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Sherlock’s Classics: Film Review – The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

MML

Set in 1958 in New York, a company president commits suicide so the board of directors installs a young naive business graduate as president of the company as part of a stock scam.

Drawing from Hollywood’s Golden Era and mixing Preston Struges (Sullivan’s Travels), Ernst Lubitsch (To Be or Not To Be, Ninotchka, Heaven Can Wait) and Frank Capra Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, It’s a Wonderful Life), with a sprinkling of John Farrow’s 1948 noir classic ‘The Big Clock,’ to name a few, this delightfully extravagant (Gillian-esque) comedy from Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coen is a stylish, funny, dark, romantic, perverse and ultimately startling fable of the American dream.

Highly intelligent, witty and bitingly cynical screenplay by Joel & Ethan Coen and Sam Raimi, the meticulous pitch perfect direction by Joel and Ethan Coen propel this to high on the list of an extraordinary and almost unparalleled body of work that includes the chilling ‘Blood Simple,’ the darkly comic ‘Barton Fink’ and ‘Fargo,’ the Best Picture Oscar winning thriller ‘No Country For Old Men,’ the delightfully surrealistic ‘The Big Lebowski’ and the wildly unhinged odyssey of ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ among others.

Bravura performances from Tim Robbins as the unsuspecting but idealistic sap Norville Barnes, Paul Newman deliciously evil and scheming company director Sidney J. Mussburger, Jennifer Jason Leigh as a newspaper reporter Amy Archer, and the late great Charles Durning as the suicidal company president, Waring Hudsucker.

Overflowing with many wonderful and unforgettable eye-popping vignettes, including a runaway hoola-hoop and a clock that does more than just tell the time, there are magical moments abound that are a reflection into the mirror of what cinema was created for.

Standout period detail, costume and production design, a special mention must also go to cinematographer Roger Deakins for his startling vision, and to the music by Carter Burwell, who brilliantly accents every emotional moment throughout!

This is an unhinged cosmic comic celluloid tour-de-force, an eccentrically inventive homage of a time, and unique reminder of the sheer joy of watching movies, one that will keep a smile on your face long after it’s over.

A gem!

Stars ****

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