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Blood Simple (1984)

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A rich but jealous man hires a private investigator to kill his cheating wife and her new man. But, when blood is involved, nothing is simple.

Directors:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)

Writers:

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Reviews
Popularity
3,325 ( 594)

A Guide to the Films of the Coen Brothers

From Blood Simple to the new The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, we take a look at the offbeat stylings of Academy Award-winners Joel and Ethan Coen.

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5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Getz ... Ray
Frances McDormand ... Abby
Dan Hedaya ... Julian Marty
M. Emmet Walsh ... Private Detective Loren Visser
Samm-Art Williams Samm-Art Williams ... Meurice
Deborah Neumann Deborah Neumann ... Debra
Raquel Gavia Raquel Gavia ... Landlady
Van Brooks Van Brooks ... Man from Lubbock
Señor Marco Señor Marco ... Mr. Garcia
William Creamer William Creamer ... Old Cracker
Loren Bivens Loren Bivens ... Strip Bar Exhorter
Bob McAdams Bob McAdams ... Strip Bar Senator
Shannon Sedwick Shannon Sedwick ... Stripper
Nancy Finger Nancy Finger ... Girl on Overlook
William Preston Robertson William Preston Robertson ... Radio Evangelist (voice) (as Rev. William Preston Robertson)
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The first film by Joel and Ethan Coen (2016 Re-Release) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

18 January 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Simplemente sangre See more »

Filming Locations:

Pflugerville, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$42,971, 9 July 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,150,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo (original version)| Dolby Digital (director's cut)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot over a period of 8 weeks. See more »

Goofs

When Visser (the detective) is sitting at the table in the bar across from Marty (the first time) he lights his cigarette with his lighter and a shot shows his hand putting the lighter on the table. The hand looks like that of a younger man, and the huge ring on Visser's right hand is missing in that shot. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Private Detective Visser: [narrating] 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... ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Alternate Versions

In the original theatrical version, as well as the version shown on TV, the Four Tops song "It's the Same Old Song" is played on the jukebox and over the end credits. In the video version it is "I'm a Believer" by Neil Diamond. See more »


Soundtracks

El Sueno
By Camilo Namen
Performed by Johnny Ventura y su Combo
Courtesy of Rico Records
See more »

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User Reviews

A great early Cohen film where the claustrophobic heat and tension seep from the screen
27 May 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Abby is cheating on husband Marty with his employee Ray. Unbeknownst to them, Marty has had the pair followed and caught in the act by an odious private detective. With Marty rejected he turns to the detective with an offer of money to kill the cheating lovers and dispose of the bodies. The detective accepts and, with Marty out of town to ensure an alibi, the plan seems so clear and simple to execute. However, where blood is involved, nothing ever runs smoothly or simple.

Watching No Country for Old Men recently put me in mind of Blood Simple and gave me an excuse to watch it again for the first time in about a decade. I was glad that I did because, although it is very slimmed down, all the themes and standards that continue with the Cohen brothers down the years. The film is a modern noir-ish crime thriller with a contained set of circumstances bringing death and ruin to all involved. The story is engaging but it does have holes within it but they are not serious enough to affect the flow. What carries it through everything though is the visual style and feel given to the film by the Cohen's. From the opening sequence in the car to the ever present roar of the incinerator to the sweating, cackling presence of the detective, the sparse dialogue just doesn't matter because of the delivery. As with No Country, you can feel the oppressive heat and tension in each scene and it makes for a satisfying film.

The cast play to this heat and tension with contained but tense performances. The standout is Walsh, whose sweaty moral void is the heart of the film. Hedaya is almost as good in a smaller role. The two "lead" characters suffer a little from being less interesting but nevertheless both Getz and McDormand are good. Blood Simple is a tight and short film with limited dialogue and little in the way of quick action. However what it does have is a wonderful sense of Texas and crime. The slow pace adds to the claustrophobic feel of heat, which in turns adds to the tension and the constant presence of death in the air. Amazing to think the Cohen brothers started getting it so right so early in their careers.


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