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Friday, July 27, 2012

The Great Recasting | Barefoot in the Park (1943)

Welcome, guys, to the first day of the blogathon!! Nat and I are really excited and a load of links have already come in and we can't wait to get through them all. :) Once again, as you have your post written you can leave it on this post, or my update post, or any post really - just so long I get them. :D 

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I went through a lot of indecision, but for my recasting I finally came to the conclusion of Barefoot in the Park (1967). A mere two years from our 1965 cutoff date, I'm sure it wouldn't be considered a "modern" movie by most, but it's still a few years off from the "studio era" (of course, Nat and I were well aware that the studio system was nearly long gone by '65, but the 60s fan in me nudged it over a bit. Hope no one minded).

Barefoot in the Park might not be five star viewing, but it's a movie I love - and have loved for quite a bit - all the while. Its stars are Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, two of my favorite actors from that interchanging period between the decline of the studio system and the dawn of modern movies. I really like the both of them and they're absolutely fabulous in the film as a "stuffed shirt" Paul and free spirit Corrie. (They're also seriously beautiful looking together.) They are supported by a very bohemian Charles Boyer and a delicate Mildred Natwick, the graceful character actress I very much love. It is directed by Gene Saks (Cactus Flower).

The plot is a prime example of 1960s fluff, and its one of the main reasons I love it. In the 1967 trailer it's advertised as "one of the happiest movies," and I couldn't agree more. This is a pick-me-up sort of movie that I can always rely on to cheer me up, one I've seen countless times with my mom, so much so that I know all the lyrics to Shama-Shama. Each time I finish watching it, I feel like I've swallowed a big gulp of fresh air and it's always guaranteed to leave me with a smile on my face. And then I feel like running barefoot through the park, too.


Jane Fonda plays Corrie Bratter, a pretty girl with a thirst for adventure and excitement. She's the type of character that'll never turn down the opportunity to do something wild, like dancing to exotic music, tasting strange foods, and appropriately, running barefoot through the park. She's madly in love with a man quite her opposite: Paul Bratter, played by Robert Redford. He's a quiet and neat attorney who likes to follow the rules, stay within the lines, and stick to the familiar. As it so often happens in romantic comedies, opposites attract, and the movie starts off with the newlyweds at the Plaza Hotel for a week long honeymoon that leaves Paul's lips "numb from kissing."

As he heads off to work on the last day of their honeymoon, Corrie rushes off to get settled in their new apartment. A small flat overlooking New York City, there are six flights (plus a steep stoop which Paul calls "that big thing out front") to reach the Bratter apartment at the top. Their apartment complex is also shared by some of "the greatest weirdos in the country," including a couple of whose sex no one is quite sure of. The bedroom can barely fit a bed and to Paul's chagrin, there's no bath, but worst of all, there's a hole in the skylight! They can't figure out how to work the radiator, and it's February, so they spend their first night in the apartment freezing as snow collects in their living room through the skylight.

But Corrie, being the free spirit she is, can't help but love the new apartment, as well as makes friends with the avant-garde bohemian that lives in the attic, Victor Velasco, played by Charles Boyer. He eats strange Japanese foods and scales the building to get into his apartment. Corrie decides to play matchmaker with Victor and her dainty mother, Ethel, (played by Mildred Natwick) who lives out in Connecticut and sleeps on a board each night - more like Paul than Corrie. Naturally, disasters occur which are exemplified by the Bratters' strange living conditions, and puts a humongous stain on the Bratter marriage. And, of course, all these events unfold in utter hilarity.

It's a super fun film. It is based off a Neil Simon play of the same name which premiered in 1963. The dialogue is truly funny, there's a dash of physical comedy involved, and the characters hit their marks. I'm sure there are those that definitely wouldn't agree with me, but in my humble opinion this is a good example of a fluffy movie that can be pretty darn excellent for its genre. To sum the movie up: it's a comical spoof on being newlyweds.

Okay, so now that I'm babbled enough about the movie - and I'm crossing my fingers you grasped the plot, but if you need some help still, check this out - let's get onto the recasting!



I have chosen the year 1943 to recast the film. Twenty-four years before the original release date, my version of the movie would have been released into World War II America, where fluffy, cheerful films were just the kind of getaway moviegoers needed at the cinema. The story is definitely a comedy, requiring a bit of physical comedy  (that mainly has to do with the six flights to reach the Bratter apartment) that, if produced in 1943, could have even resulted in a screwball comedy. That's a entraining thought. The 1967 movie came from the stage as well as by then the screwball comedy was near extinct. But in 1943, this could have easily transferred in a ridiculous romp: with Corrie's vivacious, daffy personality and Paul playing her straight man.

As for the character of Paul Bratter, I have gone with Cary Grant. Cary, my favorite actor was a flawless human being who I would be happily married to  could play anything, and he was particularly fantastic at comedy. Paul is a conservative guy who Corrie accuses of being a "stuffed shirt". Cary was a fantastic straight man to Katharine Hepburn's zany Susan in The Perfect Screwball Comedy (Bringing up Baby), so I think the casting of him as Paul would be spot on.

Then there is Corrie Bratter, a young woman with a magnificent lust for life and thirst for adventure. For this role, I have chosen my second favorite actress, my favorite Swede, that wonderful doll, Ingrid Bergman. Perhaps casting early 1940s Ingrid in this role is against type. After all, there are probably quite a few other actresses at the time who would, by studio moguls, have been considered more appropriate for the role. Though it is true that Ingrid in the 40s did pretty much all dramas (though she did get to show off her comedic flair a little in The Bells of St. Mary's), there's no question that she could do comedy. She got opportunities to do so later in her career: Indiscreet (1958) - also with Cary - The Yellow Rolls Royce (1964), Cactus Flower (1969) - which was a role that had been originally offered to my Lucy - but never in her studio system days. Which is a shame because Ingrid was fantastic at comedy. She had good timing combined with a almost nonchalant subtly to her comedy, and she was fantastic. I adore Ingrid being funny. (She also nearly worked with the Queen of Comedy, Lucy, on an episode of Here's Lucy, but due to some technical difficulties it fell through. ugh. I could DIE.)

I also picked Ingrid because as it is well obvious to anyone who has seen Notorious (1946) - and if you haven't, please go and do so - that Ingrid and Cary have really some of the best chemistry on screen, especially amazing considering they were never romantically involved in real life, wonderful friends, but never lovers. (Though, in my fantasy world, they might've been married...) They re-teamed for Indiscreet twelve years later, a movie that's far from perfect, but I love anyways pretty much because of the two of them. That's a comedy, but I did want to cast them in something when they were younger, hence the year 1943 - Cary would've been thirty-nine, maybe a little long in the tooth for a newlywed but it wouldn't have mattered, and Ingrid would've been twenty-eight - and more youthful. Corrie and Paul are a couple that's really quite in love for a great deal of the picture and Cary and Ingrid would've captured that perfectly. It's the romance of Notorious (which was spoiled when they become bitter to each because of the project, etc.) in the setting of a movie like Indiscreet.


Also, at the end of the day, it only seemed fair that Ingrid & Cary should be the main players of my be recasting, for they were what inspired this blogathon (that time I did a tumblr text post wondering what a 40s version of The Sound of Music would be like with Maria and the Captain played by these two flawless beings).



[all GIFs in this post are mine - the dialogue is from Barefoot in the Park.]


For the role of Victor Velasco, I chose John Barrymore. It was nearly obvious that I was going to have to go with one of the Barrymores for the amorous Victor. Of course, Ethel was out and I couldn't picture Lionel-Mr.Potter.-Barrymore in this type of a role at all. There was always the opportunity to resort to other male character actors of the early 40s - I mean, they were definitely plenty - but none of them deemed the perfect type for the role. John Barrymore, however, I feel would click right into it. Whenever I see John Barrymore, he's playing slightly 'lost' characters, so I could definitely see him tackling on this role. 

And as for an older lady actress appropriate for Victor's affections, I struggled with this quite a bit. All the character actresses I could think of would've sent this movie into a time warp: Thelma Ritter (who didn't seem appropriate besides; for even though I love her I think of her as secretaries and housekeepers), Mildred Natwick (well obviously not!), Mildred Dunnock, etc. All of them were all 50s. I was torn trying to find an actress of the right age. I even considered changing the character to an old maid sister. Finally, I landed up choosing Beulah Bondi. I wish I could have chosen a actress with more star power, but I suppose Bondi would round out the film making it financially possible. (I got to add here, if this film were going to be redone today - I mean, God forbid but still - wouldn't Julie Andrews be a good choice for this role? Maybe Jools is about five or ten years too old in reality, but she doesn't look it.) 

Then there is the director. The director of the '67 film was Gene Saks - Bye Bye Birdie, Cactus Flower, The Odd Couple, Mame. Obviously, there are many directors of the early 40s that would've been compatible with the cast and would've been fit to direct a screwball comedy (for, like I said, I can definitely see it going in that direction). So many choices! Preston Sturges, George Cukor, perhaps an early Billy Wilder - all directors I like very much, but in the end I chose Howard Hawks. Why Hawks? Well, after all, he did direct Bringing up Baby, which, as I said earlier, is my idea of the perfect screwball comedy. Obviously, Cary and Hawks collaborated together but Ingrid and him never did. And so the opportunity for these to greats to have worked together would be too awesome for me to pass up. 



Like I said earlier, this blogathon came as a result of my fantastic imagination dreaming up a 40s version of The Sound of Music with Ingrid and Cary. While that movie most likely would've turned out a hot mess, I have good reason to believe that a film like this could've, in reality, worked. Of course, the point of this blogathon was to play with your imagination and entertain your wildest fantasies - but still, I can't help but have this glimmer of hope that in all honesty, perhaps Barefoot in the Park could've worked in 1943. I mean, after all - The Hayes Code Office would've likely given a stamp of approval to pretty much all aspects of this film (of course, the shots of Corrie in a bra and the newlyweds lying in the same bed together would have to be cut, but otherwise).

And if it were to have actually been made, I could see this being a quality film. Not even the sort you like just because your favorite leads are in it, but a genuinely good movie. This is my own humble opinion of course, and it has to do a lot with the fact that I love the movie. Because, to me, as the script is actually funny, the storyline entertaining, and the score excellent, I can only see turning the decades a few back, adding Ingrid and Cary in the leads, and putting Hawks in the director's chair as enhancing a film which was pretty good to begin with!

Alas, we'll never know, for the play wasn't even written until the 60s. Cest la'vie, I suppose.

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Okay, that's all for my side of the blogathon! :) The running list of links as they come in (as hosted by me) can be found here. The second part of the blogathon will take place tomorrow over at Nat's blog. THIS IS SO MUCH FUN, GUYS! Thanks for joining in with us!


30 comments:

Sofia said...

Oh my, I wish this were true! Grant and Bergman were intoxicating in Notorious. I still haven't watched Indiscreet, because I'm saving it (stupid, but true). And can you imagine a screwball comedy with those two? Exciting stuff, miss.

And you even made a poster! Good job, Rianna!

Margaret Perry said...

I love the idea that this could almost be in the same flavor of Bringing Up Baby, what with Grant and Howard Hawks directing. Actually, I think I'd enjoy your version better than the original!
Here's the link to my recasting of Harry Potter:
http://thegreatkh.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-great-recasting-blogathon-2012.html

Laura said...

Grant and Bergman's scenes in Notorious are some of the most romantic ever filmed. This would be delightful. Great ideas!

said...

Rianna, I'm sure this moive would work perfectly in 1943. Grant and Bergman showed their chemistry in a comedy very well in Indiscreet, but being younger they would be better together. I'm also a Robert Redford fan, and Cary would replace him with perfection. And Ingrid being the free-spirited girl would be awesome. Imagine her doing Cary`s freaky dance in Indiscreet!
I'm having a lot of fun with this blogathon, and I also could know better Natalie's blog.
Kisses!

VP81955 said...

I don't mean to rain on your parade...but John Barrymore died in the spring of 1942.

FlickChick said...

Well, so far this blogathon is proving my theory: any movie is better with Cary Grant. A swell post - this would be not only an improvement, but a totally delightful film. Really well done - and thanks for hosting this awesome event.

David said...

Hello Rianna!

How are you? Long time no see :D So thankful you and Natalie are hosting this great blogathon. The following is my link to the hastily created entry on Winds of War: http://www.film-classics.com/archives/9283

Nearly forgot the deadline till I checked Natalie's blog this afternoon! Ah well, nothing better than a panic written article! :-) Enjoy!

Warm Regards,
David.
FilmClassics

Lasso The Movies said...

John Barrymore, Cary Grant and Bergman. Three of my favorites in a "feel good" movie. Great choices!

R.C. said...

I couldn't agree more with you on your recasting. If only it HAD happened.

Here's my contribution to yours and Nat's blogathon:

http://theshadesofblackwhite.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-great-recasting-blogathon-splash.html

Natalie said...

Rianna! This was great! I really want to see the real movie now...but I want to see your version better. :D Thanks for hosting this with me. <3

Rich said...

Great job with the poster. Was that photo colored that way originally?

Dawn said...

I love the film Barefoot in the Park, with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. I never would have thought to recast the film with Cary Grant and Bergman. Good Job!!

Alyssa LM said...

great post, i love the original but would love to see your version, georgous poster.
my mum and i have been recasting - it's been really fun and it's quite hard to do.

Rianna said...

Ingrid and Cary had some of the best chemistry I've seen in Notorious. I understand about Indiscreet; I saved it until last year! And yes, a screwball comedy with these two, in my opinion, would just be one of the most exciting things. I'm glad you liked it!! :)

Rianna said...

Thank you so much! If only this had been made, I would just fangirl completely over Ingrid and Cary in a screwball comedy. :D

Rianna said...

Agree with you completely about Notorious...thanks so much!

Rianna said...

Exactly, I loved their pairing in Indiscreet but it would nice to have seen them in a comedy younger and at the prime of the career. Cary would be right at home in the role I think and I'd love seeing Ingrid dancing to Shama Shama. In fact, that might've been the best thing ever. Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And yes, definitely give Nat's blog a close look, she's the loveliest!

Rianna said...

Oops! But it could still work. Perhaps this was made in early 1942 and put on the shelf until '43, as was the case with many films. And perhaps this was John Barrymore's swan song, released after his death a la Lombard & Dean.

Rianna said...

Agree with you completely. Any movie with Cary Grant could be a improvement. Thank you so much!

Rianna said...

Hi David, long time no see as well! (I'm so lazy about commenting sometimes it's awful). I really enjoyed your post, left a comment there! :D

Rianna said...

I could see this as being a cheerful, 'feel good' sort of movie as well, and I wish so badly it had existed. Thanks so much!

Rianna said...

Thanks!! Really enjoyed your post, too, left a comment there!!

Rianna said...

Thanks so much, Nat! I hope you check out the real movie too, its sweet. And aww, yes, I really wish my version existed. Oh well. Likewise! <3

Rianna said...

Yes, it was! Thank you, I'm glad you liked it (I wish I had been able to work on it and make something better, but oh well, didn't have enough time).

Rianna said...

Thank you!! :)

Rianna said...

thanks so much!! Yes, recasting is a ton of fun, but its a bit hard as well, I struggled with the Bondi character for quite a bit!

Josh said...

Great recasting. You can't go wrong with Grant and Bergman. And Howard Hawks at the helm? Ah, I really wish this was an existing version of the film.

said...

Rianna, I came back to tell a small anecdote about Myrna Loy and Jean Harlow. They were close friends and once traveled along William Powell, Jean's boyfriend at the time. They checked in in a hotel and the secretary put "Mr William and Myrna Powell" in the same bedroom, mistaking them with Nick and Nora Charles. Jean got a smaller bedroom, but during the night Bill moved to Jean's bedroom and Jean spent the night talking and laughing with Myrna in the larger bedroom. :)

Dani said...

That's actually a great idea. It's a shame this movie was never made. I think Robert was great in the '67 movie, but Cary would have been sensational, especially, as you said, if it had been a screwball comedy.
I thought the gifs were a nice touch to the post. They helped me to visualize how the movie would have turned out.
And, on a side note, was this your most popular post? I see that you got a lot of comments on this one.

think taps said...

Aw Thanks dear I just wanna say that you are right about the blogging trends. It seems that many more bloggers now using BE as their blogging plat form

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