Blood Simple

Blood Simple (1984)

TOBACCO INCIDENTS 193
AVG PER MINUTE 2.14
EDITION Universal Studios DVD released September 18, 2001
MOVIE SUMMARY A bar owner hires a seedy private eye to confirm his wife is cheating with another man.
TOBACCO IN SHORT Private eye man rolls & smokes cigarettes and owns a custom-engraved Zippo lighter which becomes a pivotal prop in the movie. Ray the bartender smokes Camel brand cigarettes throughout.
POSSIBLE SMOKESCREENS (?) All of the flashy neon and beer signs, the Chuck Taylor shoes, several grizzly murders, all with a twist!

TOBACCO INCIDENTS: 193

AVG PER MINUTE: 2.14

First frame at 0:23
Last frame at 93:12
Total visual running time: 92:49

# TIME ANGLE DESCRIPTION
* 3:17 MD First appearance of the rusty blue Volkswagen Beetle.
* 6:21 MD First brand name product placement: Alka Seltzer.
1 6:46 MD Smoke is seen rising by some men in the background bar.
2 7:08 ES Another puff of smoke in the background bar. “Just doing my job,” says the disembodied voice.
3 7:12 MD M. Emmet Walsh prepares to smoke an unfiltered cigarette.
4 7:20 CU M. Emmet Walsh lights a cigarette with a Zippo lighter.
* 7:23 ECU An extremely close view of the custom engraved Zippo lighter on the desk.
5 7:27 CU Smoke rises into view from M. Emmet Walsh’s lit cigarette.
6 7:56 CU M. Emmet Walsh takes a drag from his cigarette in a big wide close up shot.
7 7:59 CU Three smoke rings roll into frame in front of Dan Hedaya then fade away.
8 8:10 CU M. Emmet Walsh exhales a puff of smoke.
* 8:16 MD M. Emmet Walsh sits back with his Zippo lighter out on the desk (foreshadowing later events).
* 8:20 FS A Quaker State logo on a cardboard box is clearly visible.
9 8:22 MD Repeat of M. Emmet Walsh and Zippo on desk but with smoke rising from his hand below the desk.
10 8:28 MD A puff of smoke is visible in the background bar.
11 8:34 CU M. Emmet Walsh exhaling some cigarette smoke.
12 8:40 CU Repeat of M. Emmet Walsh exhaling cigarette smoke.
13 8:44 OTS Actor Dan Hedaya stares down at M. Emmet Walsh who exhales more smoke.
* 9:17 CU M. Emmet Walsh picks up his Zippo lighter from the desk (a definite foreshadowing of later events).
14 9:22 CU M. Emmet Walsh takes a big drag of his cigarette and exhales before leaving.
15 9:30 FS M. Emmet Walsh exhales more smoke as he exits the room carrying his lit cigarette.
* 9:30 FS Several cases of Miller High Life & Miller Lite beer are visible.
16-18 9:42 Dolly in Two golden glass ashtrays & a pack of cigarettes are visible on the bar along with a jar of pickled eggs.
* 9:47 CU First appearance of the Chuck Taylor brand shoes hopping across the bar.
19 9:48 CU/HH A pack of cigarettes can be seen laying on the bar as the bartender walks across the bar.
* 9:53 CU A distinct outline in a man’s back pocket could be a pack of cigarettes.
* 10:00 Steadicam Glowing neon signs for Miller High Life & Heineken are clearly visible.
20-24 10:10 ES One hand holding a long cigarette in foreground, one hand holding a short cigarette halfway down the bar, two golden glass ashtrays on bar & many clouds of smoke.
* 10:10 ES A Miller High Life beer bottle is visible and the same logo appears on a man’s red cap.
* 10:12 ECU Many closeups of same Chuck Taylor brand shoes.
Someone must be getting paid for this product placement because these random shots of the Bartender’s feet in Chuck Taylors play just like a television commercial.
25-29 10:16 ES Repeat looking down the bar: same two cigarettes, two golden glass ashtrays on bar & same clouds of smoke are visible.
* 10:18 CU Closeup of same Chuck Taylor shoes stepping on a stool.
30-35 10:20 CU Closeup of same Chuck Taylors skip-stepping over the bar to reveal a soft pack of cigarettes. Two golden glass ashtrays are seen on the bar. One person begins to take a drag, another person has just took a drag. Many clouds of smoke.
36 10:23 CU Closeup of same Chuck Taylors landing on the floor; a cigarette butt is visible.
37-38 10:24 WS Another golden glass ashtray can be seen on the bar almost hiding a pack of cigarettes.
* 10:24 WS Glowing neon signs for Budweiser, Lowenbrau & Pabst are seen.
39-41 10:40 WS Repeat of same ashtray & pack of cigarettes on the bar. This time, a small box of matches has joined the group. Also, a man lets out a puff of smoke deep in the background.
* 10:40 WS A Squirt soda pop sign is visible above the bartender’s head.
42-44 11:13 WS Repeat of same ashtray & pack of cigarettes on the bar. A man in the background holds a lighter for a woman lighting a cigar.
45-48 11:17 ES Two people at the bar are smoking cigarettes, a pack of cigarettes & a golden glass ashtray are partially visible on the bar.
* 11:17 CU A bottle of Heineken beer appears at center screen so closely that you can actually read the label & an automobile photograph labeled Pontiac hangs on the back wall.
49 11:30 MD A man in a cowboy hat trying to light his cigarette hat passes behind/between the two actors talking.
50-51 11:49 WS Repeat of same golden glass ashtray & pack of cigarettes on bar.
52 12:09 MD A pack of cigarettes is partially visible in John Getz’s pocket.
53 12:16 MD Same pack of cigarettes partially visible in John Getz’s pocket.
* 12:30 CU A box of Winchester brand ammunition is visible.
54 13:20 ECU An extreme closeup of John Getz with an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
55 13:28 ECU Repeat of same; John Getz even turns his head & cigarette across the screen so you can’t miss it.
56 13:33 ES John Getz walks over to the intercom and talks on it with the unlit cigarette in his mouth.
57-58 14:03 TS The camera floats through the rising smoke of a lit cigarette resting in a golden glass ashtray beside a man passed out on the bar.
59 15:49 MD John Getz sticks an unlit cigarette in his mouth as an incinerator burns up a column of smoke over his shoulder.
60 15:58 MD Repeat of John Getz with an unlit cigarette in his mouth.
61 16:03 MD Repeat of John Getz as he pulls the unlit cigarette out of his mouth.
62 18:09 OTS John Getz sits in his parked car smoking a cigarette hands free.
63 18:13 CU Behind a ringing telephone sits a green porcelain ashtray containing a bunch of cigarette butts.
64 21:15 FS/TS Same green porcelain ashtray full of cigarette butts is visible by the phone.
65 22:29 MD/TS Same green porcelain ashtray full of cigarette butts is visible by the phone.
66 22:37 MD/TS Continued from previous shot: a small ashtray is visible on the table next to Frances McDormand’s purse.
* 22:54 ES A Yamaha 250 motorcycle is partially visible next to a German Shepherd dog.
67 23:09 WS Same green porcelain ashtray full of cigarette butts is visible by the phone.
68-69 25:13 ES/TS A group of teens drinking beer; one teen is smoking a cigarette & one teen has an unlit dark-colored cigarette in his mouth.
70 25:27 ES/TS M. Emmet Walsh is smoking a cigarette whilst talking to a teenage girl.
* 25:27 ES/TS A full size appearance of the rusty blue Volkswagen Beetle.
71 25:35 ES M. Emmet Walsh dialog: “She saw me rolling a cigarette and thought it was marijuana.”
72 25:54 OTS M. Emmet Walsh smoking a cigarette inside the car while talking to Marty.
73 26:13 MD Repeat of M. Emmet Walsh smoking a cigarette but this time facing the camera.
74 27:19 CU M. Emmet Walsh sticks an unlit cigarette in his mouth. “If the pay’s right, I’ll do it” he says.
This statement might be the only true thing the Coens ever said on film; basically a mantra for all of Hollywood.
75 27:25 CU M. Emmet Walsh has lit a cigarette and is now smoking it.
76 27:33 CU Smoke is rising into the frame from M. Emmet Walsh’s cigarette.
77 30:32 ES A squatter is woken up but the first thing he does after sitting up on his cot is stick a cigarette in his mouth & light it.
This particular scene feels like another universe compared to the rest of the film.
78 30:41 MD A closer view of just the squatter enjoying his cigarette.
79 30:49 CU Smoke rises into the squatter’s face from his implied cigarette held just offscreen.
80-85 30:51 ES A pack of Newports or menthols sits next to a pink plastic ashtray on the bar. At least four patrons are smoking cigarettes.
86-89 31:04 MD A lit cigarette rests atop a stack of three pink plastic ashtrays beside of the bar’s emcee.
90-97 31:11 ES Repeat of same pack of menthols & ashtray on bar, two ashtrays in background & at least four people smoking.
In the background are three smokers in a row. Jeesh!
98 31:29 OTS A pack of Camel cigarettes is visible on the headboard above John Getz’s head.
99 31:40 MD Same pack of Camel cigarettes above John Getz’s head from a slightly lower angle.
100 32:15 MD Repeat of same pack of Camel cigarettes above John Getz’s head.
101 33:24 Steadicam Same green porcelain ashtray is visible next to the phone.
* 34:50 CU M. Emmet Walsh uses the light from his Zippo lighter to check the bullets in the gun.
102 36:15 HH Same pack of Camel cigarettes above John Getz’s head but from outside the window.
103 36:54 MD M. Emmet Walsh lights a cigarette with his Zippo lighter.
* 36:57 CU Closeup of the custom engraved Zippo lighter as it is layed down on the desk.
104 36:59 MD Smoke rising into M. Emmet Walsh’s face from his implied cigarette held just below the frame.
105 37:02 OTS M. Emmet Walsh holds his lit cigarette as Marty places some dead fish down over his Zippo lighter.
106 37:32 ECU Same pack of Camel cigarettes above John Getz’s head in the doctored photograph.
107 37:48 MD Repeat of smoke rising into M. Emmet Walsh’s face from his implied cigarette offscreen.
The Coens bring heightened focus to the pack of cigarettes again because it is the first item visible when the photograph is removed from its envelope.
108 37:56 MD Repeat of smoke rising into M. Emmet Walsh’s face from his implied cigarette offscreen.
109 38:07 MD Repeat of smoke rising into M. Emmet Walsh’s face from his implied cigarette offscreen.
110 38:25 MD Repeat of smoke rising into M. Emmet Walsh’s face from his implied cigarette offscreen.
111 38:37 FS A golden glass ashtray is visible on the railing ledge next to a lamp post.
112 38:49 MD Repeat of smoke rising into M. Emmet Walsh’s face from his implied cigarette offscreen.
113 38:59 ECU M. Emmet Walsh puts his cigarette out on a brass bookend of a bull’s head.
114 39:03 MD Smoke rising beside M. Emmet Walsh from his recently-extinguished cigarette offscreen.
115 39:08 FS Repeat of golden glass ashtray on a ledge next to a lamp post.
116 39:18 MD A placard for Camel cigarettes & a Coke syrup tank is visible behind actor Dan Hedaya.
117 39:47 MD Same brass bookend of a bull’s head with the cigarette butt is visible on the desk.
118 40:06 MD Same brass bookend of a bull’s head with the cigarette butt is visible on the desk.
119 40:23 MD Same brass bookend of a bull’s head with the cigarette butt is visible on the desk.
* 41:00 MD Same brass bookend of a bull’s head is visible on the desk as M. Emmet Walsh shoots Dan Hedaya however the cigarette butt is covered by the money.
120 41:11 WS Same golden glass ashtray on the railing ledge & three cases of Miller Lite beer are visible.
121 41:43 MD Same brass bookend of a bull’s head with the cigarette butt is visible on the desk.
* 41:56 MD Same brass bookend of a bull’s head is visible on the desk however the cigarette butt is missing.
* 42:10 ECU Closeup of same Zippo lighter hidden beneath the dead fish.
* 42:20 Crane Camera lowers to beneath the desk to again reveal same Zippo lighter laying under the dead fish.
* 42:38 Crane Same brass bookend of a bull’s head is visible on the desk however the cigarette butt is missing.
* 42:58 ES A glowing neon sign for Miller Lite beer is visible on the wall.
122 44:03 ECU The cash register drawer is opened to reveal a Antonio y Cleopatra brand cigar box inside.
123-149 44:13 ES At least 27 golden glass ashtrays are stacked up together.
150-164 44:27 ES Same stacks of golden glass ashtrays but at least 15 are visible this time.
* 44:42 ES A case of Heineken and two cases of Miller Lite are seen in the foreground.
* 46:48 ECU Same Zippo lighter is visible under some dead fish as a silver revolver is laid on the desk.
165 48:10 ES Same golden glass ashtray on a ledge.
* 48:10 ES Same brass bookend of a bull’s head is partially visible.
* 48:10 ES Same case of Heineken and two cases of Miller Lite from earlier.
* 48:50 MD Same Zippo lighter is partially visible under the dead fish.
* 55:20 FS The Buick name is clearly visible on the back of John Getz’s car.
166 59:13 MD John Getz has smoked a cigarette down to the butt, then he gives it a strange look and flicks it away.
He looks relieved to be smoking after a long night of burying Marty in a cornfield.
* 60:50 Crane A Mobil gas station sign is shown.
167-168 62:37 CU Two photographs are laid in a pan to burn; same pack of cigarettes above John Getz’s head is visible in both.
169-171 62:45 ECU Another view of the photographs, at least three copies are seen and same pack of cigarettes visible in all three.
* 63:05 MD Photographs of various Volkswagen Beetles hanging on a clothesline in the background.
Photos of newer Beetles? Why? Who the fuck knows. The photos even come sharply into focus when Walsh leaves the room at 63:40
172 63:17 MD M. Emmet Walsh sticks a hand-rolled cigarette into his mouth but can’t find his lighter.
* 63:43 ECU A yellow Bic lighter is dropped onto a counter.
173-174 70:28 OTS Side view of John Getz as he pulls out a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket and puts a cigarette in his mouth.
175-176 70:32 OTS Front view of John Getz as the cigarette is snatched from his mouth by character Meurice & dialog: “These fuckin things are nothing but coffin nails.”
177 70:54 WS Character Meurice now has a cigarette in his mouth and lights it up.
The guy who snatches the cigarette away and calls them coffin nails also happens to have a lighter in his pocket to light the cigarette for himself. What a coincidence! I guess Muerice smokes when he’s angry.
178 71:02 WS A cigarette is visible in Muerice’s hand but only for a split second.
179 71:05 MD John Getz sticks another cigarette in his mouth.
180 71:08 MD Repeat of John Getz with a cigarette in his mouth & also putting the pack back in his shirt pocket.
* 71:42 CU Same Zippo lighter is visible under the dead fish.
* 71:53 CU Repeat of same Zippo lighter visible under the dead fish.
* 71:57 CU Repeat of same Zippo lighter visible under the dead fish.
* 72:09 MD A case of Chivas Regal liquor is visible.
* 72:24 CU A case of Michelob & a case of Heineken are visible beside two Budweiser bottles & a Coors bottle.
* 73:36 MD Same Quaker State oil box from earlier is visible on the floor.
* 74:51 MD *** An example of NO BRANDS –> All of the bottles & brand names are turned around. ***
* 77:50 ES A U-Haul cardboard box, a Rose’s lime juice box & Kamchatka Vodka box are visible.
181 78:05 MD What appears to be a pack of cigarettes is visible in John Getz’s shirt pocket.
182 78:11 MD Repeat of seated John Getz with a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket.
183 78:15 MD Repeat of seated John Getz with a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket.
184 78:44 MD John Getz now standing with a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket.
185 78:50 MD Repeat of John Getz standing with a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket.
What’s funny is that you are actually scanning John Getz’s face for answers in this scene, so it is likely that you never even look down to see the pack of smokes in his shirt pocket.
186 78:54 MD Repeat of John Getz standing with a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket.
* 80:35 MD Same Quaker State oil box from earlier is visible on the floor.
187 80:38 MD John Getz with a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket.
188 80:45 MD John Getz with a pack of cigarettes visible in his shirt pocket.
* 81:20 CU When John Getz looks at the doctored photo, the pack of cigarettes is cropped off the top of the screen.
Literally & metaphorically he’s unable to “see” his own smoking habit, especially when viewing such a disturbing photograph.
* 81:39 WS Same Zippo lighter visible under the dead fish is now reflecting bright light.
189 83:20 MD In a bright room, we see the pack of cigarettes in John Getz’s shirt pocket so clearly they are obviously Camel brand.
190 83:26 MD Same pack of Camel cigarettes is visible in John Getz’s shirt pocket.
191 83:33 MD Same pack of Camel cigarettes is visible in John Getz’s shirt pocket.
192 83:43 MD Same pack of Camel cigarettes is visible in John Getz’s shirt pocket but only for a split second.
193 83:47 MD Same pack of Camel cigarettes is visible but ironically he gets shot by a rifle through the opposite shirt pocket.
* 85:43 CU Still looking for his Zippo, M. Emmet Walsh searches through John Getz’s pockets & dialog: “You got some personal property of mine.”

Additional Thoughts…

The very first feature film by the Coen brothers, critics often refer to Blood Simple (1984) as a contemporary noir style and definitely showing lots of promise for future filmmaking. That “promise” was likely the ability to embed dozens of tobacco products with such subtle precision that no one in the audience really ever notices. As for future filmmaking deals, well, hey… If the Coen brothers have got a role for cigarettes then we’ve got their multi-million dollar budgets covered, a studio executive might say.

In my small opinion, Blood Simple (1984) is extremely eerie to me in so many ways… But for a first time effort, it is absolutely unbelievable. The Coen brothers really do possess some kind of superhuman talent for filmmaking that is unrivaled in the industry.

What is also interesting is that the Coen brothers chose to weave a strangely familiar object into the film’s core: a classic silver Zippo lighter. Early in Blood Simple, the private eye character sets his custom engraved Zippo lighter on the bar owner’s desk. Later on after committing a murder, the private eye accidentally leaves his Zippo behind on a desk and doesn’t realize it’s missing until much later. In some ways, this is rather unbecoming of any smoker I’ve ever met as I believe it is far more likely the guy would have noticed the lighter was missing the moment he stepped out the door or got back to his car and tried to light up his next cigarette. But I guess maybe he’s one of those I only smoke a single hand-rolled cigarette per day kinda guys. After all, he was named the Elk’s “Man of the Year” so he must be somewhat respectable.

Interestingly enough, this particular DVD edition by Universal Studios actually features a silly introduction by a bespectacled old man. But hey don’t worry, even the boring introduction doesn’t fail to deliver up a tobacco incident or two. I guess I forgot to mention he is a pipe-smoking old man.

In the short introduction, a so-called film historian named Mortimer Young quietly puts aside his tobacco pipe as he tells a story while an hourglass on the desk rains time away. It’s terribly convenient how Young’s introduction to Blood Simple (1984) also happens to have the youthful theme of “Forever Young” at the same time this old man is smoking a pipe and surrounded by antique volumes. See what I mean about works by the Coen brothers taking on all new meanings when filtered through a lens of tobacco? These guys really are diabolical at obfuscating the real meaning behind things.

Anyways, after finishing up his rather boring and nonsensical spiel about minor updates made to the movie Blood Simple (1984) strictly for this DVD edition, Young returns the tobacco pipe to his mouth and dives back into an antique book as the segment ends. Once again, it seems that this little unnecessary scene was merely added as another way to embed a couple of blatant tobacco incidents for the viewer and probably nothing more. For those that don’t know, the Coen brothers shot this phony introduction strictly for this special edition DVD.

At another point during the Coens’ first film Blood Simple (1984), a pack of Camel cigarettes makes a casual appearance on a bedroom headboard. Later in the movie, the same pack of cigarettes can also be easily spotted on that same headboard in several different “surveillance” photographs of the same couple in bed. Beyond that, the surveillance photos are even doctored with fake bullet holes & blood to show the main characters murdered — but guess what, you can still see that random pack of smokes lingering up there on the headboard.

The Coen brothers also add heightened focus to this particular pack of cigarettes by showing a closeup of the shocking surveillance photo as it is slowly removed from its manilla envelope. Finally, toward the end of the film, the series of the doctored photos is burned by the photographer however that random pack of Camel cigarettes can always be seen clearly in each individual photo. Do I need to say more? Trust me, I don’t think this kind of careful framing just happens by accident.

Throughout the film it becomes obvious that lead actor John Getz always carries around a pack of cigarettes in his left breast pocket. Ultimately by the third act, the pack of cigarettes is even clearly visible through the chest pocket of Getz’s thin white shirt; a pack of Camels to be exact which I’ve found is also the Coen brothers’ favorite brand. Sadly at the end of the film, Getz faces the camera and is shot by a rifle through the opposite breast pocket. What on earth could the Coen brothers possibly be trying to say by this random act? Choose between the two pockets… A pack of smokes on one side, a bullet on the other!

Blood Simple might be the Coen brothers’ very first film, but it also contains a lot of very obvious brand name products such as Miller Lite, Heineken and Chuck Taylor shoes of all things. Strangely, in a photo darkroom when the main character actually figures out that his Zippo lighter is gone, he leaves the darkroom however the camera remains and many photos of Volkswagen Beetles come clearly into focus. Say what you will but all of these brand name products do seem to add to the strange texture of the film.

Curiously, the Coen brothers chose to weave a strangely familiar object into Blood Simple: a classic silver Zippo lighter. Early in Blood Simple, the private eye man’s custom-engraved Zippo is placed non-chalantly on a desk and later retrieved. Later in the film, the same Zippo lighter is placed on the desk again but this time is covered up and left behind and therefore linking the man to a murder. As I mentioned, the Coens really do seem have a talent for slipping these elements into their films, sometimes even as major plot points.

So yeah the private eye man just happens to forget his custom Zippo brand lighter on the table under some dead fish. He realizes it the next time he goes to light up a cigarette which, even to me, seems like an unreasonable amount of time according to any smoker I’ve ever met — even if the movie happened in realtime. Many of the smokers I know would have realized they forgot their Zippo lighter the moment they stepped outside the door or got to their car to light up another cigarette.

The world is full of complainers…
The fact is nothing comes with a guarantee.
Now I don’t care if you’re the pope of Rome, president of the United States, or man of the year…
Something can always go wrong.
Go ahead, complain… Tell your problems to your neighbors, ask for help, and watch them fly.
In Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else.
That’s the theory anyway.
But what I know about is Texas…
And down here, you’re on your own.

[The disembodied narration that precedes the film’s title card.]