The career-long darkly comic road trip through misfit America of Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) began with this razor-sharp, hard-boiled neonoir set somewhere in Texas, where a sleazy bar owner sets off a torrent of violence with one murderous thought. Actor M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner) looms over the proceedings as the slippery private eye with a yellow suit, a cowboy hat and no moral compass, and Frances McDormand (Fargo) gives a cunning debut performance that set her on the road to stardom. The tight scripting and inventive camera work that have marked the Coens work for decades is all here, as cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld (Raising Arizona) trades black-and-white chiaroscuro for neon signs and jukebox colors that combine with a haunting score by Carter Burwell (Barton Fink) 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, and marked the arrival of a filmmaking ensemble that would help to transform the American independent cinema scene in the 1980s.
Actor: Frances McDormand
Actor: M. Emmet Walsh