The Philadelphia Story, one of filmdom’s all-time greats starring Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart, aired again on Turner Classic Movies the other night. We love to watch this film again and again, always getting something new out of it.
One thing we love to do while watching it is to ponder whom we’d cast if we tried to do a remake today. Of course, our hypothetical remake would be a shot-for-shot duplicate, since two of the original’s many strengths are its excellent dialogue (which adheres closely to the original Broadway play), and how the whole thing was adapted to the screen without feeling too stagey. Herewith, then, are my picks for the leading roles:
- As Tracy Lord (Katherine Hepburn’s role), Julia Stiles. Even more beautiful, dynamic, and intelligent than young Kate was, Ms. Stiles’ brilliance shines through her eyes in everything she has done. I hope she has a decent part in The Bourne Ultimatum, which I haven’t seen yet, because Nicky Parsons is one of the best additions the filmmakers made to the original books.
- As C. K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant’s role), Freddy Prinze Jr. He’s handsome, dashing, and capable of holding his own in the less “flashy” part. Plus he and Julia have worked together before (in 2000’s Down to You), and have great romantic chemistry.
- As Macaulay Connor (Jimmy Stewart’s role), I’m thinking Shia LeBeouf. Sure, he’s a tad young, and all the hot shit in Hollywood these days (and thus impossible to book), but I think he has the range to pull it off. And in the handsomeness category, he would give Freddy a run for his money.
- As Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussie’s role), Mandy Moore. She has the wit for what I think is a plum role. Casting her, though, likely means choosing someone a bit older than Shia.
- Last, as Dinah Lord (Virginia Weidler’s role), well, I hesitate to say Abigail Breslin. She’s the right age, and certainly has the precocious nature the role requires, but she’s almost too precocious. There’s something almost creepy about that kid and her meteoric rise to fame. Virginia Weidler was more believable, and more charming. So let’s just say this role will go to the next Abigail Breslin, whomever Hollywood anoints that to be.