Slate Money Goes to the Movies: The Hudsucker Proxy

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S1: This and free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Hello and welcome to the Hudsucker Proxy episode of Sleep. Money goes to the movies, I’m Felix Salmon of Axios. I’m here with Emily Peck. Hello. And we have the one and only Katherine Bell with us. Katherine, welcome.

S2: Thank you. It’s great to be here.

S1: Introduce yourself. Who are

S2: you? I’m the editor in chief of Quartz.

S1: Quartz is a fabulous publication that was originally started by The Atlantic and then became Japanese for a minute. And now you are independent?


S2: Yes, we did a management buyout last fall.

S1: So braving the wilds of new media, I need to ask you, before we get into the Hudsucker Proxy, how many SPAC approaches have you had in 2021?

S2: That is confidential.

S1: OK, this this episode, we are not going to learn about specs. We are going to learn about a much earlier form of capitalism with elevators and vacuum tubes and straight lines and hula hoops and nostalgia and wisecracking, fast talking reporters and magical lachmann and all manner of things which may or may not be problematic. All tied up by the Coen brothers in a fanciful concoction that is known as the Hudsucker Proxy. We will be taking it apart and giving it grades. Coming up on Slaked money goes to the movies. So Katherine, do you remember where were you when you first saw the Hudsucker Proxy?


S2: I was in my living room. I just saw it for the.


S1: Oh, wow. OK, so this is this. You were new to the Hudsucker Proxy. Are you a Coen Brothers fan? We just missed this one. Or you not really a brothers person.

S2: I’m not really a Coen brothers person, OK? I was curious, but

S1: your brother is curious and this one is definitely it doesn’t have the macabre sort of bloodiness of some of the other one. So that’s maybe a good entry. It’s definitely very stylish.

S2: It is very stylish, which I knew going in, which is one of the reasons I wanted to. I mean,

S1: can you even think of a movie with better fonts?


S3: It was all style and no substance. Oh, that’s good, but it’s bad.

S1: Oh. Oh, Emily comes out swinging. Oh no. Katherine would you agree with Emily harsh verdict here? I really enjoyed it.

S2: I think it’s kind of true, but I think it’s the point. So I agree. In terms of the characters, they were missing a lot of depth. But I think that the lack of depth in the rest of it was on purpose in a way that I ended up thinking this really interesting, huh?

S3: Well, before we get in, should we talk about what the movie is about? A little let’s talk.

S1: There is there is a very slender thread of plot, I suppose that. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Which which kind of perhaps matters. I mean, for me, the movie is all about the inner circles and lines. But really it’s I guess the ostensible excuse for the movie is this kind of like Capra esque fairy tale. Yeah. Emily how would you characterize the plot? I guess you’re going to be rude about that too.


S3: No, I’ll be unroofed. It is it takes place in 1958 and it involves a very super corporate 1958 ish atmosphere at the top of a building that kind of looks like the Empire State Building. And the guy who runs the company, the CEO, Mr. Hudsucker, he jumps out the window, the 44th floor, not counting the mezzanine and sets off the chain of events. That makes the movie entertaining. He apparently and we can get into this like the stock, his stock is going to revert back to the public. And Paul Newman, who heads up the board of directors, I think decides he’s going to make the stock price fall really far so that they can scoop up all the stock and control the company. So they’re going to bring in a stooge to run the whole thing. The Stooges, Tim Robbins, who only plays stooges from the 90s through the early aughts, I think, and maybe as one of the issues I have with this film. So he comes in as the stooge and he has a great invention, which is a circle on a piece of paper, which we can talk about. And Jennifer, Jason Leigh is involved because she’s like the sassy screwball journalist who, you know, is going to take him down. But then somehow, for some reason, I don’t understand, falls in love with Tim Robbins. And that’s kind of the plot. Right.


S1: And then it has a ridiculous Dave, you know, like weird like cosmic ending as well, just to make it even more unreal and fanciful.

S3: Yes.

S2: With another fall from the forty

S1: four with another fall for the fourth. And I

S3: mean,

S1: no, don’t never forget the mezzanine, but when you start it you think, oh right. This is the producer’s right. The idea is that what we want to do is create a complete bomb and then someone comes along and inadvertently winds up with a hit.


S3: Yes.

S2: Right. Which you know, is what’s going to happen from the very beginning

S3: because circle is a

S1: circle. Well, the circle is a hula hoop, although like it’s other things. It’s also like if you look at it a different way, it’s also like the cross section of a bendy drinking straw and later it becomes a Frisbee like circles. So everything that is good and pure in this movie and straight lines and everything that is straight laced and corporate and the whole movie is about the tension between circles and lines.


S2: Well, well. And this circle is even the halo. Yeah. The halo moves in exactly the way that

S1: he actually says.

S2: He’s like he’s talking

S1: we’re all wearing these these cool little hula hoop halos now, says the ghost of Mr. Hudsucker.

S4: And like that thing, we’re all wearing him upstairs to fat.

S3: Anyway, I totally missed that. I think by that point in the movie, towards the end, I was like, I hate this movie. I just I hated it. It has that Coen brothers issue of like, it’s clever and funny, but it has no heart. And I feel like they didn’t figure out the hard part until a few years later. This movie was nineteen ninety four and then Big Lebowski and Fargo come out Fargo’s ninety six and the Bass’s ninety eight. And I think those movies kind of figured out like the heart, but these characters like I just couldn’t key into them and I need that. I can only have a circle’s Felix I need more, I need a sphere.


S1: So this movie came out the same year as Forrest Gump and Forrest Gump is another one of those naifs who is improbably successful. And Forrest Gump, the movie was vastly more successful than the Hudsucker Proxy, which just kind of sank more or less without a trace, although people with hindsight are beginning to be nicer about it. Are you saying that the reason is that Forrest Gump managed to do a better job of more overtly tugging on heartstrings and making you care about characters?


S3: One hundred percent. Tom Hanks is greater than Tim Robbins, like you care about Tom Hanks, his character in Forrest Gump. He’s like lovable and likable. And I just Tim Robbins, his character in this movie when Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character. What is her name? Amy Archer. Amy Herge. Norville Barnes when she falls in. Love with him, I’m honestly, I was so perplexed, like, why I don’t maybe you guys can tell me.


S2: Well, that was the writing, though. I mean, I’m not defending Tim Robbins, but, oh, my

S1: gosh,

S2: writing was like that for every character. They would just have these I mean, they were all extremes. It was just like a cartoon and they would switch from one extreme to another. So when Norvelle becomes the president, he switches immediately into being this bad guy who’s lying around being massaged and taking things for granted. And it’s such a sudden complete change that you don’t really believe it. And. Right. And Amy falling in love with him. I didn’t believe it the entire time. Yeah.

S3: And we should also talk about because we are journalists and this whole idea that she’s like undercover, I know the plot doesn’t matter Felix, but like the whole idea that a journalist would, like, go undercover and lie about who she is to get inside a company that is far fetched. Like even in the 1950s, no one was doing that. Right.


S1: Just to get back in the 1950s, there was no such thing as journalistic ethics in the 1950s, you know?

S3: Well, it would be easier to get the story, but yeah, I guess that is the writing. We don’t have to blame the acting like they just didn’t give any depth to any characters.


S1: In terms of the character, it reminded me quite a lot of trading places and in fact, the scene where Norvelle is being chased through the streets by a bunch of irate people who blame him for, remember what they were blaming him for, but reminded me very much of the scenes with Dan Aykroyd in trading places when he was, you know, down at the low point of that movie. And meanwhile, the overnight embrace of luxury is exactly the trajectory of the Eddie Murphy character. Right. So, like these tropes are not unique to this movie. And in fact, I don’t think the movie makes any claims that originality. I think it’s just this very sort of nostalgic attempt to to paint a picture of. How we dream the American business, like the stereotype of American business in the 1950s and how it worked and how we can sort of put it lovely sort of Vaseline lens on the whole thing.


S3: Yeah. And I felt like I kept asking myself, like, is this a satire of business? Or like you said, Felix is just more like this is what we think business was like in the 1950s.

S1: And I think it’s is it a satire in the way that, like Brazil is a satire with, you know, the vacuum tubes and the bureaucracy that get started off that way? Right.

S2: Yeah, it it felt like the whole thing was a critique of capitalism and that it was obsessed with that the entire time. But I read one thing in the review where it said that the Coen brothers were reading about people talking about the big ideas of capitalism in it, and they said that they were just completely uninterested in that entirely. So I think for them it was more about the movies. They were interested in being derivative of those earlier movies in a way. And those earlier movies had been obsessed with capitalism


S3: like the His Girl Friday and Howard Hawks kind of screwball comedies of the 30s, kind of fast talking dames, that kind of thing.

S2: I think so, yeah. And then the architecture, too, of some of those movies, Metropolis and things like that.

S3: There were parts of the film at the beginning, I really did like the beginning, after he jumps up the window and palm,

S1: the open tried to.

S3: And then when they announced the death of the president of the company over the loudspeaker,

S4: attention, Hudsucker Emily attention Hudsucker employees. We regretfully announce that at 30 seconds after the hour of noon, Hudsucker time wearing Hudsucker founder, president and chairman of the Board of Hudsucker Industries merged with the Internet.

S3: And then they do a moment of silence and then they announce that you won’t be paid for the moment of silence.

S4: Thank you for your kind attention. This moment has been duly noted on your timecards and will be deducted from your pay. That is all.

S3: That was wonderful. Like I loved all of that. I just I don’t feel like they sustained that kind of magical humor throughout. And it wasn’t enough to carry a movie, you know.

S1: But tell me actually, I mean, I’m interested since you have spent a bunch of time looking at business. There is this. Hollywood caricature of business, where it’s like the food production line, but kind of taken to the Nth Degree and you see it everywhere from, as I say, from Brazil to Willy Wonka to Metropolis to maybe even something like the fifth element of Blade Runner, where everything is this kind of dystopian humans become cogs in this heartless big machine. And you can really see the machine. This is a visible machine and it’s got big skyscrapers with lots of lines in them. And I keep on going back to the vacuum tubes and everyone knows exactly where that place is. And there are hierarchies and there are lots of rubber stamps and there’s lots of middle management. And virtually everyone seems to be in middle management. And it’s gray suits. And Hollywood loves to present or certainly loved to present business in that kind of light. And I want to know, was that reaction? Was that like them reflecting reality? Was there a time that business was like that?


S2: Well, one thing I was thinking about a lot while I was watching it is just how physical everything was, which was weird because the physical spaces were really abstract in one way and it sort of looked like theater sets some of the time, not even movie sets, because it was so kind of abstracted. But every aspect of business in it was incredibly physical in this very 20th century way. And I was thinking about how it came out in nineteen ninety four, right. When things were starting to go digital. And this was sort of looking back to a time where the mailroom was incredibly busy and everything about the mailroom was physical. The stock ticker, they keep going back to the stuff and picking it up and looking at it, you know, and you know, even just like when they get mad at each other, they slap each other. And the newspaper I mean, the newspaper office, everything is real and touchable. And I think there was a sense in which that changed the way things work. I think, like when that stopped, when so much of what we do became digital. I mean, I’m sure I’m thinking about this even more intensely now where we’ve been in this year, plus have not even seen each other at all. And everything’s become completely digital. And in the world of business, that isn’t about manufacturing, that was something I kept thinking about the whole time.

S1: But was it real? Like I mean, I feel like it wasn’t real in 1994. I have this idea that perhaps even though General Electric in 1958 might have been organized along those kind of lines or some big company, but I don’t know, like maybe it wasn’t, were there ever companies like that?


S2: But you did have the Taylor system, right, where they were figuring out how to make employees kind of work like an assembly line and and trying to figure out how to apply those kinds of systems to people’s time, as well as to the machines themselves. What’s the Talercio?

S1: Oh, that’s men following each other around with clipboards, trying to sort of work out how many minutes it takes to do every part of your job.

S2: Right. And then adjusting it to make it really efficient. So I do think that that was an aspect of how things ran and more people had jobs that were really concrete and repetitive than people do in white collar work now.

S3: Yeah, 1994. That is when I think Windows Microsoft Windows was really the one that sort of changed everything because I was in college or finishing up college in 1994. Like we didn’t do anything on computers back then. It was all physical. I had a word processor still. And I think the portrayal of the office 1994 was maybe the like the last year where like the Hudsucker Proxy is portrayal of office life was relatable to a modern person, even though it’s wildly unrelatable.

S2: I mean, it was also way more extreme, but closer to reality than now, even in terms of like the hierarchy, the way the hierarchy was matched by the level of floors and the office buildings. So the enormous, enormous, crazy executive suites and the kinds of luxuries they had with, you know, massages in the boardroom and cigars everywhere now and a lot of executive suites, it’s they’re not separate. Even people working open plan offices, even if they’re the CEO. And a lot of


S1: it’s like it’s Mike Bloomberg putting himself in the middle of the bullpen. Right.

S2: Right, exactly. So that hierarchy has changed drastically. And then another another thing was all the sexual harassment. It was a lot of sexual harassment

S3: and only one woman being sexually harassed basically over and over. That the tired old plotline of like she’s a career woman and she’s too hard and it’s all a shell and really she’s soft inside and just wants to get married. That bothered me. Just looks. Yeah, it’s the other thing I thought about was just like the whole product that they were making and how this could never be in twenty, twenty one. There’s not a big conglomerate all focused on making one individual product in that way. That’s not a tech products like today. It would be like a guy who thought of the hula hoop and then would outsource it to China and sell it on Amazon and it would be a fad for like a month and then it would go away and then it would be sold, you know, on every street in Manhattan for like seventy five cents or something.

S1: Like the spinners

S3: fidget spinners exactly like the whole company would not be saved by the stock of a company, would not be saved by a fidget spinner now.

S1: Well, I feel like the Hudsucker Corporation was already like far too big for hula hoop to be able to drive its stock to record highs. That was maybe, maybe, maybe lacking in complete verisimilitude words.

S3: Well, you don’t need anything to drive your stock to record highs in twenty, twenty one. You just need a

S1: 20 at the end, 20, 21 zeland to tweet about you. Yeah.


S3: Maybe a circle picture. If Elon tweeted a circle, what would that do for Tesla’s stock price?

S2: Who knows what would happen

S1: to the moon is the opposite of the cyber drug with all of its hard angles.

S3: Speaking of the portrayal of women in this movie, I was a little uncomfortable and weirded out by like the magical black man who ran the clock. That was a little uncomfortable. I didn’t quite know what to do with that in twenty twenty one. Did you have thoughts about that? Either of you?

S2: As soon as he showed up, I was like, they’re going to make him.

S3: But yeah, I don’t know. This was also the same year Shawshank Redemption came out. I don’t know. I was like, why is it Morgan Freeman playing this character? But he was too busy in The Shawshank Redemption.

S1: So, yeah, I guess they decided they needed an actual character to play God. So they found like some avuncular black guy to be in charge of the clocks, which is the very. But I mean, the clock is the symbol of, you know, the working day of life, of the way in which humans have to sort of insert themselves into the machine. That is the workspace. Right. And that’s the big sort of metaphor that really drives the whole movie for all the we live in very different workspaces now. We interact very differently to workspaces. It doesn’t feel as impersonal in the same way. You don’t feel like you’re just a cog in the machine necessarily in the way that perhaps people did back in the fifties or even in the nineties. That whole question of trying to understand the relationship between yourself and your employer and solving those tensions, that never goes away. Right, because I feel like employers are now just saying like, oh, yeah, no, we’re super friendly people who you should like to work for us and then just give us your entire lives, because that’s what you want.


S2: Well, the amount that you can control your own time or at least the illusion of being able to control your own time is definitely something that’s changed a lot for some of us. But if we were working in an Amazon warehouse, that same kind of control over every single minute of your time would absolutely still be there or even.

S1: Yeah, working as an Amazon driver, they really I mean, that’s that’s the modern Taylorism right there.

S3: Right? Right. We’re used to all be in it together in terms of clock watching and the time aspect of work. And now it’s more bifurcated. And this movie predates that probably a little

S2: bit, except at the very top where he’s just playing golf and getting massages.

S3: I love all the work stuff in here, the Christmas party, but the title on the invitation was like Fancy Christmas party

S2: and the wives.

S1: Yes, well, the wife said that was that was why he wound up killing himself. Right. Was because he was in love with one of those wives he wound up marrying and Paul Newman instead.

S2: But she was the secretary, too, so it was the same story.

S3: Yeah, I feel like the Coen brothers thought they were being really ahead of their time and progressive with bringing stuff like that up or having the black man play the timekeeper, but it just doesn’t come off. Now, looking at it, it’s just like, oh, no, like Mad Men did a better job

S2: not feeling at those. I mean, it almost felt like they were enjoying the ability to be able to use those tropes because they were doing it in this nostalgic way, because they were setting it in the past. They were still getting to do it. You know, there wasn’t that much satire. Should those pieces.


S1: No, no. It was definitely more nostalgic and it was satirical.

S3: Yeah, why would anyone be nostalgic for this, I’m not sure for the Alford’s.

S1: Of the just the architecture, if nothing else, you know, the amazing 1930s architecture. I mean, the production design of this movie, I mean, I know you didn’t like the movie Emily, but you have to admit the production design was amazing.

S2: Yeah, the furniture was amazing. It looked great. Furniture was great. The outfits were good. Really good

S1: outfit. I mean, never, never in any movie before or since has a stock ticker, a look so good.

S3: That’s true. Can you one of you enlighten me. Like what do they see on the ticker. What does it actually look like? Is it just stock symbols and prices and that’s it?

S1: Well, I mean, that’s that’s a bespoke stocktake for just the Hudsucker Corporation right now. Every time there’s a trade in Hudsucker Corp., it will print out that trade and it will tell you what the price was and how many shares were traded.

S3: Oh, my God. OK, I didn’t understand what you imagine until right now.

S1: Can you imagine that for AMC?

S3: It would be impossible.

S2: I was curious about how that machine actually worked.

S3: Are there any stock tickers today that we can go see Felix

S1: just turn on CNBC and go along with the

S3: paper?

S1: Oh, wait. Well, yeah, that’s what I knew. I used to work down on lower Broadway where they have ticker tape parades. Right. And nowadays there’s literally no ticker tape anymore. No one even prints out stock tickers on ticker tape. So whenever there’s a ticker tape parade, there’s some like random part of New York City government which goes around all of the office buildings on Broadway and hands over pieces of shredded paper that you then throw out the windows because all the tape that people used to use just doesn’t exist anymore.


S3: I feel like no one thinks about the office and work the way this movie is showing it to us. Like it’s totally it’s so different now. I like the trope that work is this like cold, heartless place has been. Obscured, it’s still a cold, heartless place, but now it’s obscured in all this, like happy talk and snacks and like black channels where you talk about like what your favorite movie is or whatever, like, OK, but the point is at the bottom of it all, it’s still a cold, heartless place. Did we already talk about this?

S1: So here’s my question. Here’s the question is, is like, was it weirdly just much more honest? Peck this is what a cold, heartless managers were like. I’m going to be cold and heartless and Paul Newman and I’m going to crush the little guys rather than now when this man is just saying snacks. Yes.

S2: Well, part of what I think is more honest in a way, or at least interpreting a similar thing in the opposite way is that there there was nothing in between the mailroom or operating the elevator or being the person who has to change the names on the door and get off the paint when somebody is being replaced and being on the board or running the company, except for two or three secretaries, there’s nothing in between that. And now we pretend that everybody’s in between that.

S1: One of the movies we covered in the first season was Working Girl. I’m working girl starts with that same idea that you just have the secretaries who are No. One, and then you have these masters of the universe dealmakers who have all of the power and all of the money, and there’s nothing in between. And then you have that sort of triumphant ending where Melanie Griffith gets promoted and gets a job offer and she’s like, she’s no longer a secretary, she’s now someone. And then the very final shot of working girl is from the outside of her office window, pulling back further and further to reveal that she’s just like one office window among 10000 office windows. And she is like now deeply entrenched as like junior middle management. And this is her new cubicle that she’s never going to be able to escape, which will only come to the very, very end of that last little sort of Mike Nichols knife twist at the end of that movie. But I think yet in general, the movies are very good at the way in which low level employment robs you of any kind of agency. And they’re very good at the sort of heartlessness of the bosses. But the weird limbo zone in the middle is something that no one ever makes movies about.


S3: Yeah, you made me think of how there was a time in corporate America where you could get a job in the mailroom or as a janitor even and work your way up to the C suite or the executive or management level.

S1: Wasn’t that like Ursula Burns?

S3: Yeah, exactly. That’s the Ursula Burns story. And I think there was like a great New York Times piece a few years ago about how this is an avenue completely cut off now, because in the modern workplace, we outsource all those low level jobs now. And there’s no way ever, ever someone from the mailroom would make it across. But like, that was a real possibility back then. So in a way, like though, it seems like a much more hierarchical workforce that actually for men anyway, white men it wasn’t or even

S1: for Ursula Burns or for is neither white nor women. But it can be done.

S3: Yeah, it can be done. It could be

S2: the idea that you be somewhere for a really long time. But everybody in that movie seemed to have been there forever.

S3: The guy in the mailroom who’s like the forty years I might get a promotion soon.

S4: How long you been here? Forty eight years. Next year they moved me up parshall’s if I’m lucky.

S1: But is there something about the hypocrisies of the modern corporation that make it just like much less cinematic? I feel like we watch The Social Network as part of the last season and none of us really loved that movie, especially with hindsight. And part of the problem, again, there is it’s hard to show the sort of dystopia that is Facebook in a movie because it’s people who are sitting on soft furnishings, like hanging out with their laptops. Like, how bad is that?


S3: We have talked about not on the Slate goes to the movies podcast, but on the Slate succession podcast. They managed to pull off a very stylized look for the workplace, the modern politics. Yeah. And Volter. So it can’t be done. You know, it doesn’t have to be like some schlub in a sweatpants staring at the zoom or whatever. Not that I’m wearing sweatpants right now. They’re joggers,

S2: but what happens now in everyone’s remote if you can’t have the office interactions with each other? If everyone’s doing that on

S3: Slaid, I don’t know how you make a workplace movie right now that maybe you make it in the Amazon warehouse.

S2: The office was great because they were all forced to be in one room together. All right.

S1: OK, so Emily, I’m going to start with you because we need to just get the haters out of the way first. What grade would you give the Hudsucker Proxy?

S3: I really want to talk and Amy Archer’s ridiculous accent, but I want you, yeah, give it a four out of five. No, I’ll give it not a four out of five. Take that out. I would. Yeah, give it a C plus. I mean, it looked good and the beginning was really funny, but it had no heart. And ultimately I have to give it a thumbs down, as did most critics at the time

S1: who were wrong. I’m going to come out and say that like there’s something gloriously simple and beautiful about this movie and it can be enjoyed as just an opera of. Symbols and ideas and sheer cornball corniness and put together in the very sort of elegant way, I mean, that beautiful scene in the middle right in the middle of the movie with the hula hoop rolling down the street, when suddenly all of this appears in the Browns light, you get that beautiful red hula hoop and the boy howling and it’s hilarious. And how can you not watch that scene and just smile? It’s impossible. You have to enjoy it.


S3: I loved all the kids storming out of school and running into the streets. That was amazing. You’d never see that today. And then just dumbfounded by the boy who was doing the hula hooping that way.

S1: Yeah. Now they’ll just be slouching out of school on their phones.

S2: You had the pleasure and the hula hoops was amazing. Both the part where they were actually made. That scene where you’re watching them be extruded out of the machine was just incredible. And then the way everyone talks about the sand and how the sand in them gives it extra pleasure.

S4: It’s fun, it’s healthy, it’s good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant, which it does.

S2: Yeah, it does. It’s true. And there’s something so pure about it. And I loved the way everybody learned to do hula hooping naturally, perfectly immediately. It’s hard to

S3: argue with doing it like around his ankle and his neck. Like, I could never

S1: I mean, Tim Robbins is great, who I am reminded of one of the most impressive feats of hula hooping I’ve ever seen. It was Grace Jones on the steps of Buckingham Palace doing a concert when she was like in her 70s and just hula hooping the entire time because she’s Grace Jones.

S2: So I’m going to be on YouTube this second week and

S3: that’s

S1: on me. So, yeah, the sheer joy of hula hoops alone is enough to give this movie for me. I would say an A minus.

S3: I did also love. Now you’re making me think more about this, the scene where they come up with the name for the hula hoop. They call it


S4: the Flying Donat, the Dancing Genius Ballet. Go round the wacky circumference and call me.

S3: And there’s the two guys are serious in the brainstorming room, I think it’s called, and you see their shadows through the window and the secretary is sitting out front reading War and Peace

S2: and then Anna Karenina, she’s

S1: making her way through

S3: and they just come up with who? But I feel there is a brilliant and

S1: that wonderful the seriousness with which the vast resources of the corporation are marshaled in the service of this circle. It’s this wonderful, wonderful part of the movie. And you know, where they’re like exploding people to see whether it can withstand an explosion. It’s great. You see you see you do like after

S3: giving me a little bit more appreciation for this film. I think part of it also and we have to get to Katherine rating, but part of it also is just watching a movie at home. I get distracted much more easily. And if it hasn’t captured my heart, I’m going to be like, what’s on Twitter, though? And then put up over Twitter and try to like it’s just harder for me to watch a film at home sometimes, especially if it’s and this

S1: is this is definitely a movie to see in the cinema as well, because it’s

S2: on

S1: the green, especially the opening title sequence where, you know, the clock strikes 12:00 and everything goes white. And yeah, I mean, and it’s all perfectly timed up with music and they care. They’re artists of the Coen brothers and they make they make it look just beautiful. There’s basically not a single frame of this movie that isn’t beautiful. Yes.


S3: And now I’m thinking more about how much effort corporations put into the smallest things that shouldn’t take a lot of time. Like I recently heard about someone saying former journalists write tweets for executives like that’s a job that they’re hired to do. That takes a really long time to write a tweet for an executive. Like, it’s just amazing the things that companies spend money on. Those little things

S2: because of that stuck to it could affect it.

S1: Well, my friend Ryan McManus wrote this piece about, you know, those little numbers on the side of truck doors. There is like one, two and then three, four. And then it goes up to like nine zero. And it’s a little code you can use to get into the truck. This piece of, I guess like 1980s technology, which seemed really cool in the 1980s, has survived on to the F1 Fifty Lightning, you know, the most high tech truck in the history of automobiles. And when people saw that, they were like, why is this 40 year old piece of push a coat of buttons to get into the truck? Like, why is that still on this Super High-Tech Electric Vehicle? There were lots and lots of really good reasons. It’s one of the most thought through and carefully designed pieces of technology in cars and cars have a lot of like very small details. Like how? The you know, the sticks were for putting on the blinkers or turning on the windscreen wipers or whatever, it was a very small and carefully designed, but that one item which allows you to do things which were otherwise entirely impossible, like, for instance, separate permissions for who can drive the truck and who can get into the truck. Huh? You can give someone like the code to the truck to allow them to get into it, to be able to, you know, fetch the beers or whatever. But just because you have the code doesn’t mean you can drive. You still need the key to be able to drive it, that kind of thing, anyway. And you can open it with gloves really easily because you’re pushing you don’t need to fiddle with your phone. It’s thought through. And it’s one of those things. Ford is a good example of one of those corporate is the other example of the production line of the big company that makes decisions in a very distributed way across lots of memos with triplicate and rubber stamps and pneumatic tubes and stuff. And Ford, for all of its weaknesses, it makes cars the people love. It makes the best selling car, best selling vehicle in the history of America, like the number one best selling vehicle in America for what, like twenty five years straight has been one.


S3: Thirty five years. It was going to be my numbers for the past three weeks, but I forget, forget every time.

S1: Anyway, we’re digressing wildly here. Katherine, what is your grade for this here movie.

S2: So I’ll give it a B plus. I’m, I’m close to you. I love Felix that you compared it to an opera because I think I approached it and sort of that way where I was willing to throw myself into it, even though it was really on the surface in terms of the plot. But everything else about it made up for it and was so dramatic and pleasurable and made me think about things, you know, even if it wasn’t intentional, the Coen brothers may not have cared about the history of capitalism in the twentieth century, but I do. And it was interesting, you know, their motives and the way they constructed that piece of art made me think about things in a way that I really enjoyed. So I would have liked it better if it had real characters. And, you know, I was particularly disappointed, I guess, in the Amy Archer and the newspaper. I wanted to love her and I just didn’t. So if it had had characters with heart and complexity on top of everything else, it would have been.

S1: I believe the Hudsucker Proxy does make the incredibly long Joanne Liepman list of movies where a female reporter sleeps with her sources.

S3: She sent us such a long list. It was really remarkable all over the map. So many movies. We will talk about some of them this season.

S1: She’s coming on the show and we’re going to. Yeah, I mean, it is one of the most tired Hollywood tropes. Was it already a tired Hollywood trope in 1994? I guess it must have been right, because that was that was what they were making fun of, in a way.


S3: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a movie, His Girl Friday that, you know, has the fast talking female journalists. And it’s all about her relationship with, I believe, a male reporter. We might need to cut this out. I think it’s loosely the character and his girl Friday is like what you want Amy Archer to be in this movie. You know, she

S1: just like any any female character in, like a Billy Wilder film, basically just like wisecracking and. Yeah, yeah. And nothing but

S3: something else there, you know.

S1: Yeah. Oh sure. It a classic like Katharine Hepburn role or something like that.

S3: Yes. For some reason. I mean again it’s the writing just like you said, or maybe it should have been Frances McDormand or something.

S1: It should have been Frances McDormand if in doubt cast Frances McDormand. This is this is a rule that the Coen brothers did eventually come around to. Yeah, they think they figured it out. They wound up at least one of them even wound up marrying her, which is always a good move. So, yeah, maybe this would have been a great film if only had the presence of Frances McDormand. That was maybe that that’s that’s the the final verdict that we can agree on. Emily, thank you for bringing your skepticism to this show. Even though you’re wrong,

S3: you are back

S1: and Katherine. It’s been so great having you. We’ll get you on a normal slate, regular slate soon as well then.

S2: So find out about that

S1: and we’ll be back next Tuesday with even more sleep. Money goes to the movie.