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Film Studies 101
Feature
Become A Film Noir Expert In Ten Easy Movies
Master a genre in just a handful of films

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Become A Film Noir Expert In Ten Easy Movies | Blood Simple (1984)
Blood Simple (1984)

Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
Cast: Frances McDormand, John Getz, Dan Hedaya, M. Emmet Walsh
Tagline: “Dead in the heart of Texas”

When the New York Times’ film critic described this neo-noir as “a directorial debut of extraordinary promise”, it turned out to be a bit of an understatement. The Coen brothers fulfilled that promise, and then some, revisiting film noir regularly along the way, with Barton Fink, Fargo, Miller’s Crossing and The Man Who Wasn’t There swelling the canon's ranks of ratfinks, doomed loners and moral crusaders. Their first noir carried the genre from its claustrophobic urban backdrop and dumped it in Texas's vast open spaces, splicing it with Western DNA and setting it free in a venal world where your best friend and your worst enemy would become one for a sniff of a dollar bill. As narrator M. Emmet Walsh explains: “In Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else. What I know about is Texas... down here, you're on your own.” Walsh’s private eye hardly helps things when he takes jealous barkeep Dan Hedaya’s dime to track down and kill his cheating wife (McDormand) and her lover (Getz). The setting is a small town in the Lone Star state, where a grimy, back-alley bar ends splattered in blood, but the location that stays with you involves a shallow grave in a ploughed field halfway to Nowheresville.

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