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#025. Failing to Success

Have you ever tried so hard to obtain something, only to arrive at the complete opposite result? Usually, you want so hard to succeed that you’d do anything in order to make that success happen. And yet, the forces that be will not allow you to succeed, no matter how hard you try. Unfortunately, the opposite can happen as well. If you want to fail, chances are that you will succeed. The universe is a strange place like that. Well, more accurately, the universe captured on film is a strange place like that. We all root for the underdog to win against all odds, but what happens when he actually does? What if failure was what someone was trying to succeed at? Would their success actually be a failure? This week’s two movies highlight successes that should have been failures.

The Producers
Year: 1968
Rating: PG
Length: 88 minutes / 1.47 hours

Financial hardships have been a timeless theme for longer than movies have even been around. As such, there have been countless movies made about the underdog who would do anything for the money to support his family. Similarly, there are just as many (if not more) films about the conniving planner who tries to cheat the system to get rich quickly. The Producers is definitely the latter, although it does start with a man down on his luck. But then again, who wouldn’t want to try to cheat the system, if it meant that they could be rich?

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) is stuck with a bunch of old lady investors for his less than successful musicals. That is until he hires Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder), an accountant that finds out that Max doesn’t have to pay his investors any dividends if the musical is a flop. The two then set out to get as many investors as possible to put money into a musical that is sure to fail. Along the way, they make sure to make all the wrong decisions, hoping for a train-wreck. And with a musical like Springtime for Hitler, how could they not? Unfortunately, some sort of planetary alignment happens which causes the musical to be a success, leaving Max and Leo with a hefty amount of fraud on their hands.

The Hudsucker Proxy
Year: 1994
Rating: PG
Length: 111 minutes / 1.85 hours

This Coen Brothers feature is an example of winning against all odds. Especially when the odds are stacked against you. There’s something to fighting against the odds when you’re aware of them, but when you’re oblivious to the predicament you’re in, what chance do you have to succeed? Of course, when your failure is being driven by someone else who will benefit from it, that person will do everything within their power to make sure that you trip up somewhere. And yet, those who manage to overcome all that, must have a divine spirit of luck, or at least an overwhelming obliviousness of their situation.

Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins) is a highly optimistic business college graduate who has come to New York City to make something of himself. Unfortunately, he has to start at the ground floor. Actually, the mail room is probably underneath the ground floor, but you get my drift. When Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning) decides to take his business to the afterlife, Norville is suddenly thrust into the position of president of Hudsucker Enterprises. Of course, Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) is pulling strings in the background to make sure that he can gain complete control of the company through Norville’s bumbling naivete. What Sidney can’t plan for is the raging success of Norville’s invention, the Hula Hoop, which keeps him from obtaining his goal of majority shareholder of the company.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 successful failures

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One response to “#025. Failing to Success

  1. Pingback: End of Act One | Cinema Connections

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