Red Harvest -Texas Style-The Coen Brother’s “Blood Simple” (1984)-A Film Review
By Film Critic Sam Lowell
Blood Simple, starring Francis McDormand, John Getz. Dan Heyada, M. Emmet Walsh, directed by the Coen Brothers, 1984
Anybody who as a kid like me, or even adults now that I think about the matter, who immersed themselves in the old time crime novels by the likes of Dashiell Hammett and Mickey Spillane, or even today’s better graphic novels knows that the success of the endeavor was to pile up the bodies and ask questions later. Keep the action, keep the guns firing. That premise, what that does to those under constant violent threat, that “red harvest,” to take a title from one of Hammett’s early crime novels is what drives the film under review, Blood Simple, on the screen where much less is left to the imagination about what all that firepower was about.
Here’s the blood simple play. Abby, played by Frances McDormand, and Ray, played by John Getz, one of her husband Marty’s bartenders are lovers. Marty, played by Dan Heyada, hired private investigator Visser, played by M. Emmet Walsh to follow them. He gets the “skinny” on them complete with photographs. Then the madness-the skewing of reason among the parties when Marty hires Visser to kill Abby and John. Visser fakes their deaths and shows Marty doctored photos after grabbing ten thou from him for the job. Then he shoots Marty thinking he had killed him. Marty is left in his chair as Visser flees the scene. Ray shows up to collect his back pay and finds Marty slumped over presumably dead. Ray figuring the unhappy Abby had committed the deed decided to clean up her mess. But Marty is not dead at least not as Ray is driving away with his body. Marty tries to shoot Ray but fires empty cylinders and Ray subdues and buries that guy alive.
Thereafter Abby and Ray think they were covering for each other but let those suspicions get in the way. Meantime Visser, worried that he might take a fall for the “death” of Marty starts covering his tracks. Tries and does kill Ray. Tries and does not kill Abby who winds up killing him thinking that he was Marty. Jesus. Yeah, here is the text book definition of blood simple-pure and simple.