Guest Author - Karen L Hardison
An entry level job passes the mezzanine and lands at the 45th floor in the company’s president’s chair. The Hudsucker Proxy is part dark humor, part 1920s shtick, part farce and is not suitable for anyone younger than 13.
The Hudsucker Proxy is directed by Joel Coen and written by both Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen brothers are a directorial team that Tim Dirks of FilmSite.org classifies as “directors with cult status.”
In The Hudsucker Proxy, Mr. Hudsucker, company founder, owner and President, jumps off a skyscraper to the New York City street below. He comes back every now and then sporting wings and a halo. Thus begins The Hudsucker Proxy. The dilemma is that a new company president is needed very quickly.
The Hudsucker stock is strong with a high market price. When the president of the company made so bold as to jump from the 44th floor (45th counting the mezzanine) he left no will and no family, meaning that his 87 percent share of the company stock would be released to the stock market on January 1st, in "thirty days", in "four weeks", in "a month at the most!" This will spell doom for the board members who...will...lose...control of...Hudsucker's! To avert said loss, they must buy enough of the soon-to-be common stock to establish a “50 percent. 51 percent” controlling interest.
However, at Hudsucker’s current strong market price, the cost of acquiring the needed 38 shares would be high, very high. The plan is decided upon, then, to manipulate the company so as to drive the stock price into the ground via a nosedive, then buy up the needed 38 percent for a song—and that ain’t whistlin’ Dixie! To do this, the board of directors needs a new president "someone we can really push around," quoth Paul Newman (must have been before he went organic) as Sindey J. Mussburger.
Designated "schmo," Norville Barnes, played by Tim Robbins, is newly ensconced in an entry level mail room job at Hudsucker’s. Norville is asked—after first setting his foot ablaze and other incidentals—to assume the chair of President of Hudsucker Company. He is hard pressed to refuse, mostly because he is hard pressed to sit and stay.
Here enters the lady reporter, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh as Amy Archer, who sees straight through Norville, which Julia Roberts tells Hugh Grant in Knotting Hill is "not good." Norville Barnes surprises everyone, however, when he invents one of the world's best toys—the hoola hoop, or rather the hoopla. Which is a bad thing for the Hudsucker Company. The already strong stock climbs in value and gets stronger and stronger. There go the plans of the ardent members of the board, who, if you recall, are desirous of manipulating Hudsucker’s so the stock will weaken and go down, down, down.
Tim Robbins and Paul Newman are perfectly cast in The Hudsucker Proxy, each adding to the slightly eerie, bigger-than-life tone of ridiculousness of The Hudsucker Proxy. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a charming, though brusque, sane spot in the over-exaggerated hoopla that is The Hudsucker Proxy.
The Hudsucker Proxy always has a strange appeal to new generations of viewers, partly due to the witty though wry writing. It's rightly rated PG-13, so it is actually not suitable for anyone below eighth grade--it just isn't. The mildly garish nature of The Hudsucker Proxy is enough to be unsettling to younger minds that are building world-view models.
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