Needlessly Silly Mid-Week Post: Pre-Makes™️

What a terrible yet brilliant idea: Stars of yesteryear in movies of today.

Needlessly Silly Mid-Week Post: Pre-Makes™️
Peck-Wick: If Gregory Peck starred in "John Wick"

I know the world is falling apart around our ears, and the mainstream media is obsessing over student protests as a way to not talk about what those students are actually protesting against, and in his recent op-ed piece Columbia professor/New York Times columnist John McWhorter hilariously misunderstands the entire point of John Cage's seminal silent-music piece "4'33"" (because Cage meant listeners to attend to the sounds of the present moment for those four minutes and thirty-three seconds, and if those sounds include, say, "infuriated chanting from protesters outside the building," well, then, that's the present moment). I know all that is going on but excuse me while I temporarily blank out the news with a stupid idea that occurred to me this morning, courtesy of the ever-delightful Benjamin Dreyer on Bluesky. Which is: What if movies of today were made in the past using stars of the studio era? I call such non-existent films Pre-Makes™️, a phrase that is now legally mine because I have put a little trademark emoji next to it.

The obvious example is Gregory Peck in "John Wick," mostly because Keanu Reeves has always struck me as the Peck of our era: Handsome, noble, excitingly dull, and with a nasty streak that rarely gets a chance to come out and play. (Cf., "Duel in the Sun.") But why, of course, stop there? Can you imagine the following pre-makes? I can.

 “Oppenheimer” starring Paul Muni (complicated only by the fact that Muni's career of impersonating famous scientists was pretty much over before The Manhattan Project got underway.)

“Anatomy of a Fall” starring Bette Davis – Self-explanatory this, although it would be very clear that A) she did it and B) he deserved it.

 “Poor Things” with Louise Brooks as Bella Baxter, George Arliss as God, Ronald Colman as Duncan Wedderburn, Maria Ouspenskaya as The Procuress, and George Sanders as Harry Astley. Any suggestions for Max McCandles?

“All of Us Strangers” starring Cary Grant and Randolph Scott (Warning: the linked article is absolutely scurrilous Hollywood gossip.)

“Before Sunset” with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and as many sequels as Mr. Mayer would allow.

“Get Out” starring Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton, which, honestly, is how it should have gone in the first place.

“In the Mood for Love” with Anna May Wong and Sessue Hayakawa – Yes, I know she's Chinese and he's Japanese, but they were both ridiculously hot in their day, and this would have immolated the screen if it had somehow come to pass in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” with Humphrey Bogart and Tura Satana

“Phantom Thread” starring John Gilbert and Greta Garbo

“The Wolf of Wall Street” with James Cagney

Every Tom Hanks movie pre-made with James Stewart

Deep cut: “Mulholland Dr.” with Thelma Todd and Patsy Kelly

I mentioned all this on social media – the only place the idea deserves to flourish – and quickly got some excellent suggestions in response. To wit:

"Barbie" with Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea

"Tár" with Marlene Dietrich

"The Fast and the Furious" with Robert Mitchum and Montgomery Clift

"Drive" with Warren Beatty

"Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" with Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, and Doris Day

"The Silence of the Lambs" with Boris Karloff and Margaret Sullavan

"Hereditary" with Joan Crawford and Sally Jane Bruce, a.k.a. the spooky little girl from "Night of the Hunter" (A tip of the Hatlo hat to Oscar Goff for that one.)

Okay, now it's time for all you Watch List subscribers to come up with your own pre-make ideas, or add to someone else's. Bring it on, folks, and don't disappoint me.

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