#16. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
(no change from previous ranking)
The Coens’ fifth film is a mash-up of their influences from 1940s Hollywood, including Preston Sturges, Howard Hawks and Frank Capra. It follows naive mailroom clerk Norville Barnes (winningly played by Tim Robbins) who is given the top job at massive Hudsucker Industries in a plot by the board of directors to tank the stock so they can buy it back cheap.
Rather than sinking the company, however, the nincompoop makes it even more successful when his idea for the hula hoop (“you know, for kids”) strikes a nerve. The hilarious sequence dramatizing the birth and popularization of the hula hoop is one of the most inspired in the Coens’ canon.