Re-watching the Classics: A Simple Plan

A Simple Plan is a neo noir by director Sam Raimi of Evil Dead and Spider-Man fame. This is based on a book and screen play by Scott B. Smith. The film was released in 1998 and was nominated for two Oscars. The three main characters are played by an all-star trio with Bill Paxton as our main protagonist, Bridget Fonda as his wife and Billy Bob Thornton as his socially awkward brother.

The film starts in an everyday small town in the Northern United States. It is New Years Eve and Hank, Played by Paxton, is leaving work early for a family matter. He goes home where we soon see his pregnant wife Sarah, played by Fonda. He changes and soon his brother Jacob played by Thornton, pulls up outside in his beat up truck. Hank is not happy as he sees Jacob has brought his obnoxious friend Lou played by Brent Briscoe. The threesome goes to a cemetery to put a poinsettia on a grave. As they are leaving, a fox with a chicken in its mouth runs out in front of Jacob’s truck causing him to hit a tree. Jacob, not happy, grabs his riffle and the three take off in pursuit of the fox. They soon come across a wrecked airplane. Upon investigation they find a dead pilot and a bag full of money, 4.4 million to be exact. As the group discuss what to do, they decide that Hank will take the money and the three will keep it secret until spring. They will wait to see after the wreckage is discovered if the money is mentioned. If it is not, Hank will distribute the money and all three will move away happy and wealthy. Will money ruin these people’s life? Of course it will, but how?

This is a very good noir plot with money being the root of all evil and what will the common man do to keep his ill-gotten gains. I really enjoyed how the 4 characters that know about the money change as the film goes along. All are good average people when the film starts and change to evil people in different varieties by the end. Hank does what he thinks is right through out the film, but his femme fatale of a wife controls him like a puppet. Paxton does an amazing job as our everyday hero. Fonda as our femme fatale starts out saying she would never take the money to over thinking every little detail to dastardly consequences. Thornton, who got this part do to his performance in Sling Blade, shows once again how great an actor he is. The way he must balance friendship and family and is eventually pulled apart by this choice alone makes this worth watching.  Briscoe’s performance of Lou is underrated and though he starts out as the biggest jerk, he changes the lest because of the money. Chelcie Ross plays the small town naive Sheriff to perfection and Gary Cole is also very good as the F.B.I. Agent in town to investigate the possible plane crash.

This is a great film by any measure and if you have not seen it, go do it now! If you have not seen it in a while now would be a good time to revisit this one.

Re-watching the Classics: A Fresh Look at Miller’s Crossing


Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, the Coen Brothers, neo noir legends that have made so many classic modern noir films it’s hard to pick a favorite.  This is not me picking my favorite of Coen Brothers film, this is me reviewing the one I think is the most underrated.  After their debut Blood Simple and before the Oscar-winning Fargo, both classics, they made a small movie called Miller’s Crossing.  The Coen’s used a mishmash of noir legend Dashiell Hammett books to write this story.


Gabriel Byrne plays our hero, a gangster with a gambling problem.  He’s the right hand man of the boss played by Albert Finney.  Both of them are in love with our femme fatale Verna, played by Marcia Gay Harden.  The plot is further complicated by Verna’s brother, played by John Turturro, who is always in trouble and Verna is using anybody and everybody to protect him.  A boxing match is being fixed by competing gangster Johnny Casper played by Joe Polito, but somebody is leaking the information.  We see cameo’s by Steve Buscemi and Frances McDormand, Coen Brother favorites, and a cool cameo from director Sam Raimi.  J.E. Freeman as the Dane and Mike Starr as Frankie play great heavies.

This story is full of plot twists you don’t see coming in classic noir style.  It takes place in the late 1920’s maybe early 1930’s, we have corrupt cops, back stabbing gangsters, gamblers, murder, great dialog, and sets.  If you like the Coen Brothers and have not seen this movie it, do it!  Great film worth a viewing.