Revisit Navy Musicals of Old Hollywood in ‘Hail Caesar!’

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Hail Caesar!, the latest movie from the writer/producer/director team of Joel and Ethan Coen, is available this week on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and On Demand. This is one of the funny Coen Brothers movies (like The Big Lebowski or Burn After Reading or O Brother, Where Art Thou?) instead of one of the dark, threatening ones (No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, Miller’s Crossing).

The new movie covers 24 hours in the life of Eddie Mannix (played by Josh Brolin), head of production at fake Hollywood studio Capitol Pictures. This gives the Coens a chance to satirize all kinds of movies from the ’50s: westerns, religious epics, synchronized swimming musicals, “sophisticated” prestige pictures and, best of all, military musicals.

Channing Tatum is Burt Gurney, the song-and-dance man who’s starring in a Navy musical. The above clip gives a sample of a hilarious dance number that laments that fact that there won’t be any women on board once the boys head out to sea. Gurney is also involved in a convoluted plot to kidnap and ransom Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the clueless actor who has the lead role in the sword-and-sandals epic that gives Hail Caesar! its title.

There’s communists and Soviets and Cold War intrigue. There are appearances from Scarlett Johansson in a mermaid costume, outstanding cowboys stunts from newcomer Alden Ehrenreich (who’s cast as young Han Solo in an upcoming Star Wars spinoff movie), Ralph Fiennes as an over-the-top Brit director, Frances McDormand as a film editor with a dangerous scarf and Tilda Swinton as twin gossip columnists.

If you ever stay up all night randomly watching Turner Classic Movies, this one is packed with old movie jokes you’re bound to enjoy.

Side note: Under the Radar readers might remember that Joel and Ethan have screenplay credits on Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies and Unbroken, director Angela Jolie’s biopic of WWII hero Louis Zamperini.

There are a good number of bonus features on the disk, including an extended bit about choreographing the Navy dance number in the “Magic of a Bygone Era” clip. The features include:

Directing Hollywood – The Coen Brothers have been making their mark on Hollywood for decades, creating acclaimed movies with their unmistakable brand of humor and unique storytelling style. As Joel and Ethan Coen discuss why they wanted to set their film in 1950s Hollywood, the all-star cast talks about working with this talented duo.

The Stars Align – Who better to appear in a film about Golden Age Hollywood and its stars than today’s biggest and brightest A-list talent? George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton,  Ralph Fiennes, Alden Ehrenreich, and Frances McDormand all join the Coen brothers in their Hollywood playground. The cast shares what drew them to the project, the secrets of the unique and zany characters they play and how the Hollywood of Hail, Caesar! differs from the Hollywood they know.

An Era of Glamour – From the costumes to the sets, no details were spared in Hail, Caesar! and the production designer, costume designer and other key design professionals sit down to talk about how this exciting era was returned to the big screen.

Magic of a Bygone Era Hail, Caesar! features two classic-in-the-making musical numbers: an aquatic spectacle featuring Scarlett Johansson and a rousing tap dance from Channing Tatum. The cast and crew explain the process of bringing these scenes to life, from costumes to choreography and everything in between.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment Hail Caesar