Hail, Caesar

“Movies had been considered as entertainment, with controversial subjects avoided because it cut the entertainment potential. The first real victory of communist influence on Hollywood was the discarding of this practice once the reds won acceptance of the idea that movies should carry a social message.”
– Excerpt from page 204 of Thirty Years of Treason by Eric Bentley

Following orders that came directly from Soviet sourced lawyers, those accused of being communists were given ample opportunity to speak at the HUAC hearings but sought instead to claim “victimization” as persecuted idealists hoping to hide behind the very laws granted by the country they were trying to overthrow. And though Congress has no business investigating the political beliefs of Americans, it has an obligation to look into crime and sedition. The American communist party was never a viable political organization but was a criminal outfit whose self-admitted goal was the infiltration of the American workplace, financed with Moscow demonstrations and union dues. In Hollywood, after the war ended, “progressive” screenwriters were the most notorious reds who intimidated fellow workers with disfigurement and blacklisting, which when used against them was called “unfair.”

It has taken 70 years for someone in Hollywood to point out onscreen that these contemptible criminal goons following the orders of a foreign country were most definitely the bad guys, and not those who named names and thwarted their nefarious plans.

Who would’ve imagined that it would be Joel and Ethan Coen who would have the balls to make commie screenwriters their villains in Hail, Caesar? Drawing its inspiration from that time in Hollywood when biblical epics, westerns and musicals reigned at the box office, screen idol Baird Whitlock, played by George Clooney, is drugged by a pair of film extras and kidnapped, held for a one hundred thousand dollar payoff by a bunch of screenwriters calling themselves “the Future,” who convince Whitlock that they understand economics.

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a studio fixer. He’s the one called in to correct negative press, be it unwanted pregnancies or moral dilemmas with bribes and staged antics. So when production is halted on Hail, Caesar, the film within this film, it’s up to Mannix to track down Whitlock’s whereabouts.

Hail, Caesar is an opportunity for the Coens to pay tribute to forgotten stars such as Judy Canova, Edgar Kennedy (known as “the master of the slow burn”) and Carmen Miranda (the lady with the banana on her head!) The character Hobie Doyle is representative of Gene Autry and various singing cowboys who were the studios’ bread and butter in those days. Scarlett Johansson plays an aquatic ballerina based on Esther Williams! This homage reaches from Cecil B. DeMille’s historical epics to George Sidney’s Anchors Aweigh musical, the point being that it did not matter what the subject matter was to these arrogant screenwriters as long as they concentrated on spreading propaganda.

And that means anything that gives a good impression of the Soviet system and in the process sell audiences on the idea that America is divisive, racist and unfair. In movies such as Song of Russia, instead of showing the Russian people as ragged, starving and miserable, they are portrayed as carefree and elegantly clothed! Businessmen are portrayed as evil in movies like Force of Evil. In the 1943 film Watch on the Rhine, scripted by Lillian Hellman, for a family to reach the mansion on the hill they must first pass by row after row of shabby, unkempt, dilapidated homes, depicted as the typical American neighborhood, which was the Soviet propaganda used to instill in audiences just how divisive and unfair American economics were!

The communist Hollywood Ten and their ilk complain to this day that the HUAC investigation caused them professional damage by revealing their political ideas to the public – it cost them jobs that were being held by fraud where they lied about who they were to employers and they lied about their intentions. There is no protection under the law to practice deceit!

So next time someone says, “The Hollywood Ten had their free speech violated,” remember those guys continued to write under assumed names, they received award after award from their Screenwriters Guild buddies, and they perpetuated the smear of Elia Kazan, Penny Singleton and anyone who wanted no part of their treason.

Hail, Caesar is the gutsy response to last year’s Trumbo movie that got nominations at this year’s Academy Awards. The trick nowadays is to come across as though you are a champion of individual rights while continuously supporting ideas and candidates that diametrically oppose those rights.

In light of genocidal border disputes, the poisoning of former agents and the massive intellectual stagnation occurring overseas, maybe Hail, Caesar isn’t supposed to be all that funny!