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The Shawshank Redemption

Image credit: The Shawshank Redemption, 1994

Odds are, if you had the TNT network in the mid-1990s, you watched all or parts of The Shawshank Redemption (Disc/Download) approximately 457 times. Scrolling through the channels, if this movie was on, you stopped what you were doing and picked up the story wherever it happened to be. Maybe you waited for the current screening to end, at which point they’d… run it again. Suffice it to say, we all love Shawshank, we’ve all seen Shawshank, so let’s have a cocktail and toast the ultimate “new classic”.

It’s tough to pinpoint what makes this tale of a falsely convicted murderer serving out a lifetime sentence in a New England Penitentiary so universally appealing, but I’m going to take a stab at it. I think we’re all Andy Dufresne in some ways, fighting and struggling to stay afloat in the face of adversity. Maybe you even have an impossible goal you’ve been working toward for years, carving and chipping away at whatever obstacle stands in front of you. It’s comforting to watch this smart guy play the long game and come out on top because it means all the hope and labor you’ve been pumping into the universe will be rewarded one day. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll make a friend along the way. Maybe a man who knows how to get things.

Based on Stephen King’s short story, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, this film takes place during the 1940s-1960s, during a time when Hollywood starlets reigned supreme. Andy hides his escape tunnel-in-progress behind various pin-up posters, which are somehow sanctioned contraband. Let’s celebrate his first leading lady with a margarita, a cocktail rumored to be invented for the lovely Ms. Hayworth, born Margarita Carmen Cansino. While watching The Shawshank Redemption, I recommend drinking this Marga-Rita Hayworth.

Marga-Rita Hayworth

2 oz Reposado Tequila

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Pomegranate Juice

1/2 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Cranberry Juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a tumbler filled with crushed ice, and garnish with a citrus wheel and lime twist.

If you’re throwing a Shawshank party (and frankly, this seems like a fantastic idea to me), you could also serve up a bucket of ice cold, Bohemian-style beer for all your friends and colleagues, or even a Jungle Bird in honor of Jake. But I personally like this “slow sipper”, which will carry you through Andy’s decades of setbacks and tiny victories. As Red says, in that pitch-perfect Morgan Freeman voice, “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.” Livin’ sounds more fun to me. Cheers!

The Hudsucker Proxy

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Image credit PolyGram Entertainment, 1994, The Hudsucker Proxy

Image credit PolyGram Entertainment, 1994, The Hudsucker Proxy

Every year in December, I get out my boxes of ornaments and the plastic Christmas tree and put on that classic holiday record by Alvin and the Chipmunks. You know the main song, where Alvin longs for a hula hoop? Well, the hula hoop inspired this week’s Cinema Sips pick, an underrated Coen Brothers gem The Hudsucker Proxy (DVD/Download).

An homage to so many wonderful films of the 1930’s and 40’s (His Girl Friday, It’s a Wonderful Life, Sullivan’s Travels, etc.), The Hudsucker Proxy follows everyman Norville Barnes (played by Tim Robbins) on his journey from Muncie, Indiana to New York City circa 1958. He gets a job in the mailroom of Hudsucker Industries, but dreams of bigger things. His dream includes a piece of paper with a circle on it, which would later turn out to be the hula hoop. Through a complicated series of events, Norville finds himself promoted to CEO of Hudsucker, where he takes the company to great heights with the hula hoop idea. Eventually, things spiral out of control as his ego gets larger and larger, until he finds himself on the ledge of the forty-fourth floor of the Hudsucker building on New Year’s Eve, ready to jump. Unfortunately this film was a box office flop when it was released, but I still love it for the amazing production design (think Art Deco meets Bauhaus), fabulous costumes, and sparkling script. Plus, any film featuring Paul Newman is okay by me.

My drink this week is inspired by Norville and his lady love Amy Archer’s love of martinis. A great festive version of the classic martini is the pear martini. I like to dress it up with a little fresh pear and cranberries to give it a holiday feel.  When watching The Hudsucker Proxy, I recommend drinking a Holiday Pear Martini.

Holiday Pear Martini

1 ½ oz Vodka

3/4 oz Pear liqueur

3/4 oz St. Germain

1 oz lemon juice

Fresh Pear and cranberries for garnish

Combine vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice, and pear liqueur over ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with fresh pear and cranberries.  Bendy straw optional.

holiday-pear-martini

The Hudsucker Proxy is classic Coen Brothers holiday fun, and I’m so excited to watch it again this year. It makes me wish that women still wore hats and talked like Rosalind Russell. As the stress of the holiday sets in, remember to take a two-hour break with this film and a tasty cocktail, and maybe even put on that old Alvin and the Chipmunks record. You know, for kids ;-).