This was my first Coen Brothers movie on the big screen and a real good one too. This one is a satirical parody film written, produced, edited, and directed by the Coen Brothers a real-life “fixer” Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) working in Hollywood in the 1950s, trying to discover what happened to a cast member who vanishes during filming.
There are a lot of references to old Hollywood movies which were completely unknown to me! I had to research a lot about the background of the plot to get a better understanding. This is huge treat for fans of Old Hollywood genre. The movie is set in 1951 and takes place at a transitional time for the film industry. The studio system was breaking down, and a Supreme Court ruling had forced studios to divest their movie theaters. Television, then still in its early years, threatened to pull away audiences. The Cold War and the Red Scare were both underway. Hollywood responded by creating escapist fare: westerns, highly choreographed dance and aquatic spectacles, and, as the film title suggests, Roman epics with massive casts.
I was most excited about this movie for the stellar list of actors and actresses in this movie and all of them have done a superb job even though they have short roles except Josh Brolin and George Clooney who are the lead actors.
Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a tough but conflicted “fixer” who keeps actors’ scandals out of the press.
George Clooney plays Baird Whitlock, a Kirk Douglas-type film star (won’t divulge more as it would spoil the fun!)
Tilda Swinton plays both Thora Thacker and Thessaly Thacker, feuding identical twin sisters/Hedda Hopper-type gossip columnists.
Alden Ehrenreich plays Hobie Doyle, a Kirby Grant-type “singing cowboy” actor and one of Mannix’s clients.
Ralph Fiennes plays Laurence Laurentz, an acclaimed European film director.
Jonah Hill plays Joseph Silverman, a surety agent who works with the studio. (a very short appearance)
Scarlett Johansson plays DeeAnna Moran, an Esther Williams-type actress who becomes pregnant while her film is in production. (As always she looks smoking hot)
Frances McDormand plays film editor C.C. Calhoun (another very short appearance)
Channing Tatum as Burt Gurney, a Gene Kelly-type actor/dancer and communist operative, whose Malibu home is where Baird Whitlock is held after Whitlock is kidnapped by a group of communist writers. Another of Mannix’s clients.
Brolin is mighty effective as the head of production at Capitol Pictures and being chased by Lockheed Corporation courting him with an offer of a high-level executive position but he remains unsure! This definitely wowed the recruiter in me! And then his Church Confessions for being the guilty “I have lied to my wife” husband!
Clooney may be the world’s top celebrity currently but for the Coens, he is simply their favorite nitwit and they love portraying him as the clueless man! Here also he plays with eyes and facial expressions and ensures plenty of comedy kicks.
While the Magic Mike films showed us all that Tatum has a vast array of dance moves and I hope he gets to act in more such dance oriented movies, Tatum proves his class here as a Renaissance man, crooning and tapping as a sailor and lamenting that “mermaids ain’t got no gams.” He even died his hair for this movie! His dance performance while jumping & swooning was simply brilliant.
Alden Ehrenreich playing the young cowboy star is quite a revelation too! His roping skills were better than his dramatic diction but still he was the one for the future! His hairstyle was incredibly awesome as well!
Scarlett Johansson plays the aquatic-movie starlet with no conscience and no lack of potential fathers! And without doubt she looks effortlessly gorgeous.
Tilda Swinton has also brought a lot of humour in digging for scoops about Baird going AWOL! I am sure her huge fan base would be thrilled to see 2 of them!
I mean, it is near impossible to get such a list of superb actors in one movie and only the Coen Brothers could manage such a casting coup as the cliche goes!
I would suggest that you watch the trailer to get a better perspective if you are planning to watch this movie soon. Hail, Caesar Official Trailer
This article was a great help in identifying the films/actors/actresses who were spoofed in the movie! 5 movies to watch before the Coen brothers’ latest
One of the best scenes was the final confrontation between Brolin and Clooney and I am sure Brolin would never get another such opportunity to repeatedly slap the “mighty” Clooney with such impunity and disdain! That scene surely blew me up!
The movie’s not as good as the other comedy/parody movies of the Coens like “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “Intolerable Cruelty” or “The Big Lebowski” but still it is quite an enjoyable affair as a standalone movie. The plot seems quite complicated in the first half but when the sub plots start getting tied together, I got a sense of how well-crafted the film actually is.
It is one of those comedy movies which might not make you laugh manically but would surely bring a lot of subtle smiles to your face throughout the 106 minutes if you follow the plot carefully and waste no time in talking to your friends or fiddling with your mobile!
I was very lucky in this department as there were only 5 other people in the huge theatre when I watched the movie last evening at Cinescape Marina here in Kuwait!
Do go and watch this movie if you are a fan of the Coen Brothers or just a movie buff just like me! I am sure you would come out thoroughly entertained just like I did!
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…