OK, I am the studio head and have access to two hundred million dollars. I have been asked to remake ten classics made before 1970, and attach actors to the projects to speed up the casting process. In some cases, I see more than one actor or actress in a role, and I say that. Here are the ten films I choose to remake along with the casting hopefuls. Each film can cost no more than twenty million dollars so much will be said to the actors about being involved in something very special.
1. THE SEARCHERS (1956) – In the role of Ethan Edwards, the best performance of John Wayne’s career, there are three actors I can see doing this one, beginning with Harrison Ford (my first choice) along with Jeff Bridges (right behind him) and Tommy Lee Jones. Should the director want a younger Ethan, who not Woody Harrelson?
2. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962) – Who defines decency like Gregory Peck did in the sixties? Tough call, but you need an actor for the role of Atticus Finch, a gifted and brilliant actor who could be a lawyer but also a father. Johnny Depp gets the job for me.
3. THE MAN OF ONE THOUSAND FACES (1957) – James Cagney portrayed silent screen legend Lon Chaney in this powerful biopic of the fifties. Today I would cast without hesitation Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Chaney.
4. SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950) – Meryl Streep gets the call as Norma Desmond, the silent screen star who has slipped into utter madness. As the writer she takes into her home and bed, I like Armie Hammer or Andrew Garfield.
5. THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)…Henry Fonda became a legend with his powerful performance as Tom Joad, and I believe Leonardo di Caprio, Christian Bale or Ben Foster could do the part justice today. As Ma Joad, no question…Kathy Bates.
6. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) – Two major screen actresses get a chance to go wildly over the top and have a blast hating each other in this twisted film that originally starred Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Streep again gets the call, with Glenn Close or Jessica Lange going toe to toe with her.
7. JULIUS CAESAR (1953) – How’s this for unconventional Shakespeare, an all black cast of Julius Caesar. Yes, Brando was superb in 1953, but Terence Howard would make a superb Anthony, while Jamie Foxx would be superb as Brutus. As Caesar? Denzel Washington, who else?
8. WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) – The film was based on the Broadway play, and initially featured Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor doing the best work of their career. I would cast, guess who, Streep again as loud mouth Martha, and for George, one could go with Jack Nicholson or if the director wanted younger, Alec Baldwin or George Clooney.
9. THE HUSTLER (1961)…Easiest casting choice of the article, Ben Foster takes over for Paul Newman as Fast Eddie Felson. Sean Penn plays the demented and dangerous Bert, his Satanic manager, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Minnesota Fats, or Robert de Niro (with some pounds). For the Piper Laurie role, Jennifer Connelly.
10. GIANT (1956) – George Clooney as Bick Benedict, the role Rock Hudson portrayed, with Natalie Portman or Julia Roberts as his wife, the role originally played by Elizabeth Taylor. In the key part of Jett Rink, which James Dean made famous, Ryan Gosling.
Thoughts?And how about yours?? But before 1970, for now….