The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)


Written by Ethan, Joel and Sam Raimi; directed by Joel; produced by Ethan

When a company’s boss commits suicide, the stock is due to be sold to the public – so the board appoint Norville Barnes, an imbecile from the post room, as CEO in order to artificially reduce the price…

Seen before? No.

Best performance: Jennifer Jason Leigh as feisty, sassy, quick-talking, sexy yet occasionally klutzy newspaper hack Amy Archer. Her rat-a-tat-tat dialogue is a constant delight – it’s like watching Lois Lane played by Rebecca from Cheers. I wanted the whole film to be about her.

Coen regulars (running total of appearances): Steve Buscemi (3) plays a barman in a beatnik bar. John Goodman (3) provides a newsreel voice. Jon Polito (3) has a cameo as a businessman. Bruce Campbell (1) is Amy’s droll colleague, while John Mahoney (2) is her boss. Charles Durning (1) is the guy who commits suicide and sets the plot in motion.

Best bit: The slapstick scene where Norville sets fire to an important contract then tries to put it out in increasingly comic fashion.

Review: Part screwball comedy, part satire on big business – this is very, very entertaining. It’s the Coens’ third period movie on the trot, and has lots of striking Art Deco architecture and 1950s style (it reminded me of both Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and Tim Burton’s Batman). It’s inventive, light-on-its-feet and often really funny.

Nine hula hoops out of 10.


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