May 10 2008

Overlooked Classics: The Hudsucker Proxy

Published by at 8:30 am under Overlooked Classics

Not long after playing the sleezy Griffin Mill in Robert Altman’s The Player and just prior to playing the iconoclastically hopeful Andy Dufresne in Shawshank, Tim Robbins further flexed his diverse acting muscles by playing the hapless Norville Barnes in the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy.

Joel and Ethan Coen have time and time again proved their wit and dark humour: Fargo, Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski. With Hudsucker, they proved they had great filmmaking skills too.

Opening with a spectacular shot of snow falling over a beautiful city, we pan in over the rooftops until it comes upon the Hudsucker Industries building, with a huge clock about to ring in the New Year. And we are presented with a man about to jump to his death. The rest of this hilarious film is told through flashback as we watch the fascinating tale of Norville Barnes and what brought him to that ledge.

Barnes, a country bumpkin hick, hits the Big Apple with the intention of becoming a New York City executive. His timing is magical as he enters the doors of Hudsucker Industries just as the Hudsucker board determines it needs a patsy to run the company into the ground so it can buy up shares when the company goes public in a month. Not knowing that he is actually expected to run the company down, full of energy and completely incompetent, he tries his best to save the company, but with bad advice from big cheese Mussburger (Paul Newman) he is destined to follow the board’s plan to take the share price to the floor. Barnes hires Amy (the fast-talking Jennifer Jason Leigh, in a role very different to last week’s Dolores Claiborne) as his assistant, but unbeknownst to him, she is a reporter trying to expose him. The only kink in an otherwise incredible movie, Leigh’s grating portrayal of a 40’s or 50’s wisecracking strong woman is too over the top, but this only further highlights the brilliance of both Robbins and Newman.

The film is punctuated by sparkling art direction, fabulolus sets, snappy dialogue, and terrific supporting turn from Paul Newman, make this a classic movie that missed out on many deserving awards.

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Overlooked Classics: The Hudsucker Proxy”

  1. darraghon 10 May 2008 at 3:08 pm

    what can you do with a circle?

    It’s one of my personal favourites. Paul Newman is fantastic in it too. It looks like it was loads of fun to make!

  2. B'dum B'dumon 10 May 2008 at 4:03 pm

    my fourth favourite coen bros film

  3. Andrewon 10 May 2008 at 8:02 pm

    “Iconoclastically”? I’m pretty sure you just mean “iconically”? But then, I was wrong last time i queried your usage of a word.

    By the by, great posts recently, Shannon trip might well prove too tempting to resist, hope you’re still on for radiohead on 7/6, scarlett Johansson single is available on vinyl at Tower Records for 1.99 and you really ought to get it, make a point of listening to a brilliant group called Band of Horses if you have never done so, check out this story for your next opportunity to write about sports and hi to Liz.

    That will be all.

  4. Darrenon 11 May 2008 at 11:29 pm

    @Darragh You know, for kids!

    @B’DumX2 Fargo, Big Lebowski, Oh Brother and Man Who wasn’t there?

    @Andy In Shawshank, Robbins played a man who dared to hope while everywhere around him there was despair and hopelessness. He shunned the behaviours of the populous, hence the ‘iconoclastically’ bit. That said, I was just being a little uppity, but when else would I get to use such a beautiful word? I loves me words, I does!

    Radiohead? Huh?

  5. B'dum B'dumon 12 May 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Fargo>Miller’s Crossing>Barton Fink>Hudsucker>Lebowski>O Brother>Raising Arizona>No Country>the others

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