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Blood Simple

Blood Simple

Director:Joel Coen
Cast:Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh, Frances McDormand, John Getz
Release Date:1984
Genre:Drama, Noir, Suspense

At the Current Gallery at 8 p.m. Feb. 1

By Ian Grey | Posted 2/1/2006

Joel and Ethan Coen’s first feature, 1984’s Blood Simple, is not quite a great film. As stylish, smart, and funny as it is, 97 tense minutes of superb film devoted solely to proving the innate loathsomeness of the human race is inherently a bit limiting. Still, the theatrical release of the Coens’ “director’s cut”—including a mordant new introductory sequence, stereo sound, and some general editing—offers a second look at an integral entry in both the filmmakers’ and film noir’s history. Simple introduces us to despicable small-town strip-bar owner Marty (Dan Hedaya), who hires detective Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh, oozing contempt) to prove that Marty’s vaguely slutty wife, Abby (Frances McDormand), is fucking around with dim-bulb bar employee Ray (John Getz). The private dick gets the goods on the affair but decides to double-cross Marty and shoots him. Hapless Ray finds Marty’s (seemingly) lifeless body, and the film jettisons its noir trappings to become a self-aware horror film: Bodies refuse to stay dead, blood gushes like nobody’s business. All this is accomplished with a level of stylistic bravura that’s astonishing.

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