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Soundtrack Sunday: The Hudsucker Proxy

[alert type=”muted” close=”false” heading=””] [icon type=”headphones”] Soundtrack Sunday highlights particular film soundtracks for your listening pleasure. [icon type=”headphones”][/alert]

Today’s Soundtrack: The Hudsucker Proxy by Carter Burwell

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us. Time to kick 2014 to the curb and see what 2015 offers (hopefully more social unrest!). One film that makes great use of a New Year’s Eve setting is 1994’s The Hudsucker ProxyHudsucker was the then biggest-budgeted film the Coen Brothers had ever made, and the Coen’s were hoping for their first mainstream success. Unfortunately, when Warner Brothers held test screenings for the film, audiences didn’t quite know what to make of it, and Warner’s panicked and tried to get the Coen’s to do reshoots. Luckily, the Coen’s had final cut approval, and the film that was released was more or less their original vision.

The Hudsucker Proxy is a strange, wonderful movie. The script was cowritten by Sam Raimi, who also served as Second Unit Director, and as a result the film has more manic energy than most Coen films; this manic style was trademark of Raimi’s early films, before Hollywood blockbusters swallowed him up and had him spitting out garbage like Oz the Great and the Powerful.

Hudsucker details the story of Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins), an awkward doofus with a good heart who, through a comedy of errors, ends up being promoted as the head of Hudsucker Industries. Hard-nosed reporter Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) smells something fishy, goes undercover to investigate. In the process, Norville ends up inventing the hula hoop. The film is inspired by classic Howard Hawkes, Preston Sturges and Frank Capra films, with an affinity for screwball comedy. It also boasts some great performances, from Robbins and also Paul Newman, as the villainous Sidney J. Mussburger. But the real stand-out is Jennifer Jason Leigh, who channels Katherine Hepburn and spits out the rat-a-tat dialogue with lightning precision. It’s the kind of knock-out performance that makes you angry that more movies don’t use Leigh more often. Thankfully she’s got the lead in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming The Hateful Eight, so perhaps it will launch a bit of a comeback for her.

The film is bookended on a snowy New Year’s Eve, and the production design is lavish and gorgeous. Giving it that extra, remarkable touch is Cater Burwell’s lush, lovely score. It’s really beautiful music, and when it’s combined with the Coen’s framing and Roger Deakins’ always-fantastic cinematography, it can really take your breath away.

So pop open a bottle of champagne, put on your party hat, and say goodbye to the old year, and be thankful that finally there would be a thingamajig that would bring everyone together, even if it kept them apart spatially.


 

 

 

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Chris Evangelista is the Executive Editor of Cut Print Film & co-host of the Cut Print Film Podcast. He also contributes to /Film, The Film Stage, Birth.Movies.Death, The Playlist, Paste Magazine, Little White Lies and O-Scope Musings. 'The House on Creep Street' and 'Beware the Monstrous Manther!', two horror books for young readers Chris co-authored with J. Tonzelli, are available wherever books are sold. You can follow him on Twitter @cevangelista413 and view his portfolio at chrisevangelista.net

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