The Hudsucker Proxy

USA, 1994, PG. Director: Joel Coen. Stars: Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman.

The Coen brothers, the outta-left-field geniuses who brought us Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, and the stunningly amazingly brilliantly fantastic Barton Fink, came up with the goods once more in 1994's unjustly-ignored screwball comedy The Hudsucker Proxy. Maybe the title did for it—although Reversal of Fortune did well with one equally as unimpressive, so who knows.

Whatever. Hudsucker deserves your attention. It's full of classic gags, subtle and unsubtle, played out against its deliciously Wall-Street-gothic sets by Tim Robbins (as a naive dunderhead) and Paul Newman (beautifully cast, against his usual type, as a scheming tycoon). Robbins plays the "proxy" of the title, Norville Barnes, installed as puppet president of Hudsucker Industries by Newman and a conniving board so that share prices will plummet and they can buy up the company cheap. But Barnes has hidden talents and one sterling idea, and spurred on by a canny reporter (Leigh) he sets about making Hudsucker the name on every American's lips—and hips.

The film's full of quietly hilarious scenes, typically well-observed Coen moments, and beautiful throwaway lines ("You must be Amy Archer—the Prizitser Pool winner"). One of 1994's best.


First published in a reviews booklet of the ANU Film Group.
This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1995, 2000 Rory Ewins