Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell of Janus Films and the Criterion Collection and Blood Simple writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen expected to attend.
The Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song” plays more than once on the soundtrack of Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1984 debut feature, until it comes to seem like a sardonic commentary on the action—an invigorating blast of dime-store pulp (Hammett, Chandler, Cain) that suggests some things never change, at least when a man, a woman and a gun are involved. We are in a tumbleweed Texas town suspended in time, where the lives of a swarthy bar owner (Dan Hedaya), his wife (Frances McDormand), her lover (John Getz) and a cackling private eye (the sublime M. Emmet Walsh) collide in a classical nexus of jealousy and double-crosses. And if you haven’t seen Blood Simple before, then, to quote the movie itself, “the less you know about it the better.” Though small of budget ($1.5 million), Blood Simple bristles with unbridled moviemaking brio and the Coens’ trademark mordant humor (in one scene, as the camera dollies down the length of the bar, it booms up, then down, to evade a passed-out patron). It is also, not least, a very handy primer on what not to do if one stumbles upon a bloody crime scene. —Scott Foundas