When Waring Hudsucker, head of hugely successful Hudsucker Industries, commits suicide, his board of directors, led by Sidney Mussberger, comes up with a brilliant plan to make a lot of money: appoint a moron to run the company. When the stock falls low enough, Sidney and friends can buy it up for pennies on the dollar, take over the company, and restore its fortunes. They choose idealistic Norville Barnes, who just started in the mail room. Norville is whacky enough to drive any company to ruin, but soon, tough reporter Amy Archer smells a rat and begins an undercover investigation of Hudsucker Industries. Written by
Another fascinating piece from the Coen Brothers, 'The Hudsucker Proxy' is an homage to the films of the 1930s. From the grey faux-Gothic cityscape to the over-the-top acting and rapid fire dialogue to the subdued colors to the stark sets, this film hearkens back to an earlier era of films.
The plot is simple enough. When company president Waring Hudsucker commits suicide, the board of directors, led by the deliciously evil Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) determines to devalue the stock by putting a 'shmoe' in charge of the company so that when the late Hudsucker's controlling interest in stock hits the market in 30 days, Mussburger's cabal can snap it up on the cheap. Enter shmoe Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins). Jennifer Jason Leigh is the newspaper reporter who infiltrates Hudsucker Industries under the guise of secretary, and is Barnes' love interest in the film.
Robbins performs more than adequately but is outshone by terrific performances by Newman and, in particular, by Leigh, who absolutely nails this role. Her saucy, lilt of the tongue is wonderful; she simply oozes sensual sass, and all in the very decent parameters of decades gone by in Hollywood.
Other highlights of the film include - the wonderful sets, where less is more; the usual Coen cinematography, which makes the film a visual delight above and beyond acting and plot; the clock (an unbilled role, in a sense). Curious characters pop up and return Buzz the Elevator Operator, the Clock Maintainer, and many others. And, of course that clock!
As will all Coen brothers films, this one calls me to see it again, as I always seem to discover new elements when watching their works for the second, third, fourth times, and beyond. A very worthwhile film enjoy!
7 out of 10
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