‘Hail, Caesar!’ On Combo Pack

Category: Blu-ray's and DVD's

This whacky comedy pays tribute to old Hollywood, actors, and movies as it spoofs several genres while at the same time bringing the old studio system front and center. Set in the early 1950s, Hail, Caesar! has its share of laugh-out-loud moments.

Josh Brolin stars as the head of Capitol Pictures Eddie Mannix. This guy solves all the problems on the sets, behind the scenes, and orchestrates the personal lives of his actors.

Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is a movie star in the same vane as a Charleston Heston or Richard Burton. He’s currently filming a movie called “Hail Caesar!” A group of Hollywood communists, an element of the story that brings up the mood of the time when the cold war was looming large in the consciousness of the people, kidnaps Whitlock. It’s now up to Mannix to get his star back while at the same time keeping everything working smoothly at the studio.

This all takes place in one day as not only the kidnapping is playing out, but also other movies are being filmed on the lot. The other films add the whimsy to this story.

First there is a cowboy star, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), who has a following for his western movies. He’s a singing cowboy, but is suddenly out of his element when he is cast as a suave, sophisticated man in a new film. This guy does his best to please the director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), who is dumbfounded why this cowboy is suddenly cast in his dramatic film.

Then there’s the Esther Williams-type actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) who always looks great in the water but on dry land she finds herself in the middle of a personal dilemma. Mannix is pulling all his strings to fix her situation while at the same time juggling the other problems of the studio along with a pair of gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinton) who are each looking for a big scoop.

And finally, a Fred Astaire/Donald O’Connor/Gene Kelly singing and dancing star, Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), is rehearsing his number complete with with tap dancing and all the trimmings.

This is a fun little film filled with whimsy and wit, while at the same time showing Hollywood in the 1950s.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray+DVD+Digital HD include looks at how the Coen brothers make their films. There are also comparisons between the characters in the film and those in old Hollywood. It’s also interesting to see how the communist threat of the day played into this story.

The movie might not have been produced had it not been for Clooney’s continual efforts to have the Coen brothers make it. He says it was listed in the IMDB site before there was even a script because he had often spoken about it in public and people thought it was a done deal. His persuasion was the push the producers needed to finally make this film that they had been thinking about for years. The actors discuss their characters and making the movie and there are plenty of other interesting tidbits in these bonus features.

Hail, Caesar! is rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking.

About the Author

Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment industry for 20 years. She also writes about products and travel. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as Internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.

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