Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Jungle Red Casting Couch. Kind of.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Last CrimeBake, or was it two ago? Jonathan and I dressed as Sam Spade and Brigid O'Shaughnessy.
(Here's a photo of that.) We carried a Maltese Falcon, which was a (don't tell) stuffed owl we had spray-painted black. (It was a costume party, I guess I should explain. We didn't just walk around like that.)

Now, if I may predict? I predict that my dear pal and brilliant author Dana Cameron is now doing a spit-take with her morning coffee. Because she and her husband were just talking about The Maltese Falcon, and Sam and Mary. And their conversation went another way. Not, shockingly, about Jonathan and me as the leads.

Just--listen. And then--see what you think!

Recasting “The Maltese Falcon”
       by Dana Cameron

            Mr. G and I were out walking at a nearby farm, looking for signs of spring.  The discussion, there being no hawks, coyotes, or frogs in view, naturally turned to movies.

            “Okay, we're recasting 'The Maltese Falcon," I said.  “Who plays what role?”

            “What about Matthew McConaughey?” Mr. G said.  “He's got an edgy outsider look I think Sam Spade should have.”
            “What about Russell Crowe?  Think 'L.A. Confidential.'”

            Mr. G shook his head.  “I think of Spade as being on the coffee, cigarette, whisky, and tough steak diet.  Not getting a lot of sleep.  Getting punched or slipped a mickey on a regular basis.  Crowe is too...”

            I kept “fit,” “strapping,” and “physical” to myself. “Healthy?  Then how about Paul Bettany?”

            “Your obsession with him has to stop.” 

        “Are you kidding me?  'Master and Commander' is one of my all-time favorites!  And he's J.A.R.V.I.S in the 'Iron Man and 'Avengers' movies.  He can wear a big white shirt in a period piece while being the heroic scientific outsider and be the perfect wry yet charismatic computer interface voice.”
Photo by Natasha Baucus
            “And when I say 'obsession,' I mean it in the kindest, most clinical sense.”
            “Okay, okay.  Who's going to play the Mary Astor role, Mary O'Shaughnessy?  The manipulative damsel in distress?”  A few more steps, a pause to take a picture of a cow who was studying us through the fence.  “Aha!  Kristen Bell!”

            “Good one!  She can do low-down and dirty—as in 'Deadwood' and in 'House of Lies.'  And in 'Veronica Mars,' she's all kinds of smart and sweet.”

            “Right, I have one:  John Goodman for Gutman, the Sidney Greenstreet character.”

            “Oh, he did good sinister, erudite, and jolly in 'O, Brother'!” 

            We were on a roll, settling on Jon Hamm for the detective, leaving Joel Cairo, played by Peter Lorre, up in the air, narrowed down to D.J. Qualls or Neil Patrick Harris.  I'm convinced IMDB.com is responsible for saving many relationships simply by quickly resolving arguments over who was in what.

            “You'll have to find out who's available,” Mr. G said, as if
we were wrapping up a business meeting, and our people would call their people.  

By the way, who would you cast in Pack of Strays?

Photo by Gage Skidmore

   “Easy.  I'd get Mary Elizabeth Winstead for Zoe Miller.  I loved her look and attitude as Ramona Flowers in 'Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.'  Zoe's an archaeologist but she's also a werewolf,  searching for powerful Fangborn artifacts.  It makes her the ultimate outsider."

     “Sounds like a great part for Paul Bettany.”

 “I'm ignoring you.  And when my editor asked about the unreliable Adam Nichols, to get some cues for the cover art, I knew immediately.  Armie Hammer as Tyler Winkelvoss in 'The Social Network.”  When someone suggests they hire the Sopranos to beat up Zuckerberg, he says, “We can do that ourselves. I'm 6'5", 220, and there's two of me.”  That is exactly Adam's attitude.”
We finished the walk and it was time to move on.  “Okay, next movie.  We're remaking 'The Thin Man.'  Who gets cast as Nora?”

            “No one.  Myrna Loy is Nora Charles forever.  I love Myrna Loy.”

            “When I say 'obsession,' I mean your fixation on Myrna Loy.”

            “We're done here.”

So readers:  Who would you cast in The Maltese Falcon?  Or if you believe it should never be remade, who would play you in the movie of your life?  Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of Pack of Strays!

HANK:  I am still searching for my Jane Ryland...so funny! (I have considered the woman in the Chico's ad. You know who I mean? And I wish it could be Annette Bening, or Rene Russo.)  And I agree about Nora--no one but Myrna.  

And Pack of Strays to one lucky commenter! 


 Dana Cameron can't help mixing in a little history into her fiction.  Drawing from her expertise in archaeology, Dana's work (including traditional mystery, noir, urban fantasy, thriller, and historical tales) has won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards and earned an Edgar Award nomination. 
Her second Fangborn novel, Pack of Strays (47North) picks up where Seven Kinds of Hell  left off.  A Fangborn short story, "The God's Games" appears in Games Creatures Play, and her story, "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars," featuring Pam Ravenscroft from Charlaine Harris's acclaimed Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, will appear in Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse in May.


  1. I am so not good at this recasting film roles game, perhaps because I have a particular dislike of remakes . . . .
    Nevertheless, I am looking forward to reading Dana’s new book . . . .

  2. I have no problem with remakes as a rule. However, I'm afraid I can't picture who I think should be in this particular one. Maybe I need to watch it again.

  3. And, at last Dana Cameron appears on the Reds' blog. I am rather excited, as I have been wanting to read your books, Dana, for some time, and I keep getting sidetracked by new books by already favorite authors and books authored by guests here on this blog. So, finally, I have my excuse to slide you into priority on my TBR massive pile of books. If you are on the Reds' blog, then I have to read you. Hooray! That all sounds good, right? But the real reason you have suddenly gained priority is Paul Bettany, because how could I not read someone who has an obsession with Paul Bettany. My logic goes that Paul Bettany is perfect, and if you are obsessed with him, then you must also be perfect. I think I'm going to need a note from the Reds to display when people come to my house that excuses me from housework due to the excess of reading they have introduced to me. Or, I could just use the old Get Well card propped up, indicating that I've been sick, and dive right into your books.

    Hank, I love the picture, and if there was a prize, I hope you won first. I have played around in my mind about who Jane Ryland would resemble, but I can't seem to settle either. Please let me know if you decide who you would want to play her.

    Oh, speaking of being introduced to authors here, I just finished The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson (won copy here) and loved it. Think Gone Girl meets Body Heat and then things get interesting.

  4. Welcome Dana!

    You had me at "werewolf"...

    OK, casting THE MALTESE FALCON — Jon Hamm and Jennifer Connolly.

  5. Welcome Dana, I'm like Joan and Mark--no good at recasting. But I'd love to hear about your book and your newest publishing experience!

  6. I'm with Joan-- if it was a decent movie, don't remake it. If it wasn't, why bother?

    That said, I don't know who most of the people mentioned ARE. I read, rather than go to movies (did you know you can pick up bedbugs at the movies?) I prefer TV or the computer, especially now that timeshifting has become so much easier.

    And all the new young actors and actresses look alike. Totally interchangeable.

  7. I'd cast Guy Pearce as Spade, thinking of the "blond Satan" description, and his Memento co-star Carrie-Anne Moss as Brigid O'Shaughnessy.

  8. Hi, Dana! Congratulations on the new Fangborn novel!

    I love "who would you cast"...

    Going back to the novel, Gerald So is SO RIGHT... Hammett describes his "hero" as a blond satan. His jaw a jutting v... hooked nose. (So NOT Humphrey Bogart... and NOT Tom Cruise, please not..)

    I agree with people who suggested Matthew McConaughey.

  9. I totally agree, Ellen. I am embarrassed by some of the suggestions. Um, WHO? And I swore I would always know..

    Kathy Reel, I am reading that right now, too!

    And who for Jane Ryland? Well, all I can say is, I'll know her when I see her. All suggestions welcome.

  10. And if you have a chance, got to Dana's facebook page--she is doing a wonderful thing on this Boston Anniversary.

  11. Good morning, all! Hank, your picture with Jonathan is MAGNIFICENT! *wipes coffee from keyboard*

    Joan, Mark, Lucy, and Ellen: Thanks for stopping by! I'm usually not much for remakes, but speculating on your dream cast is always fun.

    Kathy: I like your logic! :)

    Gerald: I love your suggestion--and Carrie Anne Moss? *swoons* Perfect. Hallie, James was right there with MM, and you're so right about Tom Cruise.

    Hank, thanks for having me--and yes, I know who you mean in the Chico's ads for Jane!

  12. I'm not anti-remake, per se, but some of them are just, well, blah.

    I'm bad at casting, too. I could go with McConaughey. He went dark-haired in Sahara to play Dirk Pitt. But, as someone said, blond is consistent with the book.

  13. Susan--"you had me at werewolf." You just made my day!

    Mary, I have a hard time warming up with "casting," and I confess I rely on IMDB a lot!

    Thanks for the Facebook mention, Hank!

  14. Why why why would you want to remake The Maltese Falcon? Modern remakes just don't work. And don't you dare touch Nick or Nora Charles! William Powell and Myrna Loy forever!

  15. Rereading the post and comments, I realized I didn't even address the question posed. My excuse is that I posted my comments at 2 in the morning, and Dana distracted me with Paul Bettany and his picture. I just wanted to cast my vote for Kristen Bell as Mary O'Shaughnessy. I have really come to enjoy Bell's acting, and I think she's fantastic in House of Lies.

  16. Pat, I think Mr. G agrees with you! And Kathy, yeah, he's a great distraction. :)

  17. Sorry, can't see redoing the Maltese Falcon. Leave perfection alone.

  18. Matt Damon as Sam Spade, Natalie Dormer (Gsme of Thrones, The Tudors) as Brigid, Zac Efron as the kid, and Bill Murray as Gutman.

    It would have to be shot in black and white.

    But why remake it? ;)

  19. Have any remakes been good?

    I know--apropos of Jungle Red, The Women was pretty awful, even with Annette Bening.

    Carrie was bad. Hmm. What else? The Manchurian Candidate, not as good.

    What else?

  20. I liked the remake of Mildred Pierce, with Kate Winslet.

  21. Oh, and Little Women with Wynona Ryder — and both the Colin Firth AND the Kiera Knightly versions of Pride and Prejudice....

  22. Oh, yes, I liked the TV Mildred Pierce, too--but the old one was better, right?

    What else?

  23. Greg, does Natalie Dormer play Margaery? That could work! (But right, not that anyone should do it..)

  24. This thread is kind of funny, since John Houston's version of The Maltese Falcon is a remake itself. There was an earlier version in 1931 with Bebe Daniels and Ricardo Cortez in the main roles, so anything we came up with for a modern casting would be better than that one.

  25. Hi Dana!!!! Can't wait to read the new Fangborn!

    As for the Maltese Falcon, I can't even fantasy cast my own characters, but I'll go for anything with Paul Bettany in it. (Did someone say "obsessed?"

    Hmm, what do you think about Paul Bettany as Duncan? Even though Duncan isn't blond, I think something could be arranged....

  26. Just cannot bring myself to recast THE MALTESE FALCON, BUT.....

    If I could re-write History, I would cast Robert Culp and James Mason in RED DRAGON. Can you imagine, Mason with that voice, as Hannibal Lecter? I think the audience would have *crawled* out of the theater....

  27. Hi, Dana! Welcome to JRW! I can't wait to read your new Fangborn novel. I love the creative and original concept. So different from all the same-old, same-old vampire and werewolf stuff.

    I have to go with Greg Herren and Gerald So. Matt Damon would be good as Sam Spade, I think. He can do that "blond Satan," worldly-wise thing well. Natalie Dormer would make a great Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Though Hank and Jonathan probably have it all sewn up. Look at how perfect they are!


  28. I was going to say "can't be recast" until I saw Linda's suggestion of Natalie Dormer and I do agree with that.

    Hank, what is the triangular pin on your hat? I like it.

  29. Hank, Libby, and Greg: Mr. G and I have this conversation often
    because we get so frustrated with remakes of films that are already perfect--or so bad that who in their right mind would remake them! So we try to figure out how we could fix them by recasting, and sometimes we try our hand at "dream casting" too! :)

    David, you make a very good point!

    Will--that counts as a super-wiggins!

    Greg and Linda--all I can think of is Matt Damon in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Splendidly creepy!

    Deb, I say: ask Mr. Bettany!

    Susan, I liked "Little Women" too. I think the remake of "Ocean's 11" was far better than the original. I'm trying to decide if "Dangerous Liaisons" counts as a remake, as it was a play, then reinterpreted in the 1950s. But I ADORE that movie!

  30. Thank you, Darlene! It's a shoe clip and a feather.

    Aw, Linda...thank you. Jonathan was very into it. And that fur thing is one of those fuzzy animal hats that I cut the flaps off of. That's probably what they did in the movie, too, right?

    Are the new James Bonds remakes? Or did they just re-make James? Would Daniel Craig be a good Sam Spade?

    ANd I think of Nick and Nora every time I hear the ice clink in a martini shaker.

  31. And the winner from yesterday of the Hank book of her choice is CATE NOBLE!

    Cate, email me at h ryan at whdh dot com with your address! (And your chioce of THE OTHER WOMAN, THE WRONG GIRL, or an arc of TRUTH BE TOLD!)

  32. Hank,

    Since running out of Ian Fleming novels, the Bond movie franchise has recycled parts of his books and short stories in each new movie in addition to re-casting Bond.

    I think Craig would make a fine Spade, too.

  33. Yeah, Gerald..I can really picture it! Now, who for Brigid? Someone small, and pointy.

  34. Darlene, I like the idea of Natalie Dormer, too!

    Hank and Gerald: I suggested Daniel Craig to Mr. G as well, right off. I suggest him for a lot of things. :) I like the recent Bond remakes an awful lot. If we can't have Sean Connery.

    And Hank, you know our cats come running when they hear the cocktail shaker? Not because we give them gin; because it means we're both in the kitchen and I'll throw them ice chips to chase.

  35. Oh, that's hilarious, Dana! I LOVE that!

  36. Hank, how dare you post a brilliant blog with the brilliant Dana Cameron, topped with a brilliant question, while I am trying to write something brilliant! I had to stop writing because all I could see in my mind was that picture of you and Jonathan as Sam Spade and Mary O'Shaughnessy—where Jonathan looks remarkably like Steve!

    Signing off to find that program that will shut off everything except the thing I'm working on. Oh, but is that wise? What if something happens and I don't know about it? xoxoxoxo

  37. Reine, LOL, and thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the distraction. Now back to work! :-D

  38. Yay for a new Dana novel!

    I can't imagine anyone else in The Maltese Falcon, except maybe Hank and Jonathan -- you look fabulous! And now I need to brainstorm about who should play Jane Ryland...

    (No need to enter me in the drawing, as I'm getting the book for my Kindle.)

  39. Oh, Reine, we would let you know. But we should be writing, too..

    And thank you Gigi, much appreciated! I am now drawn to Dana's Mary Elizabeth Winstead --do you think she could appear in BOTH movies? xoo

  40. I love this thread! I am embarrassed to say that I have never seen The Maltese Falcon though I love classic movies. My favorites were the musicals. I can still sing every song from every Rogers and Hammerstein musical. I was the only college student with a poster of Fred and Ginger on my wall. I would want Olivia de Havilland to play me in a movie of my life even though I'm not nearly that glamorous. Forget Kevin Costner, my favorite is the old Robin Hood with Olivia and Errol Flynn. I'm going to be "dream casting" in my head for the rest of the week.

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. Melodie, I am swooning! Can't wait til we get together in person--I know all the songs, too! SOME ENCHANTED EVENING...

    And I'd like Myrna Loy to play me. I mean hey, why not?

    And okay, I always pictured Jake as Gregory Peck. Just saying.

  43. I'm don't usually try to cast movies. I get so caught up in them that I forget the characters are actors. About Jane Ryland, I know you are really busy, Hank, but why don't you make some time to play the part just the way it ought to be played.

  44. Hey, Gigi--thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy PACK OF STRAYS!

    Hank, I think we *could* share Mr. Bettany and Ms. Winstead for both our movies, don't you? :)

    Melodie: Errol Flynn = ooooh! And did someone say Gregory Peck? I was thinking of his character when I wrote Gerry and Claudia's lawyer (vampire) dad in "Finals!"

    StorytellerMary, thank you for stopping by!

    Thank you all--this has been terrific fun! Thanks to the Reds for hosting me!

    And...drumroll...Congratulations to Gerald So! You've won a copy of PACK OF STRAYS! Please drop a line with your mailing address to dana at danacameron dot com and I'll send it off directly!