The Coen use violence with perfect care, just enough to shock to viewer. The characters are always very normal and placing them in those situations of violence creates the contrast that drives most of their movie. They always know how to build up the suspense and surprise the viewer enough to keep them interested. What they do might not be new, but it uses the techniques of filmmaking in a very effective way.
The Coen brothers have never appealed to me much, so I may have been the wrong audience for this, but turns out I liked the noir atmosphere, the cinematography, and the use of long silences to enhance the mood. A pretty solid thriller, although it still had that signature Coen style that for some reason is not for me, but I can't pinpoint exactly what it is that bothers me about it.
The film that set an interesting template that the Coen brothers have revisted time and time again. The budgets may have gotten bigger, and they have made darker, and funnier films, yet there is something special about the first time that will always remain supreme.
The Coen Brothers, in this opera prima while still polishing their craft, produce here an interesting noir. Despite a classic story line and a rudimentary character development, the brothers fill it up with enough suspense and some clever twists. A young Frances McDermott eclipses her fellow cast. A decent effort in a long and productive filmography.