brother Ethan, BLOOD SIMPLE is an eerie testament to the limitless possibilities of low-budget filmmaking.
Carter Burwell - American composer, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Ethan Coen - American producer/screenwriter/director
John Getz - American Supporting Actor
Frances McDormand - American Actress
Dan Hedaya - American TV/Film Actor
Joel Coen - American director/screenwriter/producer
Barry Sonnenfeld - American Director of Photography/Director
Don Wiegmann - Editor of BLOOD SIMPLE, Coen brothers
Samm-Art Williams - Actor/Writer
M. Emmet Walsh - American Character Actor
Michael Emmet Walsh - American Character Actor
Roderick Jaynes - Coen brothers pseudonym: created this fake editor as a prank
BLOOD SIMPLE is a bizarre crime story about a seedy Texas bar owner who devises a plot to have his own wife and her lover murdered. What results is a chaotic chain of misunderstandings, lies, and mischief. The first feature film from the Coen brothers, who went on to direct the explosive hits RAISING ARIZONA, FARGO, and THE BIG LEBOWSKI, this movie is a must-see for film noir buffs and Coen brothers fans alike.
BLOOD SIMPLE is the debut of filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. The pair have collaborated on several films since the making of BLOOD SIMPLE; they include RAISING ARIZONA (1987), MILLER'S CROSSING (1990) and BARTON FINK (1991). Ethan and Joel write the screenplays for their films together, then Ethan produces the film and Joel directs it. The Coens consider BLOOD SIMPLE the first of their "hayseed" trilogy; the other two are RAISING ARIZONA and O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? In 1984 BLOOD SIMPLE was shown at both the New York Film Festival and the Independent Feature Film Market. The film appeared on several prestigious lists of top ten films in 1985, including Time Magazine, USA Today and The Washington Post. It was also honored as one of the year's best pictures by The National Board of Review. It was released to theaters nationally the following year. BLOOD SIMPLE was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in its inaugural year. The director's cut released in July 2000 has no additional footage; in fact, it is actually slightly shorter than the original. Ethan Coen explained it by saying, "The idea is, we've taken out some of the boring parts." The movie was shot in DuArt color in 48 days on location in Austin, Texas. The first voice heard on Meurice's answering machine is that of Holly Hunter. The Coens wrote the role of the private detective specifically for character actor extraordinaire M. Emmet Walsh. At one point, Walsh's character was going to be known as Todor Zivkov Jr. Roderick Jaynes, the editor, is a fictional person that the Coen brothers invented as both a pseudonym and a prank. They edited the film themselves. Director and co-writer Ethan Coen is married to Frances McDormand, who won an Oscar for her starring role in the Coen brothers' film FARGO. Joel Coen is credited as an assistant editor on Sam Raimi's cult classic THE EVIL DEAD (1983). Raimi is somewhat of a mentor to the Coens. BLOOD SIMPLE was Director of Photography Barry Sonnenfeld's first film; he went on to direct such hits as MEN IN BLACK and GET SHORTY. Cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld later went on to become a director. THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1992) was his first directorial assignment. Prior to making films, Ethan Coen was a statistical typist at Macy's.
"...Unpredictable at every turn..." - 07/01/2000 Premiere, p.22
"Black humor, abundant originality and a brilliant visual style....A directorial debut of extraordinary promise..." - 01/18/1985 New York Times, p.C6
"...Terrific....[The] performances are top-notch all around....A colorful, moody piece with a texture that's very true-to-life..." - 05/23/1984 Variety
"...BLOOD SIMPLE becomes a dazzling comedie noire, a dynamic, virtuoso display by a couple of talented fledgling film makers who give the conventions of the genre such a thorough workout that the result is a movie that's fresh and exhilarating..." - 02/28/1985 Los Angeles Times, p.C1
"...The film itself remains sublime..." - 03/01/2001 Sight and Sound, p.63
5 stars out of 5 -- "Welcome to the birth of the most inventive US directors of the past 30 years." - 06/01/2013 Total Film
4 stars out of 4 -- "The genius of BLOOD SIMPLE is that everything that happens seems necessary. The movie's a blood-soaked nightmare in which greed and lust trap the characters in escalating horror." - 07/14/2000 RogerEbert.com
"[A]ny excuse to see the Coens magnificently moody neo-noir on the big screen is welcome....Its a trailblazing masterpiece..." -- Grade: A - 06/29/2016 A.V. Club