cowboys and folk music, the Coens' 'Hail' Hollywood's
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[February 04, 2016]
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For
more than thirty years, Joel and Ethan Coen have tackled
almost every film genre, from stoner comedy "The Big
Lebowski" to revenge Western "True Grit" and the 1960s
New York folk music scene in 2013's "Inside Llewyn
But for their latest caper, the filmmaker brothers found
themselves inspired by something a little closer to home -
Hollywood's Golden Age.
"Hail, Caesar!," out in U.S. theaters Friday, follows a
stress-filled couple of days in the life of Eddie Mannix (Josh
Brolin), a fixer at a major Hollywood film studio who is dealing
with the mysterious kidnapping of his leading man Baird Whitlock
Mannix must deal with two nosey twin gossip columnists (Tilda
Swinton), a pregnant leading lady (Scarlett Johansson) and a
punctilious director (Ralph Fiennes) trying to make a star out
of a bumbling young cowboy (Alden Ehrenreich).
Then there are the suspicious movements of singing-and-dancing
spectacle Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum).
"It's hard to be in (Los Angeles) for any length of time and not
feel like it must have been great in the 40s and the 50s," Ethan
Coen told Reuters.
"So much of it has gone but there's enough of it left to suggest
what it might have been like."
Hollywood's glamorous facade is a world away from the small town
crime wave in 1996's "Fargo," the underground folk music scene
that the Coens explored in "Llewyn Davis" or the suburban
dynamics in "Burn After Reading."
"It's a different world and the exotic nature (of Hollywood),
that's part of the attraction," Joel Coen said.
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With the exception of Mannix, who is inspired by the real-life Eddie
Mannix, a fixer at Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer during the 1930s through
1960s, all the characters are fictional hybrids of real Golden Age
Clooney's Whitlock has roots in Cary Grant, Johansson's
smart-talking aquatic actress DeeAnna Moran has shades of Ester
Williams and Lana Turner, Swinton's dual role as Thessaly and Thora
Thacker is derived from influential Hollywood gossip Hedda Hopper
and Tatum's Gurney channels the charms of Gene Kelly.
Ethan Coen said they were drawn to Mannix as a "kind of a
Christ-like figure because he takes on all these problems, other
"He's also the sane person in the insane universe, he's the one
person who's not the kook in a kooky world that he has to control,
he's the straight man," added Joel Coen.
"That probably is relatable to a lot of people."
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Andrew Hay)
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