Texas-fertilized black humor? That's sort of what we have with the Coen brothers' first movie, Blood Simple. I suspect that more men enjoy this film than women, with its verbal duals and grisly-comic violence. It's an acquired taste, for sure, but the dialogue is unpredictable enough to be genuinely interesting—that is, if this is the sort of thing you go in for. The screenplay excerpt below presents us with two despicable characters—a greasy tavern owner and a redneck private investigator. The former believes that his wife is conducting an affair, and when his hired eye confirms his suspicions, the tavern owner's thoughts turn murderous. The bad news is made all the worse because his hired man can take nothing seriously.

from Blood Simple

screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen

Reading well requires an anticipatory imagination.
As we read, we predict what is coming next, and we
do our best to envision authentic voices and scenes.
Our imaginings should compel us to mimic the very
voices that we imagine, and we should strive to hear
clearly (and recreate aloud) their cadence, timing, and tone.

Ours will not be a class in which mediocre vocal reading
is acceptable. Language is meant to be relished,
not relegated to the artificiality of a classroom
"exercise." We want it to be REAL, so we'll
MAKE IT REAL, and then we'll weigh
our reading against the experts,
in this case Dan Heydaya
and M. Emmet Walsh.

Please read the following script in advance of class.
Do not watch or revisit the film. Come
prepared to present either role.

Loren Visser
I know where you can get those framed.

Marty Julian
Why'd you take these?

Loren Visser
What do ya mean? Just doin' my job.

Marty Julian
You called me. I knew they were there.
Why'd you take them?

Loren Visser
Well, I don't know. Call it a fringe benefit.

Marty Julian
How long were you watching them?

Loren Visser
Most of the night. They'd rest every few
minutes and then they'd get started
again. Quite something.

Marty Julian
You know, in Greece, they would cut off
the head of the messenger that
brought the bad news.

Loren Visser
Well, that don't make much sense.

Marty Julian
No. It made them feel better.

Loren Visser
Well, first off, Julian, I don't know what the
story is in Greece, but in this state we got very
definite laws about that. Second, I'm not a
messenger—I'm a private investigator.
And third, and most important, it aint
such bad news—I mean, you thought
he was colored. You're always
assuming the worst.
Anything else?

Marty Julian
Uh-huh. Don't come around here
anymore. If I need you, I'll
know what rock to
turn over.

Loren Visser
That's good.
What rock to turn over.
Very, very good.
Give me a call whenever you
want to cut off my head.
I can always crawl
around without it.