Texas bar owner Julian Marty, who is generally regarded as not a nice person, hires shady private detective Loren Visser, who is able to obtain what Marty requests evidence - in this instance, photographic - that his wife, Abby, and one of his bartenders, Ray, are having an affair. As Ray and Abby realize that Marty has found out about them, it allows them to plan for their future away from Marty, while be up front with Marty about the situation. Marty, in turn, decides to hire Visser once again, this time to kill Abby and Ray, and dispose of their bodies so that they won't be found. The out in the open affair and the contract hit lead to some actions based on self interest, and a standoff of sorts between the four players, which is compounded in complexity by some wrong assumptions of what has happened, with an innocent bystander, another of the Marty's bartenders, Meurice, potentially and unwittingly adding to the scenario.Written by
Phone continues to ring after Abby picks it up. See more »
Private Detective Visser:
The world is full o' complainers. An' the fact is, nothin' comes with a guarantee. Now I don't care if you're the pope of Rome, President of the United States or Man of the Year; somethin' can all go wrong. Now go on ahead, y'know, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help, 'n watch him fly. Now, in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else... that's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas, an' down here... ...
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Opening credits list the main cast, but none of the crew. All of the crew credits are at the end of the film, starting with Joel Coen as director. See more »
For the 1998 restoration, the Coen brothers not only remixed and re-recorded new sound effects for the stereo soundtrack, but made some minor trims to various scenes and dialog:
Maurice asking a bar patron at the jukebox what night it is and realizing it's "Yankee Night", he explains he's from Detroit, thus justifying his intervention of the patron's musical selection.
Ray sticking his cigarette in the stuffed warthog's nose at Marty's house, and the following lines: RAY: You gonna leave all this stuff? ABBY: It's all Marty's.
After Marty suggests to the P.I. the "incinerator" as a means of destroying the evidence of his proposed murder, the P.I.'s line: "Sweet Jesus, you're disgusting!" is deleted.
A couple lines from the landlady showing Abby the studio apartment (mainly assuring her Abby won't be bothered at that location) before she starts yelling at her ex-brother-in-law, are deleted.
As Marty opens his safe to retrieve the bounty money (and swap the photo) his line: "This is an illicit affair" has been removed, although he can still be seen mouthing it.
When the P.I. shoots Marty, a couple shots are removed of Marty and the P.I. staring at each other after the gunshot.
When Ray and Abby are discussing "what happened", in her studio apartment, and Ray feels cold enough to rise from his seat, the shot of him steadying the walrus piggy-bank is removed and his dialog is heard off-screen to cover this change.
When Abby goes to see Maurice about her concerns, the scene cuts as soon as she enters. In the original version, the scene continues and she is seen inside his place and he pours a drink while assuring her that Marty is not dead, even though she is very worried that he is. Some of the dialog from inside the house is placed over the shot outside Maurice's door before Abby goes in, in the 1998 version.
A new page of credits is added at the end, covering the restoration.
This film is the Coen brothers' homage to the great noir thrillers of the golden age. Cheating spouses, feckless private dicks, mistaken identities, a bundle of dirty cash are rendered to their bare essence in the mess of rotting fish sitting on Marty's desk. The film is notable as much for the audacity of the Coen brothers in getting it made as it is for its success in turning the broad, open expanses of west texas into a claustrophobia unknown even to Saddam in his spider hole. It appears the Coens made five minutes of the film to show to investors, though they had absolutely no idea what the rest of the film would look like. They basically sold the mood of the film, and their efforts bore fruit. The film established the Coen brothers as a creative force and Frances McDormand as a rising art house star whose journey would eventually garner Oscar for the Coens' "Fargo." I rate it highly for visual appeal, intelligent story and good sheer suspense and terror.
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