Mildred Hayes’ teenage daughter was recently raped and murdered in the small town of Ebbing, Missouri. She now brings up her son alone and becomes frustrated at the local police department’s lack of progress into the investigation of her daughter’s brutal death. Spotting a trio of unused roadside billboards on a quiet road in the town, she hits on the idea of renting them and keeping the case in the public eye by using advertisements to accuse local chief of police chief of neglecting the investigation.
“Hail Caesar!” is a gentle comedy on the surface, but seems to me more a homage to the glory days of the Hollywood studio system in the 1930s-50s. At that time the “big five” studios (Warner, RKO, Fox, Loew and Paramount) controlled every aspect of film production, from script writing through to distribution. Actors were on contract to a studio, who managed every aspect of their career and their public image.