October 16, 2010

The Hudsucker Proxy - 1994

Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen
Writers: Joel & Ethan Coen and Sami Raimi
Starring: Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman

"I just got hired today. You know, entry level. But I got big ideas." Before their mainstream breakout with 1996's Fargo, the Coen brothers made the screwball comedy The Hudsucker Proxy, a paean to many films of the 1930s and 1940s, in which Norville Barnes (Robbins) is quickly promoted from the mail room of Hudsucker Industries by chairman of the board Sidney J. Mussburger (Newman) as part of a scheme to keep "any slob in a smelly tee-shirt" from buying shares in the company after founder and CEO Waring Hudsucker jumps to his death from the 45th floor.

The Big Lebowski may have a great cult following, and the Coens' serious work as of late has Oscar nods aplenty, but I'm calling this my favorite film they've made to date. The snappy dialogue moves quickly enough to amaze yet still be made out, characters are well developed, and we're never left wondering "why." Roger Deakins's cinematography and Carter Burwell's score compliment the Coens' style beautifully as always. I'm hard pressed to find a single weak point in this movie, aside from a brief foray into the impossible near the end. This is a goal for any comedic filmmaker to strive for. A

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