Tuesday’s Overlooked A/V: The Hudsucker Proxy

I haven’t had time to do a TOA/V in a while, but after some dissing of this film on Twitter, I decided it was a sign. I love the Coen’s films in general. Most of them I love a lot. I think Raising Arizona might be one of the funniest films ever made, Blood Simple is noir perfection, and the glory of Brother, Where Art Thou? and —

I could go on and on. After all I was rhapsodising about Barton Fink to my class this week. But this film often gets dismissed — as The Big Lebowski did when it first came out. Yeah, I remember your tepid responses to the film you now idolise. You can’t fool me.

A mash-up of broad screwball comedy with a knowing wink at its excesses and a subtle skewering of capitalism and marketing, the Coens take the dash of Preston Sturges and a love of fun and make pure delight. Jennifer Jason Leigh must have studied every Rosalind Russell picture out there. Robbins is the embodiment of the small town witless optimist, and Newman the cynical executive. As in all Coen films, the magic of the details is so perfectly chosen (and look for cameos from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell). It makes the whole thing sing, like this scene:

“He don’t look wise…”

Watch it again — or for the first time — and see if you don’t catch its brilliance. I’d stake my Pulitzer on it!

As always, see the round-up of TOA/V over at Todd’s.


  1. Dave Rice says:

    You know, for kids!

    1. katelaity says:

      Here’s my idea: O

  2. Patti Abbott says:

    I hated this at the time. The only Cohn Brothers movie except two I disliked. Should try it again.

    1. katelaity says:

      Really?! Wow. Huh, do you recall why you hated it?

  3. Todd Mason says:

    While this is one of the Coens I’ve yet to see…it does have a mixed rep, to be sure.

    I think you like their work more than I do, but I like their work, usually, quite well. FARGO si…O BROTHER…absolutely not. BLOOD SIMPLE, yup…RAISING, yes…BARTON FINK, a bit shaky, but still impressive.

    1. katelaity says:

      Apparently so.

      1. Todd Mason says:

        O BROTHER seemed to me to be coming from a place of unalloyed contempt, in a way that FARGO emphatically wasn’t. Also, as a bluegrass fan, the music was as overrated in its compass as MO’ BETTER BLUES’s music was in its.

  4. katelaity says:

    I don’t see the contempt — in fact I see an admiring tribute to Sturges. I hardly think it set out to be a quintessential bluegrass soundtrack and would have been lesser if the movie took second place to the soundtrack. Do you fault Cat O’Nine Tails for not being the quintessential Morricone collection?

    1. Todd Mason says:

      Nope. My point, not made clearly enough, was that the music 1) wasn’t that good, but B) was what was cooed about endlessly. No contempt for Sturges, contempt for the characters and their milieu…even those characters in FARGO who are mostly figures of fun are given more of a sense of life.

  5. Michael S. Chong says:

    Coincidentally, I just watched this last week and enjoyed it much more than I did when I first saw it years ago. Bruce Campbell does a nice turn here as the wisecracking reporter that pals around with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character.

    1. katelaity says:

      Yeah, one of his best cameos (reined in just enough).

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