Hail, Caesar

"We let a woman come between us." "Let's frame her." "..." "Yeah, I'm dry too."
“We let a woman come between us.”
“Let’s frame her.”
“She’s looking a little green.”
“Yeah, I’m dry too.”

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a Hollywood studio fixer in the early 1950s; a man who oils the wheels of production and makes things happen. Or, more usually, makes them unhappen, when they involve his stars’ sexual indiscretions.

His most immediate problem is tracking down leading man Baird Whitlock, who’s gone AWOL from a sword-and-sandal epic. Turns out Baird has been kidnapped by disgruntled screenwriters (is there any other kind?) of the Communistic persuasion.

Eddie’s side problems include keeping America’s Sweetheart’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy out of the papers, and turning a cowboy star (Alden Ehrenreich, brilliant) into Noel Coward overnight.

But the not-very-high-stakes plot plays second banana here: its main purpose is to link a series of cameos and spectacular/tongue-in-cheek soundstage set pieces paying tribute to the golden/cheesy age of Hollywood – song-and-dance numbers, synchronised swimmers, stirring oratories, trick riding, society melodrama.

Despite references to the McCarthyist mood of the era, the Coen Brothers keep it all witty. 8/10


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