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Blood Simple

This father of "Fargo" is a classic crime caper with a twist of comic creepiness.


"The boring things have been taken out, and other things have been added," the narrator tells in his mocking intro to the re-release of this 1984 film. And he must be right. This taut and exhilarating Southern noir thriller unravels the story of a jealous Texas saloon owner (Dan Hedaya) who hires a private detective to kill his wife (Frances McDormand) and her lover (John Getz). It's disturbing enough watching a well-executed crime, but when the dumb and the dumber go homicidal, it's downright horrifying.


This ensemble led by a younger and more glamorous McDormand works meanly and leanly, foregoing showy dramatics for convincingly creepy characterization. Hedaya fits as the oily sleaze bag, a role he's made a career out of playing (most recently in "Shaft"). The real standout here is M. Emmet Walsh, who provides the film's funniest and creepiest flourishes as the private dick turned clumsy killer.


In their feature film debut, Joel and Ethan Coen craft a dark, raw thriller sure to make you gasp and squirm. As with their Oscar-winning "Fargo", the brothers exploit the terror of a botched crime and unqualified criminals. "Blood Simple" is rich and complex. Think Hitchcock crossed with "Knots Landing" during the glory days of the nighttime soap. In this director's cut, the Coen Brothers have shortened the film, remixed the audio and restored the print.

Bottom Line

"Blood" is still fresh.


Starring John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, Samm-Art Williams and M. Emmet Walsh.

Directed by Joel Coen. Produced by Ethan Coen. Written by Joel and Ethan Coen. Released by USA Films.