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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
3,897 ( 165)

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.

Dude, let's go bowling

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

Officially, the title is spelled with a period at the end - it appears this way on screen. Most television listings and video releases leave the period off. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film, when Ray is looking out the window of Abby's dark apartment, she can be seen in the background standing near the door. Moments later, she is in the hallway approaching the door and unlocking it. 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

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.
See more »


Soundtracks

Anahi
Performed by Maria Luisa Buchino and her Llameros
Courtesy of Monitor Records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Coens' first great piece of cinema
16 July 2008 | by MaxBorg89See all my reviews

As far as directorial debuts go, few are as ambitious and inventive as the Coen brothers' first film, Blood Simple, as it mixes genres and moods in a way that anticipated Tarantino's similar experiments by a decade, while still retaining an apparent simplicity, both narratively and formally, that few people originally saw as the beginning of one of American cinema's most extraordinary careers.

Set in a stark Texas landscape, Blood Simple opens on a premise that seems to be borrowed from the likes of Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice: someone steals another man's wife. However, the two adulterous lovers (Jamie Getz and Frances McDormand) do not plan to assassinate the betrayed husband (Dan Hedaya). On the contrary, he hires a sleazy PI (M. Emmett Walsh) to spy on them to carry out some twisted plan of his own. That is, until the investigator goes rogue and the situation escalates in the most grotesque of ways.

This escalation is matched by the Coens' constant shifts between genres, achieved through lighting, music and camera movements. Noir, straightforward thriller, horror, black comedy: Blood Simple is each of these and all of them at once, but the transition is never forced or unnatural; in fact, these transitions occur because somehow the story itself demands that they happen. In a way, this is a film that is aware of its own fictitious nature and toys with it as much as possible - because it can. This has since become a trademark of the two brothers, and it is as fresh and original now as it was back in 1984.

The same can be said of the four main actors: Getz and McDormand (soon to be Mrs. Joel Coen) form a solid leading couple, thoroughly menaced by the sudden ferocity of Hedaya, then best known for playing Rhea Perlman's dim-witted ex-husband on Cheers (an image he gladly, and expertly, reverses here). And then there's Walsh, who takes his practically identical role in Blade Runner and increases the character's unlikability, turning in one of the most brutally charming villainous performances of the '80s (and of the Coen canon).

Joel and Ethan Coen had a very clear idea of what they wanted to achieve in the movie business from the get-go, and Blood Simple is one of the best examples of this: for 90 minutes, it takes you to a whole new world, one that most people are happy to revisit as often as they can.


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