Created by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
“EDDIE MANNIX” was a real-life character, a legendary (and allegedly mob-connected) Hollywood bouncer and fixer who rose through the ranks to become a studio executive at MGM in the fifties. You may recall his appearance in the 2006 film Hollywoodland, director Allen Coulter and writer Paul Bernbaum’s ambitious take on the murder of Superman actor George Reeves. In that film he was played to slimy, thuggish perfection by Bob Hoskins.
But this ain’t him. In the rip-snorting, big-hearted comedy Hail, Caesar! (2016, Universal) by the Coen Brothers, the character of the notorious bagman is played for laughs. He’s a fixer in this one, a trouble shooter for Capitol Pictures, a conflicted Dudley DoRight, part-doofus and part-thug, played by the considerably more dashing Josh Brolin, who has previously worked with the Coens on other films, including True Grit and No Country for Old Men.
The film takes place in the early fifties, just as the Communist witch hunt starts up and the studios’ golden era begins to wane, pinning their hopes It follows Eddie as he deals with various problems for Capitol, including the kidnapping of a hotshot star, Baird Whitlock (played by George Clooney with clueless perfection), right in the middle of the filming of a major Biblical epic.
Anyone looking for a dark, moody, hard-boiled ride may be out of luck, but fans of movies from that era should lap this up, as the Coens and a great cast (Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and 21 Jump Street buddies Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill) gleefully send up the cinematic and political tropes of the era with verve, wit and not a small amount of affection. More MAD Magazine than Black Mask, maybe, but what a trip!
It’s just a whole lot of fun. Just ask the Girl Detective, who kept telling me not to laugh so loud.
- “(An) underrated satire of Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age.’ There’s no need to persuade the CrimeReads audience to embrace the darkside; rather, it’s the lightside that could use a little extra love every once in a while. Does it cancel itself out that the darkest brothers in cinema—the Coens—are behind it?… But it’s a comedy! It’s optimistic! And it’s the Coen Bros, so we’re not talking rainbows and puppies (it centers around an abduction)—you won’t by any means be cringing at overly wholesome content—but you must be willing to take one risk: watching the credits roll with a smile on your face.”
— Camille LeBlanc (September 2019, CrimeReads)
- HAIL, CAESAR! | Buy on DVD | Buy on Blu-Ray | Watch it now!
Written, directed and produced by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Premiere: February 6, 2016
StarringJosh Brolin as EDDIE MANNIX
Also starring George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Alden Ehrenreich