Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Michael Lehmann|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Screenplay by||Steven E. de Souza
|Story by||Bruce Willis
|Narrated by||William Conrad|
Richard E. Grant
|Music by||Michael Kamen
|Editing by||Chris Lebenzon
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||100 minutes|
|Box office||$17,218,080 (USA)|
Hudson Hawk is a 1991 American action comedy film directed by Michael Lehmann. Bruce Willis stars in the title role and also co-wrote the story. Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, David Caruso, Lorraine Toussaint, Frank Stallone, Sandra Bernhard, and Richard E. Grant are also featured.
The live action film makes heavy use of cartoon-style slapstick, including sound effects, which enhances the movie's signature surreal humour. The plot combines material based on conspiracy theories, secret societies, and historic mysteries, as well as outlandish "clockpunk" technology à la Coburn's Our Man Flint movies of the 1960s.
A recurring plot device in the film has Hudson and his partner Tommy "Five-Tone" (Aiello) singing songs concurrently but separately, to time and synchronize their exploits. Willis-Aiello duets of Bing Crosby's Swinging on a Star and Paul Anka's Side by Side feature on the film's soundtrack.
Eddie "Hudson Hawk" Hawkins (Bruce Willis) — "Hudson Hawk" is an expression that refers to the often bracing winds off of the Hudson river — is a master burglar and safe-cracker, attempting to celebrate his first day of parole from prison with a cappuccino. Before he can get it, he is blackmailed by various entities, including his own parole officer, a minor Newark Mafia family headed by the Mario brothers (a reference to Nintendo's Mario Bros.), and the CIA into doing several dangerous art heists with his singing partner in crime, Tommy "Five-Tone" Messina (Danny Aiello).
The holders of the puppet strings turn out to be a "psychotic American corporation," Mayflower Industries, run by husband and wife Darwin (Richard E. Grant) and Minerva Mayflower (Sandra Bernhard) and a blade-slinging butler, Alfred (Donald Burton). The company, headquartered in the Esposizione Universale Roma (E.U.R.) in Rome, seeks to take over the world by reconstructing "La Macchina dell'Oro", a machine purportedly invented by Leonardo da Vinci (Stefano Molinari) which converts lead into gold. A special assembly of crystals needed for the machine to function are hidden in a variety of Leonardo's artworks: the maquette of the Sforza, the Da Vinci Codex, and a scale model of DaVinci's helicopter design. Sister Anna Baragli (Andie MacDowell) is an operative for a secretive Vatican counter-espionage agency, which has arranged with the CIA to assist in the Roman portion of Hawk's mission, though apparently intending all along to foil the robbery at St. Peter's Basilica.
Throughout the adventure, Hudson is foiled in repeated attempts to drink a cappuccino. After blowing up an auctioneer to cover up the theft of the Sforza, the Mario Bros. take Hawk away inside an ambulance, but when Hawk sticks needles into Antony Mario's face they try to run him down (as the stretcher Hawk is on falls out of the ambulance as it speeds along the highway), but are both killed when their driver crashes the ambulance due to the needles in Antony's face. Immediately afterwards, Hawk meets CIA head George Kaplan (James Coburn) and his CIA agents: Snickers (Don Harvey), Kit Kat (David Caruso), Almond Joy (Lorraine Toussaint), and Butterfinger (Andrew Bryniarski), who take him to Darwin and Minerva Mayflower. Hawk successfully steals the Da Vinci Codex from another museum, but eventually refuses to steal the helicopter design, and Tommy Five-Tone fakes his death so they can escape. However, they are found and attacked by the CIA Agents. Kit Kat and Butterfinger take Anna to the castle. Tommy trips Snickers, causing his bomb launcher to shoot a bomb onto his head. Hudson and Tommy escape while Snickers and Almond Joy are killed when the bomb goes off.
The film culminates in a showdown at Leonardo's castle, between the remaining CIA agents, the Mayflowers, and the team of Hudson, Five-Tone, and Baragli, to stop the Mayflowers from successfully operating the machine, during which Kit Kat and Butterfingers are betrayed and killed by Minerva. Tommy fights Darwin and Alfred inside Darwin's limo, while Hudson fights George Kaplan on the roof, and knocks him on top of the limo. Alfred, though wounded, jumps out of the limo with Darwin and plants a bomb on it, with Tommy trapped inside and George on the hood, and it explodes just as it falls over a cliff. Darwin and Minerva force Hawk to put together the crystal powering the machine, but Hawk intentionally leaves out one small piece. As a result, when the Mayflowers try the machine, it explodes and kills Minerva. In the battle that follows, Darwin is electrocuted and Hawk battles Alfred, and eventually decapitates him on his own blades. Hawk and Baragli escape the castle and discover that Tommy survived the crash due to airbags and sprinklers inside the limo. Hawk finally gets to enjoy a cappuccino.
- Bruce Willis as Eddie Hawkins/Hudson Hawk
- Danny Aiello as Tommy "Five-Tone" Messina
- Andie MacDowell as Anna Baragli
- James Coburn as George Kaplan
- Sandra Bernhard as Minerva Mayflower
- Richard E. Grant as Darwin Mayflower
- Donald Burton as Alfred
- Andrew Bryniarski as Butterfinger
- David Caruso as Kit Kat
- Lorraine Toussaint as Almond Joy
- Don Harvey as Snickers
- Doug Martin as Igg
- Steve Martin as Ook
- Leonardo Cimino as The Cardinal
- Frank Stallone as Cesar Mario
- Carmine Zozzara as Antony Mario
- Emily Eby as Peppermint Patty
- William Conrad as The Narrator
- "Hudson Hawk Theme" - Dr. John (05:38)
- "Swinging on a Star" - Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello (02:53) - Sung in incorrect order of verses (the plot device in the movie refers to the original track length as 5:32)
- "Side by Side" - Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello (02:18) (the plot device in the film refers to the original track length as 6:00)
- "Leonardo" (04:55)
- "Welcome to Rome" (01:46)
- "Stealing the Codex" (01:58)
- "Igg and Ook" (02:22)
- "Cartoon Fight" (02:54)
- "The Gold Room" (05:57)
- "Hawk Swing" (03:41)
- "Hudson Hawk Theme" (instrumental) (05:18)
The song "The Power" by Snap! is featured, although not included on the soundtrack, when Hudson Hawk is taken for the first time to the headquarters of the Mayflowers. Minerva Mayflower, played by Sandra Bernhard, is sitting on a desk singing the song while it plays on her headphones.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said of the film, "A movie this unspeakably awful can make an audience a little crazy. You want to throw things, yell at the actors, beg them to stop." James Brundage of AMC filmcritic said the film was "so implausible and so over the top that it lets inconsistency roll off like water on a duck's back." It was also subjected to extensive criticism at Agony Booth in its review.
It received three Razzie Awards for Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Picture with additional nominations for Worst Actor (Bruce Willis), Worst Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant) and Worst Supporting Actress (Sandra Bernhard). In his autobiography, With Nails, Richard E. Grant diarises the production of the film in detail, noting the ad-hoc nature of the production and extensive rewriting and replotting during the actual filming. Willis went on to become one of the leading box-office stars of the 1990s, but has not made any further forays into scriptwriting.
The film was also not a box office success, partly because the film was intended as an absurd comedy, yet was marketed as an action film one year after the success of Die Hard 2. When the film came to home video the tag line "Catch The Adventure, Catch The Excitement, Catch The Hawk" was changed to "Catch The Adventure, Catch The Laughter, Catch The Hawk".
Effect on TriStar Pictures 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (September 2012)|
Hudson Hawk has the dubious distinction of being the final film produced by TriStar Pictures prior to their being bought out and merged with Columbia Pictures (which was going through similar financial difficulties). Because Hawk (in conjunction with other unsuccessful films from the same studio) had lost so much money, the Sony Corporation had to salvage TriStar by purchasing its remaining stock, and by reorganizing the company as part of the recently-formed Sony Pictures Entertainment. As with United Artists when they were bought out by MGM, Columbia and Tri-Star were allowed to keep their own logos, and to continue making movies under their own names.
TriStar was first formed under similar circumstances: with stock purchased from Lord Grade's now-defunct ITC, following the costly failure of four ambitiously-expensive movies: Can't Stop The Music, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, Raise The Titanic, and Saturn 3.
Video game 
A video game based on the film was released in 1991 under the title "Hudson Hawk" for various home computers and game consoles. Sony Imagesoft released versions of the game for the NES and Game Boy, while Ocean Software released it for the Commodore 64, Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and Atari ST. It is a side-scrolling game where the player, as the Hawk, must steal the Sforza and the Codex from the auction house and the Vatican, respectively. Then Castle Da Vinci has to be infiltrated in order to steal the mirrored crystal needed to power the gold machine. On his journey, Hawk must face many oddball adversaries, including dachshunds that try to throw him off the roof of the auction house, janitors, photographers, killer nuns, and a tennis player (presumably Darwin Mayflower).
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- "Hudson Hawk". Box Office Mojo.
- "Hudson Hawk". Washington Post. 1991-05-24. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- "`Hawk` Better Fly". Chicago Tribune. 1991-06-02. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Plaskin, Glenn (1991-05-19). "Real `Hudson Hawk`". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Easton, Nina J. (1991-05-19). "Summer Movie Special : Bruce & Joel's Q & A Adventure : Partners-in-action Bruce Willis and producer Joel Silver fire away on everything from 'Hudson Hawk' to the press". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- Fox, David J. (1991-05-28). "No Blockbusters Among This Crop of Memorial Day Movies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- Turan, Kenneth (1991-05-24). "Bruce Willis' 'Hudson Hawk' Fails to Fly as Comedy Caper". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- McGillagan, Pat; Rowland, Mark (1992-01-12). "Hudson Hawk Buried in a Landslide". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- Mathews, Jack (1991-06-09). "FILM COMMENT : Who Was That 'Moonlighting' Detective? Maybe He Can Piece It Together for Us". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-28.
- Terry, Clifford (1991-05-24). "Smug `Hudson Hawk` Looks Like A Turkey". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Rolling Stone - Hudson Hawk
- Filmcritic - Hudson Hawk
- Fox, David J. (1991-05-29). "'Backdraft' Burns 'Hawk's' Wings at the Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- Hudson Hawk at the Internet Movie Database
- Hudson Hawk at AllRovi
- Hudson Hawk at Box Office Mojo
- Hudson Hawk at Rotten Tomatoes
Ghosts Can't Do It and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
|Razzie Award for Worst Picture
12th Golden Raspberry Awards