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The Hudsucker Proxy (October 9, 2014)

This movie, an updated Horatio Alger story set against the sympathetic backdrop of the Eisenhower administration, is my favorite among the Coen brothers’ pictures. Aureliano Tonet has written in Le Monde, riffing on the boxlike world of the Hudsucker building and the hero’s constant presentation of a drawing of a circle (“You know, for kids!”): “One of the most stylized of the Coens’ movies, which, through the victory of the circle over the square, celebrates the primacy of the imagination over straight and rectilinear economic rationality.”

Written and directed by the Coens, the chief collaborators were colleagues from previous films: Roger Deakins as cinematographer, music by Carter Burwell (with borrowings from Bizet, Khachaturian, and the style of Dean Martin), production design-art direction-set decoration-costume design by Dennis Gassner, Leslie McDonald, Nancy Haigh and Richard Hornung. Thom Noble edited this one, though the Coens usually edited their own films. It was filmed from November 1992 through March 1993 and was released in March 1994. The stars were Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Newman, supported by Charles Durning, Bill Cobbs, and John Mahoney, among others. In smaller roles you will note Coen regulars Steve Buscemi and Jon Polito.

Caryn James wrote in the New York Times of the time, “Although the story is set in 1958, the look and the dialogue and the plot evoke films of the 30's and 40's. Historical accuracy means nothing when you're fondly retelling legends built by Frank Capra, Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks. . .To appreciate the Coens, it is necessary to delight in their films' stylized, surface charms. Those charms are abundant in Hudsucker, which is a shrewd comic valentine to the kind of movies they don't make anymore. It is also the Coens' funniest, most accessible film since the dark comedy Raising Arizona.” I hope you enjoy watching this comic fable with me tonight.