Thursday, October 03, 2013

If "The Avengers" Had Been Made 56 Years Earlier

So, this past weekend, my friend DKoren was trying to guess what I was doing for the Great Imaginary Film Blogothon.  She emailed me to say that she was quite certain I was creating a classic Hollywood version of The Avengers (2012).

Which is not what I was creating, as you now know.

However, that idea was just so brilliant that I couldn't get it out of my head.  And so I'm doing a second entry for the blogothon, presenting my casting choices for a 1956 version of The Avengers.  I would like to take a script of the 2012 movie back 56 years and have it directed by William Wyler, who showed with The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) that he could handle a large and complicated cast, and would prove with 1959's Ben-Hur that he excelled at directing a spectacle.  Here's who would star:


Glenn Ford would be Tony Stark/Ironman.  He can do the suave charmer, the smirky smart-aleck, and the wounded hero.  Devil-may-care, intelligent, smooth... just imagining him in the role is making me drool.


Lauren Bacall is my pick for Pepper Potts.  She can play the no-nonsense, savvy businesswoman.  She can also pull out that sweet and tender side.  And her opposite Glenn Ford?  Smokin'!


I choose John Agar to play Steve Rogers/Captain America.  He's got that All-American look, upright and noble and brave.  Plus, looks very good in a uniform.


Who but Lon Chaney Jr. would play Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk in the 1950s?  No one at all.  He's got lots of experience wearing gobs of makeup and playing sympathetic monsters.  And when he's not all monstered-up, he has the weariness and vulnerability that make Banner so likable.


Oh yes, the great Elizabeth Taylor is my choice for Natasha Romanov/Black Widow.  You do not mess with this lady!  She can eviscerate anyone with a glance or a barbed witticism, so whether or not she'd be able to pull off fight scenes (and, admit it, in the 1950s there'd be a lot less mixed-martial-arts stuff going on), she'd be very effective at interrogation and persuasion.


I'll admit I had trouble casting Clint Barton/Hawkeye.  You need someone who can build sympathy quickly so audiences actually care when he's "turned" by Loki very early in the movie, and he also needs to have a certain level of chemistry with Black Widow.  So I picked soft-spoken, haunted-looking Farley Granger, who I think would work beautifully opposite Liz Taylor.


I'm going with Richard Widmark for Thor.  I don't think he's perfect, but he's got that intense thing going on and... he's blond.  Kind of a must for a Norse god, yanno.  Plus, while he played a lot of tough, mean, even cruel people, he also played really nice guys very credibly.  And I really want to see him square off with my Loki.


Vic Morrow is my choice for Loki.  In 1955, a year before I want this to film, he burst on the scene in Blackboard Jungle as a knife-wielding hoodlum who oozed sexy menace.  And yes, I am a devoted Vic Morrow fan, you know that by now.  I'll confess that I chose 1956 for this imaginary movie because it meant I could include him.  But anyway, he can be sympathetic one moment, then sneeringly evil the next, then quiet and deadly charming.  I'm quite sure he would convert me to Loki fandom.  I keep running Loki's lines in my head in Vic's voice, and oh man, just amazing.  "Is this love, Agent Romanoff?" -- in his Bronxy accent, that line is killer.  So are all the others.


But moving right along... I'd get Frederic March to play Erik Selvig.  I know he can do foreign accents, and he has the sort of distinguished and reliable look that a scientist like Selvig should have.


I choose Errol Flynn to be my Nick Fury.  He's great at that smooth-talking, not-quite-trustworthy thing, and he's commanding enough that people will listen to him even if they don't agree with him.  And you know he'd rock the eye patch.


I want Jean Arthur to be Agent Maria Hill.  No one does trusty female sidekicks like Jean Arthur.  And she can boss people around really well too.


And I pick Roy Rogers to play Agent Phil Coulson.  Minus the cowboy hat and neckerchief, of course, but it's nigh unto impossible to find a photo of him without them, so you'll just have to do a little imagining here.  I wanted someone genuinely likable, a nice guy whose death would rally troops as disparate as the ones I've assembled.  He needs to have a certain quiet, unassuming presence, and that's totally Roy Rogers.

So, that's my dream cast for a 1956 version of The Avengers.  Now all I need is a time machine!

25 comments:

  1. I don't know if I'm in Heaven or Hell. Heaven at the thought of that cast and Hell because we'll never see it. Widmark? Roy? Everybody is perfect. Well done!

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    1. Aww, thanks! You're very sweet :-) And yes, wouldn't it be a fun movie?

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  2. Oh WOW! This is fantastic and we couldn't agree more with Caftan Woman...how maddening that it was never made! Glenn Ford as Ironman...a stroke of genius!

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    1. Hee, thanks! Ford as Ironman is my favorite too. Well, and Roy Rogers as Coulson. Both would have been so lovely.

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  3. I don't know The Avengers at all, but everybody here sounds perfectly cast as the characters you describe. You've got quite an interesting combination here!

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    1. Thanks! I think these folks would have set the screen ablaze :-D And if you haven't seen The Avengers, all I'm going to say is that my mom, who does not care at all for superhero movies, not only liked it, she asked to see it again.

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  4. Haha, those are some fantastic picks! I especially like your picks for Black Widow, Pepper, and Coulson.

    -James

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    1. Thanks! Pepper was the first one I cast, followed by Banner, and then the rest kind of gradually fell into place.

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  5. WOW! This cast would be perfect! Why must you do this to me?! Both of your imaginary movies sound like things I'd like to see :( well done, Hamlette!

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    1. Do you know how much time I have spent imagining these movies out? A ridiculous amount, I assure you. I'm half tempted to actually write Murder Most Foul as a novel.

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    2. You're not the only one. I've done a lot of imagining "what-if" movies, and later turned the concepts into story ideas!

      This post got me thinking, by the way, of how seldom you see classic films with this many top-tier stars in the cast, unless it was a special epic of some kind where they all had small roles. Wonder why?

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    3. You don't see this many top-tier actors in a cast in classic movies because of the studio system that was still in place. A movie like this would be virtually impossible because some actors belonged to Paramount, some to MGM, some to Warner Brothers, etc, and unless the two studios struck a special deal where they would loan a star or two to another studio, usually in return for the other studio loaning one of their stars in return. By the 1960s the studio system was pretty well shot, but in the '40s it was in full effect still, and it still had a pretty tight hold in the '50s.

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  6. Another great entry--you really have a flair for imaginary casting! I especially like the pairing of Glenn Ford and Lauren Bacall.

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    1. Thanks! I have some practice at this, as a friend and I love to cast the books we write. And sometimes the books we read. Sometimes we even do "modern cast" and "classic cast" for the same story. When we were tossing these Avengers ideas around, she did a 1940s and a 1950s version herself, and we only overlapped on I think 3 actors between our 3 versions, and they were in totally different roles! Endless fun :-)

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  7. Having John Agar as Captain America is brilliant.

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  8. This is a version of The Avengers I surely would watch!
    Your friend gave you a marvelous idea!
    Kisses!

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    1. She's a very inspirational person :-) Glad you enjoyed it!

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  9. This is great!!! I'm sending people to your blog.............

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  10. BTW, everyone -- my b-i-l linked to this post on Reddit here, and it has 26 upvotes! I find that very flattering and slightly scary, lol.

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  11. This is fantastic Hamlette. I love your cast. I really like every single on of the actors; especially Lauren Bacall.

    You know that I would have Richard Armitage in there somewhere. :-)

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    1. Thanks! Though you'd have to tuck Richard Armitage into the time machine along with the script, since I'm pretty sure he wasn't acting in 1956 ;-)

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