sovay: (Claude Rains)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2016-03-18 05:42 pm

But you could write a letter then or, God forbid, come visit me

These days I am falling asleep between eight and nine in the morning, which is a problem since I can't sleep past one in the afternoon at the latest. These are some notes I made the night after I finished writing up the 'Thon in February and then never posted due to a combination of poor self-esteem and generally feeling rotten. I have made a couple of modifications since. After I referred to J.F. Sebastian as the Elisha Cook, Jr. character in Blade Runner (1982),1 I couldn't stop thinking about fancasting the movie with actors from film noir. In more or less the order in which they occurred to me—

I want Thomas Gomez for Gaff. He was one of the few high-profile Latino actors working in the period, even occasionally playing Latino characters, and Phantom Lady (1944) proved that he could do official ambiguous benevolence.

It is extraordinarily tempting to cast Ernest Thesiger as Tyrell, riffing explicitly on Dr. Pretorius; I would just feel bad that the one time he got to kiss another man onscreen, he got his skull crushed immediately afterward. Then again, Thesiger's Tyrell might relish the perversity, being loved and murdered by his most splendid creation. If you have ever seen The Old Dark House (1932), you will know that Thesiger could sound perverse saying, "Have a potato."

Joan Bennett as Zhora. Seeing her as Kitty in Scarlet Street (1945) makes it both plausible and entertaining to imagine her sensually informed scorn for Deckard when he comes supposedly calling from "the Confidential Committee on Moral Abuses." Plus, I could see her rocking a carelessly worn snake. Otherwise I'm thinking Gloria Grahame.

Kim Hunter as Rachael. The slightly vacant quality of innocence she used so effectively for Mary in The Seventh Victim (1943) would suit a character whose memories are almost all fabricated, who can't trust whether her reactions are her own or programmed.

Humphrey Bogart is the obvious but inappropriate casting for Deckard: he's the actor most identified with the noir detective, but he's the wrong archetype completely. Eventually I started to wonder about Cornel Wilde. He has an instantaneous physical magnetism akin to Harrison Ford's and he demonstrated with The Big Combo (1955) that he could play an antihero with a badge and get beaten up with the best of them. There's a slightly opaque quality to him, too, that would incline me toward the ambiguity of whether Deckard is a human being who has closed himself off because of his job or a replicant who is just now beginning to awaken to his limitations and possibilities.

Leon's a bruiser, but he has moments of blunt insight: "Painful to live in fear, isn't it?" I'm thinking William Bendix, best known as the blue-collar hero of The Life of Riley: a big guy, he could be rough-looking and not visibly too bright. He was believably dangerous in The Blue Dahlia (1946).

Pris and Roy are giving me trouble. They need to be beautiful and a little inhuman and ideally Roy's accent would preserve the slight auditory sense of not one of us, that touch of Übermensch. Classic-era noir is just a little too early for Marilyn Monroe, but you see why my first thought went there. Veronica Lake is an appealing alternative: she is stunningly beautiful and tiny and I have seen her do stage magic; I can imagine her impersonating to perfection one of Sebastian's dolls. Everyone I can think of for Roy is the wrong decade—Hardy Krüger wouldn't start acting in English-language film until 1957. I will feel like an idiot when the correct suggestion is made because it should have been obvious.

In an ideal world, I would eventually make a photoset of Blade Runner circa 1948. Realistically, the last time I did that the results were rewarding and the process of putting it together with HTML almost ran my brains out my ears. Tonight I am taking my mother to see Moonrise (1948) at the HFA. I would like to write about it when I return, but I can't make any promises there, either.

1. I think it was only on this last rewatch of The Maltese Falcon (1941) with [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks in November that it occurred to me that even if you miss all the coded gestures and mistake the term "gunsel"—as did Hammett's original editor and the censors of the PCA—for a synonym for "gunman" rather than Yiddish slang for a kept boy, it should still cross your mind at some point that Sydney Greenstreet may have ulterior motives for keeping Elisha Cook, Jr. around because as a gangster Wilmer actually is terrible. It's not just Spade's trash-talk. He's got the affectations down cold, but not the effectiveness—as Spade epigrams it, "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter." He's effortlessly disarmed twice by the same detective. He's got a hair-trigger temper and his gang's time in San Francisco would have gone considerably more smoothly if he hadn't set the freighter Paloma on fire. The kid is a liability. If he were really on hand as protection or enforcement, any employer with the vaguest sense of self-preservation would have cut him loose years ago. But Gutman sticks by him, at least until it becomes more expedient to hand him over to the police, so he must have some redeeming talents.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2016-03-19 12:30 am (UTC)(link)
The kid is a liability. If he were really on hand as protection or enforcement, any employer with the vaguest sense of self-preservation would have cut him loose years ago. But Gutman sticks by him, at least until it becomes more expedient to hand him over to the police, so he must have some redeeming talents.

I have said this before, but I love the way you write abt these movies.
skygiants: Na Yeo Kyeung, from Capital Scandal, giving a big thumbs-up (seal of approval)

[personal profile] skygiants 2016-03-19 02:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, you did take the proposed Moonrise compromise! :D I will look forward to hearing about it.

[identity profile] gwynnega.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 06:37 am (UTC)(link)
I keep thinking Karloff could play Roy. He might be a little old for the role in the late 1940s, but he could probably pull it off.

[identity profile] teenybuffalo.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 04:02 pm (UTC)(link)
It's gotta be Karloff. I can't really see anybody else in the role. Look at him playing chess here: http://41.media.tumblr.com/e3080faf1212b5f3e413b090ac0a8740/tumblr_n2jo3bmnbO1t1g01wo7_1280.jpg

And he was in a lot of proto-noir stuff like "The Man They Could Not Hang" https://scifist.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/1939_the_man_they_006.png

and "The Walking Dead" (1936), which I forget if you've seen, Sovay. It's the perfect combination of Boris Karloff's talents and the cultural baggage that had hung on him since "Frankenstein." Karloff's character is executed for a crime he didn't commit, and returns as someone who might be a zombie, might be a revived human suffering from nerve damage and memory loss, and might be an avenging angel. It's a crime drama/horror movie with poor lighting, lots of Dutch angles and moral discomfort, so if you're doing fantasy casting you'd be totally justified in including 1936-issue Karloff.

There's a good article on "The Walking Dead" here:

http://www.aycyas.com/walkingdead1936.htm

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
It's the perfect combination of Boris Karloff's talents and the cultural baggage that had hung on him since "Frankenstein." Karloff's character is executed for a crime he didn't commit, and returns as someone who might be a zombie, might be a revived human suffering from nerve damage and memory loss, and might be an avenging angel.

I have not seen that, but it sounds terrific. I'll look it up. Thank you!

[identity profile] teenybuffalo.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 06:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh my GOSH I want to hear what you think of this movie. I haven't revisited it in ages but I have a powerful emotional connection to it.

[identity profile] teenybuffalo.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 06:20 pm (UTC)(link)
There's an acceptable-looking version of the film here, for future reference.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1sp7v3_the-walking-dead-1936_shortfilms

[identity profile] gwynnega.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 08:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Seconding the recommendation for The Walking Dead.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 06:00 pm (UTC)(link)
I keep thinking Karloff could play Roy.

That's a completely different direction than I was thinking in, but that's really interesting. Drop the youthful physical beauty, leave the air of authority and the uncanny?
Edited 2016-03-19 18:12 (UTC)

[identity profile] teenybuffalo.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 06:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Drop the physical beauty

first of all HOW DARE YOU


*gratuitous pic of Karloff with his shirt off*

*long rant about how Rutger Hauer isn't All That*

*sullen remark about how my monster husband is beautiful just the way he is*

*realizes this comment wasn't addressed to me and that other people's opinions are allowed to differ*

*coughs and subsides*

...One of the important things about Roy in Blade Runner, as far as I recall, is that in some respects he's a small child in a thirty-five-year-old body. Even when he gets violent he does it in silly ways that a little kid would do if given control of an adult body. That's where the Karloff element comes in, for me. The Universal Frankenstein movies sure do call for a lot of acting like a toddler in a giant adult body with dangerous strength.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 08:57 pm (UTC)(link)
in some respects he's a small child in a thirty-five-year-old body. Even when he gets violent he does it in silly ways that a little kid would do if given control of an adult body. That's where the Karloff element comes in, for me.

That makes sense to me.

[identity profile] gwynnega.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 08:52 pm (UTC)(link)
I was going to defend Karloff's looks, but [livejournal.com profile] teenybuffalo more than covered that!

Then it occurred to me that the world's most perfect casting would be Max von Sydow, except that Sydow would be a tad too young in the late 1940s...

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 09:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I was going to defend Karloff's looks, but teenybuffalo more than covered that!

I don't think Karloff isn't interesting to look at. Rutger Hauer's Roy fits a very specific physical ideal which for me informs the character in a way I feel shouldn't have been impossible to approximate in the 1940's, especially with the tidal wave of German emigrés in Hollywood (I know Hauer was Dutch, I also know how Americans are about European accents), except that I'm having trouble finding anyone!

Then it occurred to me that the world's most perfect casting would be Max von Sydow, except that Sydow would be a tad too young in the late 1940s...

Seriously! Everyone who occurred to me for Roy was either Conrad Veidt or a decade too late.
Edited 2016-03-19 21:20 (UTC)

[identity profile] moon-custafer.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 12:31 pm (UTC)(link)
If only Conrad Veidt hadn't died in 1943. I suppose he might have been a bit old for Roy anyway.

Deckard when he comes supposedly calling from "the Confidential Committee on Moral Abuses."

I agree that Bogart wouldn't work as Deckard, but I'm convinced that scene was inspired by the one in The Big Sleep where Marlowe cases the suspicious bookstore by posing as a nerdy/possibly gay bibliophile.

[identity profile] sovay.livejournal.com 2016-03-19 05:36 pm (UTC)(link)
If only Conrad Veidt hadn't died in 1943. I suppose he might have been a bit old for Roy anyway.

He was still one of the people I thought of. Paul Henreid circa Night Train to Munich (http://sovay.livejournal.com/386905.html) (1940) was another, but by the noir era his image was entirely different.

I agree that Bogart wouldn't work as Deckard, but I'm convinced that scene was inspired by the one in The Big Sleep where Marlowe cases the suspicious bookstore by posing as a nerdy/possibly gay bibliophile.

I would believe it. I could see Deckard doing that thing with his hatbrim.
Edited 2016-03-19 17:37 (UTC)