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Thursday, August 10, 2017

'The Hudsucker Proxy' Blu-ray: The Coen Brothers Take Stock of Manipulating Financial Markets


The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the deliciously dark and cynical Coen Brothers 1994 comedy "The Hudsucker Proxy" provides many great reminders of the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages of Hollywood that predate the current Talc Age. Les Freres Coen make this hilarious homage to the social-conscience comedies of the '30s and '40s that is set in the '50s in the '90s. The jaded guys, tough dames, snappy patter, and spinning newspapers show that the Coens respect their Golden Age elders.

The increasingly common aside for reviews of Archive titles this time is that the Coens also learn from Silver Age of Television god Garry Marshall; that "Happy Days" creator is spot-on in realizing that a television show made in the '70s but set in the '50s and '60s never looks dated.

"Hudsucker" opens with the related events of Hudsucker Industries Founder and CEO Waring Hudsucker abruptly and dramatically retiring and Indiana rube Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) arriving in the Big Apple with the ink still figuratively wet on his diploma from a Muncie business college.

The job search of Barnes on arriving in New York is more reminiscent of the Depression, rather than the more prosperous '50s. Barnes landing a job in the frantic and highly bureaucratic "Brazil" like mailroom at Hudsucker is a dream come true for cigar-chomping robber baron Hudsucker executive Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman).

The grand scheme of Mussburger relates to the departure of Waring inspiring a campaign to have the value of Hudsucker stock plummet in order for Mussburger and his fellow directors to buy low and sell (or hold) high. The noble but naive Barnes arriving facilitates executing the portion of the plan that calls for purposefully making an incompetent boob the company president.

Of course, the big idea of Barnes that the board thinks cannot succeed is a massive hit. This both shows how to succeed in business without really trying and answers the question of whether success spoils Norville Barnes.

The requisite dame is fast (and tough) talking lady reporter Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh). She (in pure '30s screwball comedy style) initially plays Barnes for a sap, has a few changes of heart, and ultimately gets a combination of her man and the real story.

The combination of actual and Hollywood magic at the end of "Hudsucker" awesomely completes the experience of seeing and hearing this highly stylized and Coenesquely scored film in Blu-ray. Seeing that someone is looking out for the good-hearted saps out there and that justice of the poetic and other forms still exist will make you feel better than you have at the conclusion of any film for many years.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Hudsucker" is strongly encouraged either to email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.