Hail, Caesar! (2016)
A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.
Hail Caesar! Follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer for Capitol Pictures in the 1950s, who cleans up and solves problems for big names and stars in the industry. But when studio star Baird Whitlock disappears, Mannix has to deal with more than just the fix.
1951 Hollywood. Eddie Mannix is the head of property protection at Capitol Pictures. In other words, he shields the studio's stars from any scandal and ensures that their public persona is what the studio wants. This job takes him to his Catholic church confessional more often than the church would probably like. On the urging of his wife, he is trying to quit smoking, it not an easy day for him to do so, as the day is going worse than usual, "usual" which is bad to begin with. DeeAnna Moran, the studio's wholesome and single screen "mermaid", is pregnant, she who will soon be showing. Who DeeAnna thinks is the father does not help matters which means no marriage on the horizon to legitimize the pregnancy. Laurence Laurentz, the director of urbane drawing room comedies, is balking to Eddie about the casting of Hobie Doyle, the studio's singing cowboy, in a role as a sophisticate in his latest movie, especially as Hobie truly was only a good ol' southern cowboy before getting into movies. But what may be worst of all for Eddie this day is that Baird Whitlock, arguably the studio's biggest star and notorious womanizer and boozer, has gone missing during the filming of his latest movie, a gladiator biblical epic. Eddie learns that he has been kidnapped by voices of the "future" who have requested $100,000 ransom. Eddie has to get Baird back while holding off the snooping of twin gossip columnists Thora Thacker and Thessaly Thacker, the former who plans to dredge up a quashed past scandal about Baird if she can't dig up new gossip. What Eddie is unaware of is that easily swayed Baird is in no real danger from his kidnappers, except in the eyes of people like Senator Joseph McCarthy. What may be the studio's only problem-free production is the latest sailors on leave musical starring song-and-dance man, Burt Gurney... or is it problem-free? Eddie could escape this life if he decides to accept the lucrative management job offer by the Lockheed Corporation, which could be the secure future of America through their secret atomic bomb testing.
Hollywood, 1950s. Eddie Mannix is Head of Physical Production at Capitol Studios. His life is one of non-stop action: casting issues, production issues, keeping the studios stars in line, ensuring the studio avoids negative publicity, dealing with the press, playing matchmaker to the studios stars, among other things. His current main issue is that one of the studios biggest stars, Baird Whitlock, has been kidnapped by Communist screenwriters. But its all in a day's work for Eddie Mannix.
In 1951, Eddie Mannix is the head of physical production at Capitol Pictures and also works as a "fixer" to keep the scandalous behavior of its stars out of the press. He often has to fend off inquiries from Thora and Thessaly Thacker, twin sisters and rival gossip columnists. The Lockheed Corporation has been courting him with an offer of a high-level executive position, but he is unsure about taking it. When unmarried synchronized swimming actress DeeAnna Moran becomes pregnant, Mannix arranges for her to put the baby in foster care, and then adopt it without revealing herself as the mother. The studio's major production is Hail, Caesar. A Tale of the Christ, an epic set in ancient Roman times and starring Baird Whitlock. During a shot, Whitlock drinks from a goblet of wine that was drugged by an extra; he passes out while rehearsing lines by himself behind the soundstage and is abducted..
- Set in Hollywood of the 1950s, the film starts with Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) going to confession at a local church. The priest is already used to hearing from Eddie too often. Eddie confesses that he has been hiding his smoking habit from his wife.
Eddie drives to a house where a young actress, Gloria DeLamour (Natasha Bassett), is doing a photoshoot while wearing provocative clothing. Eddie has called the cops to get the photographer and then slaps Gloria twice before giving her an alias to protect her image and an alibi.
Eddie is revealed to be a fixer for the studio Capitol Pictures, keeping the reputations of the studio's actors safe. He watches a rough cut of "Hail, Caesar!", a historical epic centered around The Christ. Famous actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) stars in the lead role of Autolycus. Eddie is seen consulting with a rabbi, Protestant clergyman, Catholic clergyman, and Eastern Orthodox clergyman to discuss the portrayal of Jesus Christ being done properly without offending anyone's views, leading to a debate on the role of Jesus in each religion.
In addition to "Hail, Caesar!", Eddie is also involved in the production of a Broadway adaptation called "Merrily We Dance". He gets popular Western star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich). We see Hobie performing in a Western film, pulling off cool stunts against the bad guys. When Hobie is brought in to act for "Merrily We Dance", he meets the director, Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). The cameras roll, and Hobie is unable to pull off a convincing British accent with his heavy Southern drawl. Laurentz tries to get Hobie to say the line "Would that it were so simple" repeatedly, but he never quite gets it right, leading Laurentz to go complain to Eddie.
During the filming of "Hail, Caesar!", an extra (Wayne Knight) pours a powdered substance into a goblet that Baird is supposed to drink out of. Baird shoots the scene and drinks from it. Later, as he walks to his dressing room, the extra and his cohort (Jeff Lewis) follow Baird and catch him as he passes out, and they abduct him.
Another issue Eddie has to deal with is actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson). She is introduced doing a mermaid water sequence with a big smile before experiencing discomfort and tossing her crown to someone violently. DeeAnna is pregnant, which spells trouble for her generally wholesome image.
Baird wakes up in a house by the beach and walks into a meeting of men gathered in a room. Baird sits with them and learns that they are all communist writers that felt cheated by the studios, and they want Baird to join them in their cause.
People notice that Baird has gone missing. Eddie receives a message demanding a ransom of $100,000 for Baird's return, issued by "The Future". As Eddie tries to manage the situation, he is hounded by columnist Thora Thacker (Tilda Swinton) over a story about Baird regarding a film he did years earlier called "On Wings With Eagles." Not long after Thora leaves, Eddie is approached by her twin sister Thessaly, who writes gossip pieces and also wants to do a piece on Baird. A young man on a bike approaches Eddie and says he has a call from "The Future." Eddie runs to his office to answer the call, but they hang up on him. Hobie is already waiting for him in his office. Eddie shows him a suitcase full of the ransom money and explains the situation to Hobie.
Meanwhile, Eddie is pursued by a man from Lockheed Martin to leave Hollywood behind and go work for him.
We meet actor Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) in a musical as a sailor who sings with his comrades over seeing "no dames" for the next eight months at sea.
Eddie visits C.C. Calhoun (Frances McDormand), who is the editor of "Merrily We Dance". He catches a glimpse of footage from the film. Before it gets to Hobie's part, the reel stops because C.C.'s scarf gets caught in the projector and is choking her. Eddie reverses the reel and saves her.
Eddie approaches Arne Seslum (Christopher Lambert), the director with whom DeeAnna had an affair with and fathered her child. He tells Eddie he is married. Eddie resolves to have DeeAnna disappear for a while and "adopt" her own child to hide that it's really hers. They find Joe Silverman (Jonah Hill), a fall guy that has previously been used as a scapegoat to fix someone else's problem. They arrange for Joe to be the foster father to DeeAnna's baby.
Hobie is set up with actress Carlotta Valdez (Veronica Osorio) to accompany each other to the premiere of Hobie's movie "Lazy Ol' Moon". The film is a laugh-out-loud riot for the audience. After the movie, Hobie and Carlotta have dinner together as part of the studio's plan to make them look "sweet on each other." Hobie is approached by both Thacker sisters individually to get the scoop on the two of them. From a few tables down, Hobie notices Burt taking the suitcase of money with him. Hobie leaves Carlotta and follows Burt.
Hobie follows Burt all the way to the beach house where he finds Baird sitting alone in the meeting room. Baird tries to convince Hobie to join The Future, but he refuses to be a communist and takes Baird with him. Meanwhile, the writers are taking Burt (who is also a communist) to the middle of the ocean where a Soviet submarine rises from the water. Burt takes the suitcase with him as he boards the submarine, but a small dog on the little boat hops over, prompting Burt to catch the dog and drop the suitcase into the water. He boards the submarine, which goes back underwater. As Hobie drives Baird away, the police make their way to the beach house to arrest the writers.
When Baird returns, he plans to smear the name of the studio head as The Future would have wanted, but Eddie smacks him twice and tells him to proceed with "Hail, Caesar!" and to not even think about ruining the reputation of the man that made him famous. Baird is then seen performing a monologue in the film as they see Jesus on the cross. The speech is powerfully spoken until Baird forgets one of his lines.
Eddie is approached by Thora again in regards to the "On Wings With Eagles" story. Apparently, Baird got the part in that movie by sleeping with Laurentz, but because her source was Burt, Eddie tells her that she would be branded a communist if she were to run that story. Eddie is then approached by his secretary and is told that DeeAnna and Joe met up for dinner and later eloped.
In the final scene, Eddie goes to confession one more time. The priest tells him he's not so bad if he comes by too often. He also tells Eddie that God wants everyone to do what is right. This inspires Eddie to stay with Capitol Pictures and continue takfing pride in his job.