DATELINE: Starry, Starry Night
Blame the damn screenwriters. That’s what the Coen Brothers do in their sly satire Hail, Caesar!
If this movie is any indication, those blacklisted Hollywood Ten practically got away with murder.
A roman a clef, the tale is a trivia buff’s dreamboat, sailing into the territory once claimed by Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly. This time the Gene Kelly role is played by Channing Tatum in a rousing number with No Dames at Sea.
You can try to pick out the old movie stars being lampooned: from Audie Murphy to Charlton Heston, Esther Williams to Carmen Miranda.
The cast has fun, and often that leaves the audience out. Not this time. We felt like we too were in on the joke because so many young viewers will miss the dreamboat, unless they are fans of TMC’s old chestnut classics.
In a nutshell, a group of despicable and underpaid writers kidnaps a movie star and holds him at the spaceship house once owned by Mildred Pierce out in Malibu. We can almost see Joan Crawford on the shore.
Eddie Mannix, a real Hollywood history fixer, is played by Josh Brolin as if he were Humphrey Bogart, who comes in to solve all the movie star scandals like a superhero. Tilda Swinton doubles down as Hedda Hopper, and Scarlett Johanssen swims like Esther Williams. It’s delightful.
Our money goes to to Alden Ehrenreich with his dead-on Audie Murphy impersonation as Hobie Doyle, down to the wavy hair and ‘aw-shucks,’ demeanor. A star is born.