For this week I wanted to look at some films fit which under a category I like to call Western Noir. Though the number one films that I thought filled that description, No Country For Old Men, I had already seen. Happily, the other two recommendations I had fit together quite nicely.  So here we have two pieces of gallows humor that tell chilling stories of adultery, betrayal, and murder…. All tragic, if the people doing all this weren’t so comically incompetent.

Wednsensday Double Feature - Gallows Humor in the New west Blood SimpleSince the rules didn’t let me do No Country For Old Men, I started my selection Coen Brothers film, with the first in their career, Blood Simple. Blood Simple tells the story about  Marty, a rich Bar Owner, played by Dan Hedaya, who hires a detective played by M. Emmett Walsh to find out if his wife, Abby (played by Coen regular Frances McDormand) is cheating on him. It turns out that she is and he then hires the Detective to kill her, and her dimwitted lover, Ray (played by John Getz) .

This leads to a fatal double cross, desperate attempts to hide the body and a climax with a desperate cat and mouse game as the detective tries to recover some incriminating evidence as well as taking care of some loose ends (like Ray and Abby, who he didn’t actually kill.)

This was an okay film, but still very much a beginner’s work from the Coen. Though it had a nice raw quality I liked. Having only ever seen Hedaya as the buffoonish Nick Tortelli from Cheers, I barely recognized him as Marty, and Walsh steals every scene he’s in as the detective.

Wednesday Double Feature Gallows Humor in the New West - Kill Me three timesFrom here we go farther west,,, all the way west to the west coast of Australia. With Kill Me Three Times. We pretty much have the same plot as blood simple. A rich motel owner suspects his wife is cheating on him and puts a hit out on her when his suspicions are confirmed. Meanwhile, his wife, who’s trying to get away from him, takes all the money in his safe on the way out. But that’s not all! A dentist is trying to fake his wife’s death for the insurance and all he need is a convenient victim to take her place… And did I mention there’s a crooked cop making things difficult for everyone?

This was… okay. The story was done in a strange Anachronic Order that didn’t have any real recognizable pattern, and was difficult to follow. Like in Blood Simple, the sheer incompetence of all of the crooks made these otherwise horrible things funny.

Otherwise, the best thing about this film was Simon Pegg as the hitman. Having the time of his life playing against type, he’s funny and terrifying at the same time.