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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hypothetical Casting - How to Marry a Millionaire

Good evening everyone. For those who keep a close eye on my humble blog, I hope you enjoyed my most recent post that provided a possible casting list of Dan Brown's extraordinary Lost Symbol screen adaptation. Why do I have such a desire? Well, the following post will be of a similar nature (in case you were not already aware of the title and new label). Yes, I shall make this sort of posting a habitual "thing" because, well, I enjoy bringing literary characters to life. (That is, if I liked the novel enough to do so.) Along with book-to-screen adaptations, there are many other genres of film to provide a Hypothetical Casting for, such as remakes, biographies, and films that had awful casting to begin with (I'm looking at you, My Week With Marilyn). With this particular post, I shall share a potential list of actors for a remake of a beloved classic: that being, How to Marry a Millionaire.



I came about rewatching this delightful classic by simply browsing through my television, obviously at what was playing on Turner Classic Movies, a channel you all should become acquainted with. At that fateful hour of eight o'clock, How to Marry a Millionaire was to begin, giving me an utmost sense of good fortune and unexplained ecstasy. (I just love catching great films at the opportune moment.) I've seen this under-appreciated gem before, long ago, when I was getting familiar with the work of Marilyn Monroe, and I recall a pleasant feeling upon watching it. Really, the film is an absolute treat to anyone who enjoys that warm 1950s setting, when films were innocent and naturally wonderful. While it may not garner major Academy Awards to its title, How to Marry a Millionaire is recognized for the charismatic actresses on screen, who include Lauren Bacall, as the sharp Schatze Page, Betty Grable, as the amusing Loco Dempsey, and, of course, the breath-taking Marilyn Monroe, as the ditzy Pola Debevoise. The entire film is a sure-thing when it comes to plot and humor, for its time. I say "for its time" because a film like this would, most likely and unfortunately, be criticized for being too corny or otherwise terrible. (Now, why is that? Just because a movie doesn't have a complex, nearly impossible-to-understand plot with pseudo-talented actors, does not call for cruelty. That's directed to you, critics.)

How to Marry a Millionaire follows three beautiful women trying to capture a millionaire for a husband. Simple plot, yes? But that doesn't mean it's predictable in an irritating way! As I just said, movies can be enjoyable, and even fantastic, with a simple idea and to-the-point context (including humor). As you should be aware, humor in the 1950s was much different than it is today. In this new decade of 2010s, humor is classified as awkward jokes that, generally, are not accepted as funny, so much so that they, in turn, do become hilarious. This form of humor is demonstrated by actors such as Jason Segal (in an absolutely unfunny way) and, maybe, Michael Cera (in which case it is amusing). The source of humor of our modern era is not the issue here (though it may be in future posts). Back to the classic film, How to Marry a Millionaire involves three separate love stories that end with each woman marrying exactly what they were not looking for: someone poor, whether they be a forest ranger, a formerly rich man "on the lamb", or a secretly rich man who acts poor, which is yet another gag present in such 1950s films. (Extended sentence. I hope there was no trouble in deciphering my point.) Overall, the film was a sheer delight in re-experiencing, and, therefore, would surely entertain you for the first time, if you haven't yet seen it. (Not to make rash judgement, but you probably haven't, and that is not your fault. Society, it seems, has made classic films a pretentious genre, one only so-called "pseudo-intellectuals" or people searching for bragging rights, have come to admire. Once again, I'm uncertain whether there is a point to this off-tangent dribble, but please consider adding many beloved classic films to your upcoming movie night.)

Moving on to my purpose. As I watched this pleasant comedy again, I could not help but envision a modern remakes, for the subject of this movie is widely known and (deep inside) loved. Yes, even those cynical, intellectual critics have a soft spot for these simple classic plots. I enjoy this process of imagining an alternate reality, which, in other words, is a potential remake. (All this is in the introduction, take a glance.) The most crucial part of creating a remake, or screen adaption or anything similar, is the choice of the cast; each member must be considerate of their preceding counterpart and compatible with their fellow cast mates. While my own list may not be completely accurate in respect for the original (as was my casting list with The Lost Symbol), just be open-minded and not so concerned about the inconsequential details. (May I remind you that Michelle Williams looks nothing like Marilyn Monroe, yet they pulled off a decent film either way.) Here are the lovely ladies:

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Schatze Page
Stunning picture, isn't it?
Lauren Bacall
In the original film, the three actresses were described ti be in their vibrant twenties--in their twenties. I emphasize this because it is a tad misleading for more than half of the women. Lauren Bacall, playing a classy, years-beyond-her-wisdom divorcee, acts and looks as if she were in her late thirties, at least, For this reason, I saw Catherine Zeta-Jones assuming the role, not because she falsely portrays women who are noticeably younger than she, but because she is a marvelous and beautiful actress. I think of her as a strong, confident, sexy woman, a breed that has grown scarce in Hollywood. Catherine Zeta-Jones represents that very small group of actresses that displays the elegance of the stunning actresses of the Golden Era of cinema. Moreover, in my opinion, Catherine Zeta-Jones is much more beautiful than the classic-beauty Lauren Bacall herself, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Kathleen Turner. Too bad Kathleen Turner looks like a Mastiff now.

Betty Grable
Kristen Wiig as Loco Dempsey
Her flawless comic timing and facial humor make her (one of) the top choices.

Amy Adams as Loco Dempsey
She just has the face and talent (Miss Pettigrew) for a 1950s-esque comedy.
Onto Betty Grable's character, she, like Lauren Bacall, is clearly over twenty, though this is no glaring issue. It is merely the reason I chose slightly older actresses for the remake than anticipated. Kristen Wiig may be the funniest actress of the past few years, and would certainly accomplish matching, and even surpassing, Betty Grable's amusing performance, especially during the "lodge" scene. Amy Adams, also, would fit in this as she definitely has the role of bright-eyed, optimistic yet hopeless "princess" mastered. (Haven't you heard? She was an enchanting princess in Enchanted. Puns.) Both actresses would be absolutely ideal, so I decided to include them both in this list. What admiration.

Scarlett Johansson as Pola Debevoise
One of many pictures where she is the near-perfect modern Marilyn.

Marilyn Monroe
Choosing Scarlett Johansson shouldn't have been a shock, as she is the keenest Marilyn Monroe of our time--she, not Michelle Williams. (How sad is it that now, every time I mention Marilyn Monroe, I have to also point out the aggravating fact that Michelle Williams depicted her in a biopic. Well, I don't have to. But I kind of do.) Of the three women, Marilyn Monroe actually does fit the film's description of a beautiful woman in her twenties, while also shining on the screen as the most dazzling woman present. I've been known to state the startling resemblance Scarlett Johansson shares with such an iconic actress, and, may I say, how insulting it is that she hasn't been approached once to portray her. I'm sure she could "nail" an impression of Marilyn Monroe; in fact, if she didn't mimic the actress (like others have), she might give a damn good performance. With Scarlett's sultry voice, she could redefine biopic portrayals! But I digress. in How to Marry a Millionaire, especially, I see a clear-cut image of Scarlett Johansson in Marilyn Monroe's role, as the two share an ability to play ditzy, stunning ladies with a surprising sense of humor. The gag of Marilyn Monroe's character being "blind as a bat" is most certainly something Scarlett Johansson is capable of doing. And more than mimicking, she would add a signature all her own. Again, I digress.

There you have it. Yet another possible casting list produced by the never-ceasing imagination of my mind. (Was that redundant?) I rather enjoy these little posts, don't you? Why wouldn't you? Please, if you are willing, comment below for your own suggestions of who should portray whom, or even criticize/praise my choices. You could also suggest other films of which I can provide alternate casting choices. Please, no books, because I highly doubt we would have the same taste in literature. Have a marvelous future.

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