Due to a computer error, an article about filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen in last Sunday's Show section contained some garbles. In the concluding portion of the story, written by Paul Attanasio, several paragraphs were repeated and others omitted. A correct version of that segment follows:
After NYU, Joel began working as a film editor with Edna Paul, who specializes in low-budget horror movies; Ethan left Princeton to become an office temporary doing, among other things, statistical typing for Macy's. "They really liked me," he says. "When I told them I was leaving to produce 'Blood Simple,' they didn't believe me -- they thought Gimbel's was trying to lure me away."
"Blood Simple" was written on nights and weekends over six months; once the money was raised, the brothers worked on the movie full time. After the shooting, both Coens worked closely with the editors. "One of the things they said to me and the other sound editors fairly early on," remembers Miller, "was not to make an outrageous suggestion to them for a particular kind of sound effect unless we were prepared to see it in the film. They called these things 'wildies' -- I think the term comes from Mack Sennett. 'How about a distant dentist's drill?' And Joel and Ethan said, 'Yeah.' "
The finished movie received an enthusiastic reception at Cannes, where it was first noticed by the people from Circle; its first big break in this country came at the New York Film Festival, where, after the screening, the Coens participated in the usual press conference. "Somebody asked if Marty was still alive," says Ethan. "We told them the question would be answered in the sequel, 'Blood Simple: 2000 A.D.,' in which we'd have the same cast, but all the actors would shave their heads."
"Then they asked, 'What is the theme of the movie?' " remembers Joel. "So we quoted Sam Raimi, who has three universal laws of cinethematics: 'The innocent must suffer. The guilty must be punished. You must taste blood to be a man.' "
"They seemed to accept that," Ethan says.
The Coens first met Raimi when, while with Edna Paul, Joel edited Raimi's splatter masterpiece, "The Evil Dead." "Sam helps little old ladies across the street," says Ethan. "He's very sweet," adds Joel. "You wouldn't think he makes dismemberment movies."
Raimi helped the Coens with their money-raising strategy and the production of their trailer; when he had the idea for "The XYZ Murders," due for release later this year, he turned to the Coens to help write it. "It's very comic-strip in its style," says Joel. "It's about two psycho killers who are rat exterminators who are hired to do a murder and become unraveled."
"Two rat exterminators who graduate to the big time," adds Ethan. "They're sort of irresponsible and they start killing more people than they're supposed to."
Currently, the Coens are working on the script for their next movie; again, Joel will direct, Ethan will produce. "It's a comedy," says Joel. "It's completely different from 'Blood Simple' -- we kind of reached the supersaturation point on that kind of movie."
"It takes place in New York in the late '50s," says Ethan. "One of those movies where everybody dresses real sharp and talks real fast."
" 'Executive Suite,' sort of," says Joel.
"You don't have your girl at the cigarette counter, but it's the kind of movie where you might have," Ethan says.
In the new movie, a crew-cut Raimi will play Buzz the Elevator Gnat ("My name is Buzz, I've got the fuzz, I make the elevator do what it does"). The Coens and Raimi put references to each other's films in their own: a spinning headline in "The XYZ Murders" includes, lower on the same page, "Elks to Honor Texas Detective" (an allusion to Visser of "Blood Simple"; in "Blood Simple," the bartender gets a message on his answering machine from Helene Trend, a character in "XYZ Murders."
"We just put it there to get a laugh out of Sam," says Joel. "We're trying to weave a grand Balzacian tapestry."
Will the brothers continue to work as a team?
"Joel doesn't know this, but I've got my own TV show now," says Ethan.
"Ethan had nightmares of finding me doing an episode of 'The Incredible Hulk' with chains around my neck saying, 'Hey, I gotta eat, don't I?' "