The Hudsucker Proxy | 1994
As part of a boardroom scam, amiable doofus Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) is appointed head of the Hudsucker business empire but goes on to invent that great 50s fad, the hula-hoop – you know, for kids.
The Coens’ spin on the old-school screwball comedy is set in 1950s ‘New York’ and filmed mainly on huge stylised studio sets, but for authentic deco-style locations the production decamped to Chicago.
The towering ‘Hudsucker Building’ is Chicago’s Merchandise Mart on the north bank of the Chicago River occupying the full block between between Wells and Orleans Streets.
Built as a wholesale centre by Marshall Field & Co in 1931, the Mart boasted the largest floor area of any building in the world until the construction of the Pentagon in Washington DC. It now houses showrooms, businesses and apartments.
The charity ball was filmed in the ballroom of the Blackstone Hotel, 636 South Michigan Avenue – no stranger to the screen, it’s where Al Capone (Robert De Niro) beats out an employee’s brains with a baseball bat in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, and also became the ‘Atlantic City’ hotel in Martin Scorsese’s The Color Of Money.