August 21st, 2020

carole lombard 05
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Retrocast redux: Carole and husbands go Goldie in "Seems Like Old Times"



What's this, you're asking? It's my brain having some fun again, that's what. More than eight years ago, I participated in a blogathon called "The Great Recasting," where post-1965 films were "created" with pre-1965 personnel. My choice was to convert the 1992 comedy "Housesitter," starring Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin...



...into a 1938 comedy vehicle for Carole Lombard and Cary Grant (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/530851.html), directed by Mitchell Leisen. Since Carole and Cary never made a comedy together, I decided to imagine them in one.

Alas, at the time I didn't create a pseudo-poster for the production, something I did the following year for Carole and Myrna Loy in a 1928 silent recasting of the 1987 Shelley Long-Bette Midler buddy comedy "Outrageous Fortune" (https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/645254.html):



So now we have one. (The still is from the 1939 drama "In Name Only," but it'll do.)

Watching Goldie nearly two weeks ago, when her day was celebrated on Turner Classic Movies' "Summer Under The Stars," I got the idea to again retrocast Lombard in a Hawn role. This time, the film we're using comes from the fertile comic mind of Neil Simon...



..."Seems Like Old Times," a marital romantic comedy from 1980, when Goldie was at her commercial peak. It reteamed her with Chevy Chase, her partner from "Foul Play" two years earlier, with Charles Grodin as the third leg of this romantic triangle (he's her current husband, Chevy's her ex). And yes, that title is meant to evoke the screwball movies of the 1930s.

It's plenty of fun -- Hawn's a soft-hearted defense attorney, Grodin an L.A. assistant district attorney who has his eye set on becoming state attorney general (hey, it worked for Kamala Harris!), and Chase a writer who gets involved in a bank holdup, then escapes to ask his wife for legal assistance while he hides in the garage of her Brentwood mansion.

I could see Lombard in a role like this for several reasons. First, Goldie's character is idealistic, fights for the downtrodden and adores animals, just like Carole...




...and second, while I'm setting this film in 1940, during Carole's dramatic period, her proposed co-stars might win her over back to comedy. As her character's current husband, herown current husband, Clark Gable:



As her ex, someone who'd been in that real-life role for seven years, William Powell, shown here dancing with Lombard in early 1940, about the time he surprised Hollywood by marrying Diana Lewis:



Now many of you are probably saying, didn't the Gables vow never to make a film together? True, but we all have our price -- and since Carole and Clark both had fondness for Powell, who was gradually recovering from the rectal cancer that laid him low in 1937 and '38, they might have agreed to this one life-imitates-art exception.



Could Bill perform the physical humor Chase specialized in? Sure, within reason (see 1940's "I Love You Again" for proof). And Gable would do well in the Grodin role, sort of a reversed version of "Manhattan Melodrama," though here it's Lombard, not Loy, in the romantic triangle.



Of course, the film would be made at MGM, Gable and Powell's home studio. And unlike Lombard's previous movie at Metro, the lackluster "The Gay Bride" (1934), this would be a top-flight production, given all the shine (and hype) Louis B. Mayer could muster.

Jay Sandrich (whose father Mark directed several Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals and is best known as a frequent director of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show") directed the 1980 version. The '40 "Old Times" chores go to Jack Conway of "Libeled Lady" fame.

Now, the poster for this fictional '40 film:



Think you'd enjoy seeing it? I think many moviegoers in 1940 would.
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