Created by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
"EDDIE MANNIX" was a real life character, a legendary (and allegedly mob-connected) Hollywoood bouncer and fixer who rose through the ranks to become a studio executive at MGM in the nineteen 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 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 conflicted Dudley DoRight, played by the considerably more dashing Josh Brolin, who has previously worked with the Coen Brothers on other films, including True Grit and No Country for Old Men.
The film takes place in the early fifties, as the Hollywood witch hunt starts up and studios' golden era begins to wane. 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, Channing Tatum 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.
Report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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