The glitz, glam and behind-the-scenes foibles of Hollywood's golden age get the Coen brothers treatment in Hail, Caesar!, which premiere was in February. Chronicling a day in the life of 1950s studio "head of physical production" Eddie Mannix, the modest Universal release ($22 million net budget) features a dream team of A-listers: George Clooney as a kidnapped matinee idol, Channing Tatum as a tap-dancing sailor, Ralph Fiennes as a thwarted director and Tilda Swinton in a quirky turn as twin gossip columnists.
While much of the three-month L.A. shoot took place on studio backlots (primarily Warner Bros.'), Union Station doubles as the fictitious Capitol Pictures. "We wanted to make it look like the MGM machine where they were churning out films one by one," says Gonchor. "We went to great lengths to make it look like the 1930s to 1950s and built everything on site. There were so many different crafts, it was like working in the '50s with our mold-makers and crafts building everything the old-fashioned way."
Setting the scene also involved the use of vintage camera and lighting equipment. "We busted out the old technology," the designer notes, "and approached the film in an organic way, which is how the Coen brothers like to do it." The film's colors are highly saturated, from bright contrast for the Hail, Caesar! segments to monochromatic for the soundstage sets. "We tried to make this film with a heightened reality," says Gonchor. "[The Coens] like to push the audience in a way to make them comfortable and uncomfortable."
The Hollywood Reporter