Welcome to Part II of my list of “dream casts” for six of my favorite modern films, complete with terrible MS Paint imagery! This post was written for The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon, hosted by Silver Scenes.
Music and Lyrics (2007)
Original genre: Romantic comedy
Original director: Marc Lawrence
Music and Lyrics is a horrifically underrated film, one of my absolute favorites AND one of my most frequently re-watched. It was one of the first films that came to mind when I began working on these imaginary posts, because I can so easily see it as a classic rom-com. It has a lot of the same charm found in mid-century comedies. I’d adapt the film to the ’60s, with Alex Fletcher becoming a washed-up ’40s band leader rather than an ’80s has-been and Cora Corman becoming a brash, sassy Wanda Jackson-esque girl.
The Dream Cast:
Alex Fletcher –
Hugh Grant -> Cary Grant
You had to know I was going to cast him in something! Cary Grant would actually be a major upgrade from the other Mr. Grant (who I’m usually not a big fan of, but I do find more likable than usual in Music and Lyrics) in terms of charm. I’m not sure the character would seem as vulnerable and insecure as he is in the 2007 film with Cary at the helm, but he’d sure as hell have an easy time winning over the audience and his love interest, Sophie.
Sophie Fisher –
Drew Barrymore -> Audrey Hepburn
This is a bit of a selfish casting choice. Anything I cast Cary in, I must also cast Audrey in because they were phenomenal together in Charade and I desperately wish they would have made more films together.
Cora Corman –
Haley Bennett -> Patty Duke
It was in 1967 that Patty Duke attempted to break from her squeaky-clean television persona by starring in Valley of the Dolls. Having seen that film, I know she could easily play the rambunctious young star who hires Alex to write a song for her, and she probably would have welcomed a role like this as a stepping stone to Neely O’Hara.
Chris Riley (Alex’s manager) –
Brad Garrett -> Vincent Price
My dearest Vincent made many movies in the ’60s, most of them horror. I always love watching his non-horror roles, too, and to see him pop up in a supporting romantic comedy role in the midst of some of his greatest horrors would be just plain fun. Chris is a small character but one with a great brand of wit that Vincent could easily carry off.
Original genre: Fantasy/”dramedy”
Original director: Mark Palansky
Penelope is a family-friendly critique of society’s obsession with physical beauty. It’s also a film with an incredible amount whimsy. Who better to direct a charming but critical comedy-drama in the mid-1930s than Frank Capra, a master of both sentimentality and societal commentary?
The Dream Cast:
Penelope Wilhern –
Christina Ricci – > Loretta Young
Young could easily capture the charm, strong spirit and self-awareness of Penelope Wilhern. And yes, I do realize this is the second time in this blogathon that I’ve cast her — but she was such a wonderful actress, I can’t help but choose her more than once!
Johnny/Max (Penelope’s suitor) –
James McAvoy -> Ralph Bellamy
Johnny/Max starts out as a character we love to hate, sneaking his way into Penelope’s home for no other reason than to score some gamblin’ money from snoopy reporter Lemon. But by the end of the film, the audience loves him because he accepts Penelope for who she is and sees her as beautiful despite the fact that she doesn’t meet society’s conventional standards. Smarmy actors need not apply for this role. I think Ralph Bellamy would suit the character quite well, and he’d actually get the girl for once! Bellamy did play gangsters and villainous characters on many occasions, but his experience in playing the “bad guy” would only further his ability to tackle this role splendidly, since there is a sense of good-vs.-evil duality to Johnny/Max.
The Wedding Planner (2001)
Original genre: Romantic comedy
Original director: Adam Shankman
I’m probably in a very small minority, but I really love this film. Not all of J. Lo’s acting adventures have been as great of flops as Gigli! I also happen to think that, with a few changes here and there, the story of The Wedding Planner would make a fantastic screwball comedy, in a similar vein to comedies of remarriage (though obviously all of the action here takes place before any wedding). Girl meets boy. Boy is engaged. Girl is hired by boy’s fiance to plan the wedding. Do you see the potential I’m seeing for banter-y screwball madness, here? As for a director, only Howard Hawks will do!
The Dream Cast:
Mary Fiore –
Jennifer Lopez -> Rita Hayworth
Rita Hayworth is remembered as one of the most beautiful actresses of the entire classic era. Who better to unintentionally steal someone’s fiance away? In the existing film Mary is an innocent character who gets wrapped up in a love triangle by no fault of her own, but in this alternate screwball re-make universe she must directly defend herself against a harshly judgmental foe, Steve’s fiance Fran. I think Rita could easily embody both the sweet and the scrappy sides of the modified character.
Steve Edison –
Matthew McConaughey -> Gene Kelly
Just as I did with my Music and Lyrics (p)remake, I selfishly select Gene because I love him with Rita. Cover Girl is one of my favorite films, largely because they are so lovely together. I think Gene would bring a truly conflicted, well-intentioned angle to the character as he tries to choose between Mary and Fran.
Fran, Steve’s fiance –
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras -> Roz Russell
The rivalry between Mary and Fran for Steve’s affection would be immensely amplified with the fantastically brash Roz Russell filling the “wronged woman” role. This character would be like Sylvia Fowler on crack.
Massimo, Mary’s arranged fiance –
Justin Chambers -> Jimmy Stewart
Massimo is a bright addition to the existing film. Not only is comedic and fun to watch, but he’s also a sensitive character who truly values Mary’s happiness. I think Jimmy Stewart — who cracked our ribs in The Philadelphia Story and made us sniffle in It’s a Wonderful Life — could pull off the role very well.