The Coen Brothers

The Coen Brothers

A Story by Doug Ordunio

a discussion of two of America's most unique filmmakers.


Joel and Ethan Coen are very unusual filmmakers. They are brothers, and they get along almost too well. People who have worked with them say that there is an incredible sense of calm on the sets. There are never any arguments. They and their collaborators work together.


Their first film is a crime thriller called Blood Simple (1984)  Julian (Dan Hedaya) is the owner of a bar in Texas. He suspects that his wife Abby (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with one of his bartenders, Ray (John Getz).  Julian hires Loren (M. Emmet Walsh) to take compromising pictures of them when they meet at a hotel.  After Julian threatens Ray, Ray quits. He also tells him not to trust Abby. Julian hires Loren to kill them, while he goes off on a fishing trip to create an alibi.  He shows some doctored photos of Ray and Abby to Julian, where after he kills Julian with Abby’s gun. Then, a variety of misinterpretations ensue.  The movie is a tense and unusual piece of cinema.


Their most recognized film includes Fargo (1996) for which Frances McDormand won a Best Actress Academy Award nomination.  The story concerns Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a used car salesman in Minnesota who needs money. He hits upon a plan to make money that seems doomed to failure. He wants to get money from his wealthy father-in-law, by arranging with a couple of criminals, Carl (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear (Peter Stormare), to kidnap his wife. For this they will get a new car as well as a portion of the ransom.  Unfortunately, due to the plates on the car, they are stopped by a state trooper, and mayhem results.  Everything goes wrong with Lundegaard’s plan. Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), a local police chief who is seven months pregnant, is investigating the murder case, and gradually the kidnap plot and all those involved become uncovered.


The movie which garnered several Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem and Best Adapted Screenplay was  No Country for Old Men (2007).  Llewelyn Ross (Josh Brolin) while hunting pronghorn in the desert of West Texas, happens upon a drug deal gone bad with abandoned trucks (one of which has a load of cocaine), dead bodies and a dead pit bull.  Finally, he finds the body of a dead Mexican some distance away and a satchel filled with $2 million.  He takes the money and hides it, and attempts to keep one step ahead of the hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and the law, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). Although the three characters never meet, they are all involved in a complicated chase movie.


Some of their other movies include, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski, Miller’s Crossing, and the recent re-make of True Grit.  Each one is unique and special in its point of view.


© 2011 Doug Ordunio

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Added on September 20, 2011
Last Updated on September 20, 2011
Tags: film, Coens, directors, writers, Miller


Doug Ordunio
Doug Ordunio

Tujunga, CA

I have been writing for a little while-- Please read and you might be entertained. Please don't send me tons of read requests. If you must send one, make sure it's your best stuff. From me, you will.. more..