Monday, December 10, 2012

25 Days of Christmas Movies 2012 - Day 9 (so very late): Long Live the Hud

I'm late and don't have a lot of time to elaborate so I'm writing this at a breakneck pace.  It's rather like the world of business portrayed in today's film.  This is one I've written about before and yet not as a Christmas movie, though it certainly works as a holiday tale.  First it deals with themes of love, perseverance, and miracles.  Second, it takes place during the holiday season (though it could be argued that the film's climactic scene takes place during New Year's Eve and not Christmas).  But who cares about those details when it works so well as a Christmassy feel-good romp.  Let's watch the underdog win in The Hudsucker Proxy.

Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) is a recent graduate of the Muncie College of Business Administration in 1958 and has just hit the streets of New York City looking for a job. He manages to get a job in the mailroom of Hudsucker Industries at the same time that the company C.E.O., Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning), decides to commit suicide by jumping from the 45th floor window oh his building. Hudsucker's second in command, Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman), realizes at that moment that the company's stock will go public on January 1st and they could lose control of the company to anyone. The board of directors decides that they will hire a fake boss, a proxy, who will look like a huge financial risk and therefore allow the price of the stock to plummet so it can be bought cheaply. Suddenly, after a terrible introduction, Mussburger decides to put Norville in the role of C.E.O. because he has no experience. The stock drops fast and a tenacious reporter named Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) becomes convinced that Norville is a fraud and sets out to expose him. However, Norville has a surprise up his sleeve. Its round, inexpensive, and destined to take the nation by storm. Will the proxy succeed or will the world of business crush him?

I love this movie.  It is just the right mix of surreal send-up and loving homage to films of the 1940s where heros were average joes and the dames were smart and fast-talking.  It shares more in common with films like It's a Wonderful Life than it does with other films of it's day.  It's not much of a crowd-pleaser because of this actually, since it requires some filmic knowledge and a love of the old-fashioned.  Also, it's ridiculous factor (the jokes about suicide, the fast talking, the supernatural last act elements) all seem to come from very different films.  Yet, the film is very well constructed and serves it's purpose quite well.  I love a good old-fashioned film and that's probably why I loved this.  If you love old movies and surreal humor you probably will too.

(I apologize for the slap dash writing, I have to do two of these today).


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