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Past Films

Blood Simple (1985)

  • Starring: Frances McDormand, John Getz
  • Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
  • Genre(s): Drama, Thriller, Crime
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 99 min.

Essential Coen Brothers
This new quarterly series showcases the “essential” films everyone should see on the big screen. For each month-long program, we’ll screen five films organized by one of the following themes: directors, actors, genres, and eras/movements.

Essential tickets are $9 for Adults, $8 for Students/Seniors and Members get in Free!

Joel and Ethan Coen’s career-long darkly comic road trip through misfit America began with this razor-sharp, hard-boiled neonoir set somewhere in Texas, where a sleazy bar owner releases a torrent of violence with one murderous thought. Actor M. Emmet Walsh looms over the proceedings as a slippery private eye with a yellow suit, a cowboy hat, and no moral compass, and Frances McDormand’s cunning debut performance set her on the road to stardom. The tight scripting and inventive style that have marked the Coens’ work for decades are all here in their first film, in which cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld abandons black-and-white chiaroscuro for neon signs and jukebox colors that combine with Carter Burwell’s haunting score to lurid and thrilling effect. Blending elements from pulp fiction and low-budget horror flicks, Blood Simple reinvented the film noir for a new generation, marking the arrival of a filmmaking ensemble that would transform the American independent cinema scene.
[Criterion]

Summary: Deep in the heart of Texas, a sleazy bar owner suspects his wife of having an affair and hires a private detective to confirm his suspicions—only to have the crosshairs turned back on himself. [Janus Films]

"It's a trailblazing masterpiece in any form."
- Mike D'Angelo, AV Club
"It's the boys' most immediately gratifying movie: The goods are delivered in a hearse."
- Wesley Morris, San Francisco Examiner
"Filled with wonderful performances, especially by Hedaya and Walsh, Blood Simple remains a tight, beautifully ugly, neo-noir classic."
- Kim Morgan, Portland Oregonian
"Grisly, stylish and often weirdly funny, Blood Simple is a reminder of how rarely an original artistic sensibility is announced to the world and how much better movies are when that sensibility is allowed to keep going its own way."
- Ann Hornaday, Baltimore Sun
"Watching this beautiful restoration of "Blood Simple" I was actually struck by how non-bleak it is, how much the strength of the film lies in images of beauty, defiance and survival."
- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
"The Coens, then as now, are alive to the possibilities of movies. Savor their technique and the sizzling performances of Frances McDormand as an adulterous wife, Dan Hedaya as her vengeful husband and M. Emmet Walsh as a private detective from hell."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"Blood Simple becomes a dazzling comedie noire, a dynamic, virtuoso display by a couple of talented fledgling filmmakers who give the conventions of the genre such a thorough workout that the result is a movie that's fresh and exhilarating (in the way that Jean-Jacques Beineix’s “Diva” was). "
- Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

Showtimes