Blood Simple

Blood Simple

Criterion Collection Edition #834

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.

Blood Simple
  • Blood Simple

    Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen • 1984 • United States

    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 though...


  • BLOOD SIMPLE Edition Intro

  • The Viewer Who Knew Just Enough: Point of View in BLOOD SIMPLE

    With their razor-sharp debut BLOOD SIMPLE, Joel and Ethan Coen introduced the world to their striking sensibility and redefined film noir for a new generation. In this edition of Observations on Film Art, Professor David Bordwell explores how the brothers employ a sophisticated shuffling of viewp...

  • Megan Abbott on BLOOD SIMPLE

  • Bill Hader on BLOOD SIMPLE

  • Guillermo del Toro on BLOOD SIMPLE

  • Janus Films at the Castro Theatre

    In 2016, to mark Janus Films’ sixtieth anniversary, filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, DP Barry Sonnenfeld, and Peter Becker and Jonathan Turell of Janus and the Criterion Collection sat down with critic Scott Foundas at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre to discuss the history of the two companies and ...

  • BLOOD SIMPLE Storyboards

    This 2016 piece by photographer Grant Delin compares scenes from BLOOD SIMPLE with their original storyboards. Featuring commentary by the Coen brothers, DP Barry Sonnenfeld, and actor Frances McDormand, this fascinating glimpse at the Coens’ team’s creative process highlights the careful plannin...

  • Shooting BLOOD SIMPLE

    Joel and Ethan Coen tapped Barry Sonnenfeld to photograph their debut feature—a first for the cinematographer as well, as he had never shot on 35 mm film before. In May 2016, the three sat down to discuss and illustrate the film’s lighting and design, and to talk about some mistakes they felt the...

  • Dave Eggers and the Coen Brothers on BLOOD SIMPLE

    Author, screenwriter, and publisher Dave Eggers sat down with Joel and Ethan Coen in May 2016 to discuss the directors’ debut film, BLOOD SIMPLE—from its initial inspiration and their efforts to get its production off the ground through the complicated process of finding a distributor.

  • Frances McDormand on BLOOD SIMPLE

    Actor Frances McDormand auditioned for BLOOD SIMPLE on the recommendation of her friend Holly Hunter, and the part of Abby Marty became her first feature role. In this interview from June 2016, McDormand offers insight into the Coen brothers’ creative process and discusses how the film changed he...

  • M. Emmet Walsh on BLOOD SIMPLE

    Joel and Ethan Coen wrote BLOOD SIMPLE with M. Emmet Walsh in mind for the role of private detective Loren Visser, after seeing his performance as a parole officer in 1978’s STRAIGHT TIME. In this June 2016 interview, Walsh looks back on his experiences with the first-time filmmakers, including h...

  • Sound and Music and the Coens

    Composer Carter Burwell and sound editor Skip Lievsay began working with the Coen brothers on BLOOD SIMPLE, and they’ve all continued to collaborate ever since. In this program from May 2016, they reflect on their early work together and discuss the Coens’ approach to music and sound design.

  • BLOOD SIMPLE Fund-Raising Trailer

  • BLOOD SIMPLE Original Trailer