Thinking about what could have been is apparently a great pastime of mine. You may remember that last year I shared a couple of books that I wish would be made into films, including classic and modern “dream casts” for each. Now I’ve gone and cooked up more dream casts, this time with the theme of “What if some of my favorite modern films had been produced during the classic era?” (FYI: These are not my six all-time favorite new-ish films — just a few favorites that I was easily able to re-imagine!)

This post was written for The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon, hosted by Silver Scenes. I especially hope that you enjoy my terrible, MS Paint-edited pictures. Keep an eye out for Part II of this list tomorrow!

Beetlejuice (1988)
Original genre:
Original director:
Tim Burton

With a few tweaks, I can easily imagine Beetlejuice as an early 1930s horror flick. James Whale, director of The Invisible Man and Frankenstein, could take the reins from Tim Burton to ensure that the film would be spooky, highly stylized, a touch more sinister than Burton’s version and a little bit corny. (What fun is ’30s horror without the corn?)

The Dream Cast
Beetlejuice –
Michael Keaton -> Bela Lugosi
With a ’30s horror, the two big names that come to mind are, of course, Lugosi and Karloff. Though both are high-ranking on my list of “favorite classic film men,” Lugosi’s performances have always seemed a bit campier than Karloff’s to me, which would make him a great fit for a Beetlejuice less zany than Keaton’s but every bit as strange.
Adam and Barbara –
Alec Baldwin & Geena Davis -> Don Ameche and Margaret Lindsay
Don Ameche, had he made his film debut slightly earlier, could uphold the original film’s comedic edge. (I love him in 1939’s Midnight!) Lindsay, on the other hand, was no stranger to B-movies and as such could give a very fun, lovable, ghostly performance here.
Lydia Deetz –
Winona Ryder -> Loretta Young
Young had tons of spunk and would add a lot to the film as Lydia, a young girl who has the ability to see the dead couple that is inhabiting her family’s home!

Carrie (1976)
Original genre:
Original director:
Brian De Palma

Carrie, the story of a girl with telekinetic powers who gets revenge on the classmates who have made her life hell, would make for a fantastic black and white Mario Bava flick in the ’60s. In the vein of La ragazza che sapeva troppo, Bava could explore the conflict inside Carrie’s mind as she discovers her powers. Or how about a cautionary juvenile delinquency flick that utilizes the novel’s “eyewitness and expert testimony” format to lead into flashbacks featuring Carrie herself?

The Dream Cast
Carrie White –
Sissy Spacek -> Susanne Sidney
She played crazy Dolly in High School Hellcats. ‘nough said.
Margaret White –
Piper Laurie -> Valerie Hobson
A horror film vet from the ’30s, it would have been great to see Valerie take on the “crazy mother” role in this film. She had stopped acting in the 1950s, but for the sake of this list (it is a DREAM cast, after all) we’ll pretend she would’ve pulled herself out of retirement.
Sue Snell –
Amy Irving -> Sandra Dee
Sue Snell hangs with the mean girls, but she ends up having a soft spot for Carrie and trying to help her, though it backfires terribly. Sandra Dee could easily pull off Sue’s good-at-heart, caring persona while also remaining believable as one of the popular girls who will go along with her friends’ cruel plans in order to fit in.
Tommy Ross –
William Katt -> Fabian
Tommy Ross isn’t a character that has much to do in the film. He stands around looking like a high school pretty boy, giggles a lot and asks Carrie to prom. Fabian was a teen heartthrob, and while any teen heartthrob of the ’60s would do in this role, I just think it would be fun to see Fabian in a horror flick.
Norma and Chris Hargensen –
P.J. Soles and Nancy Allen -> Tuesday Weld and Catherine Deneuve
Wouldn’t it be fun to see both of these spunky young actresses take on the “evil mean girl” roles of Carrie? Though they were born in the same year, Deneuve always comes off as more sophisticated and mature than Weld, so I can see her playing the leader of the pack, with Weld taking over P.J. Soles’ role.

Love Story (1970)
Original genre:
Original director:
Arthur Hiller

Ivy league boy meets other-side-of-the-tracks girl and falls in love. Their romance seems unbreakable, surviving many trials, including disapproving families… but their hearts will soon be broken when fatal illness enters the picture. Love Story is THE definitive ’70s tearjerker, but with a banter-filled college romance leading up to a tragic ending, what better material could it be for a ’30s soaper instead? I’d peg Michael Curtiz to direct.

The Dream Cast
Jennifer Cavalleri –
Ali MacGraw -> Barbara Stanwyck
Stanwyck is the first actress that comes to mind when I think of someone who could fill a role that requires great emotion. She was so wonderful in romantic dramas like Ever in My Heart. She could easily pull off the character of Jennifer, garnering strong emotional investment from the audience.
Oliver Barrett IV –
Ryan O’Neal -> Henry Fonda
We know Fonda had great chemistry with Stanwyck from the non-imaginary films they made together, and he could easily pull off the “handsome, well-bred collegiate man” air of Oliver Barrett IV. And on top of that, Fonda was a phenomenal actor.
Oliver Barrett III & Mrs. Barrett –
Ray Milland & Katherine Balfour -> C. Aubrey Smith & Spring Byington
C. Aubrey Smith played many imposing characters, and Oliver Barrett III is just that type: stern, conventional, sophisticated. And I choose Spring Byington for the role of Oliver IV’s mother… just because I like Spring Byington!

Check out the rest of the fantastic Great Imaginary Film Blogathon contributions over at Silver Scenes!