BLOOD SIMPLEUnited States-1984

Directed by Joel Coen

Written by Joel and Ethan Coen

There are two ways that you can look at Blood Simple and both ways would be correct. The first is that it’s one of the greatest debut films ever made. The other is that it’s the best ‘you’re screwing my wife and by golly you’re going to pay’ film made in quite a long time. You literally need a score card to keep track of the crosses and double crosses in this film. Let’s see, Ray is sleeping with his boss’ wife, Abby. Marty, the boss, wants both of them dead. So he hires Loren Visser, a private detective to do the dirty deed dirt cheap for the tune of $10,000.00. I’m stopping right there. I’ve said way too much already and God knows who might be watching. Simply put, Blood Simple is a magnificent piece of film noir that could only come from the mind of Joel and Ethan Coen.

All that aside, what I enjoyed most about the film was spotting the little things that have become trademarks of the classic Coen Brothers films. For instance, at the beginning, we hear the narration of M. Emmet Walsh in the same way we hear the narration of Sam Elliot at the beginning of The Big Lebowski (1998), and Tommy Jones at the start of No Country for Old Men (2007). It’s no accident that all three characters are southern. How about the scene in the field when we see the overhead shot of the car as Ray tries, at first unsuccessfully, to start his car? Put him in an empty parking lot and add some snow and you’ve got the scene with William H. Macy in Fargo (1996)What about the mysterious car trailing Ray near the end? Again, I refer you to The Big Lebowski. I’m certain that there are other things that I might have missed, but I haven’t watched every Coen Brothers film. At least, not yet I haven’t, but that’s another tale for another time. The bottom line is that Blood Simple is not only a brilliant debut, it’s just brilliant, period.


A teaser trailer for the film was shot long before the movie was in production. It featured Bruce Campbell (filling in for the role later played by Dan Hedaya) bloody and crawling down the road, just like the movie.

Holly Hunter had auditioned for the role of Abby, but turned it down because she was performing a play in New York at the same time. So she encouraged her roommateFrances McDormand to go and audition for the role.

The title is based on a phrase from the Dashiell Hammett novel ‘Red Harvest’, in which “blood simple” is a term coined to describe the addled, fearful mindset people are in after a prolonged immersion in violent situations.