Of All The Films, In All The World…

Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb

It was obvious I would discuss this; The Observer writes a short piece about *shudder* Casablanca 2: As Time Goes By:

According to a planned sequel to the 1942 classic, the couple, played by Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart, had a child together who was brought up in America by Lund and her husband, the principled humanitarian Victor Laszlo. The sequel, Return to Casablanca or As Time Goes By, is being developed in Hollywood by Warner Bros and will see Lund’s illegitimate son return to North Africa to seek out his real father’s past.

Read the full article here.

So the frustration sets in – and I partly blame myself. The only reason I even know about this information is because I read an awful amount of film news on a regular basis. There are bound to be thousands of films that have fell by the wayside because, when the studios have to stump up the money, they simply cannot take the risk of destroying an established property at the same time as releasing an expensive film that additionally fails to bring it enough to justify the cost. If I was your average Joe-the-Plumber, I wouldn’t know about this until I see the trailer before a film at the cinema. The plot thickens though as Howard Koch, a co-writer of the original, has a script from 1980 which Warner Bros. are rumoured to be adapting – but again, this doesn’t matter because there are plenty of pseudo-sequels sitting on the shelf and written by the writers of the original classics. Two come to mind. The Godfather: Part IV had plans written up by Mario Puzo, whereby (it was rumoured) that Leonardo DiCaprio would play the young Sonny (played by James Caan in The Godfather) in a split storyline as Andy Garcia (from The Godfather: Part III) rises ever-higher in the Italian Mafia. Secondly, original writers Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison had a treatment for E.T.: Nocturnal Fears whereby the story is flipped round – and aliens return to earth and, rather than explore in a nice-alien manner … instead, they are “evil” and are carnivores. Chaos ensues. *shudder* Return To Casablanca is about a young man who, after finding that the man who raised him is not his biological father, searches for his actual father. This man is the child of Rick and Ilsa – and he was brought-up by Lazslo and Ilsa assuming he would never know who Rick truly is. To be honest, it sound as ridiculous as E.T.: Nocturnal Fears - so maybe the studio itself leaked the information to feel-out the audience reaction and expectation.

But lets change-gear a moment. We are in a time whereby CGI and motion-capture technology is advancing rapidly. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow managed to use archive footage of Laurence Olivier to create a character around a deceased actor. Terminator Salvation managed to use Arnold Schwarzenegger – from 1984 – in a crucial action-sequence. Tron: Legacy (badly) managed to de-age Jeff Bridges. Forrest Gump slotted Tom Hanks into important historical events – and the footage still stands-up today! Maybe, just maybe, Warner Bros. have the technology to bring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman back to life? Maybe these two actors would reprise their roles in almost-cameo appearances – before young Rick ventures of into the world for the majority of the film before meeting, in one final scene, Bogie at the end. At the very least, it would be ground-breaking.

Then my imagination really peaks – if actors could be recast, from any time period, in any film, in any franchise. What could you do with that technology? Could The Dark Knight trilogy have a final scene between Batman and the Joker in the cells of Arkham Asylum? Could the original Sean Connery, from Goldfinger, return as 007 in Bond 24? Could Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable return for Gone with the Wind 2? Maybe, with Ghostbusters III becoming a problem, they could set it immediately after Ghostbusters II with motion-captured characters de-ageing the four heroes. I’ll bet Bill Murray still wouldn’t budge. Maybe, using scripts and notes from directors, they could re-film sequences which were thought to be lost? Maybe The Magnificent Ambersons could be completed in the absence of Orson Welles?

It’s a dream – and probably one which would be short-lived if such a future was possible. ‘Classic Films’ fall into two categories – a unique film and and innovative film. And yes, a film could be both. Casablanca is perfect because of all the factors of its production – because of the actors involved, because of the time it was released, because of the unconventional ending. Psycho is flawless because of who directed it; that you couldn’t enter cinemas late; that the lead, famous actress, was killed off in the first act; that it had a twist ending no-one saw coming. These films weren’t new styles of filmmaking akin to bullet-time or breaking-the-fourth wall, techniques that could be improved upon and built upon. These films tell stories that could not be retold and could not be re-acted or re-created. Everything about the films are unique.

But it is worth noting that there is currently a Psycho II, Psycho III, Psycho IV: The Beginning (all of which stars Anthony Perkins) and, in production now, is a TV series: Bates Motel. So, I guess, if they can do that to a Hitchcock ‘classic’, anything is possible.
Simon Columb

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