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"A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" film remake

You have the power to decide the cast.

Johnny Nolan (34 when he dies)

Katie Nolan (34 by end of story)

Sissy (slightly older then Katie by end of story

Francie (16 or 17 by end of story)

Neeley (15 or 16 by end of story)

McShane (50)

by Dellareply 5409/04/2013

Della, you're old. Most of these young'uns have never seen this movie. But bless your heart for thinking of it.

I would cast it, but I don't know anything about how to cast people. Sorry.

by Dellareply 106/21/2012

Christina Hendricks for good-time Sissy.

by Dellareply 206/21/2012

Hi r1 and r2.

Yeah, r1, I'm at the age when I've seen more yesterdays then a I will tomorrows.

Anyway, ATGIB is my, by far, favorite work of pop fiction. I re-read it every five or ten years. It still reads like the first time I ever read it.

Betty Smith set a standard that dictates why I'll never write a book, although my life could be the stuff of another ATGIB-like story. Unless I could write something as good as she did, fuhgeddaboutit.

I envision Johnny Nolan not as a pretty boy, but as ruggedly handsome, lovable, pitiful, alcoholic.

Too bad Josh Hartnett is too old and he can't act.

The Role of Johnny Nolan is perfect Golden Globes/AA bait- You're an Irish-American handsome, talented, tragic alcoholic who dies young.

by Dellareply 306/21/2012

I finally read that book last winter, Della, after knowing about it forever as well as the movie from it with Joan Blondell … and I have to tell you, that book was b-o-r-i-n-g in my opinion.

I can't see what all the hoopla was about for Betty Smith's '40s novel about turn-of-the-century New York.

Why do you love this book so, and why do you think it was so popular in wartime?

My theory is Americans were war-weary and it took their mind off more serious matters, like getting the dreaded knock on the door with two military men telling you your loved one was killed in action or worse, MIA.

by Dellareply 406/21/2012

I don't know why I love it so, r4, but I do.

Anna Quindlen wrote an excellent introduction to an edition that came out about 10 years ago.

I'll try to link it.

by Dellareply 506/21/2012

I haven't seen the original film in some time, but recall the casting was perfect.

Some remake ideas:

Mireille Enos as Katie

Colin Farrell as Jimmy

I like the idea of Hendricks as Sissy

by Dellareply 606/21/2012

Why oh why does that perfect movie need to be remade?

by Dellareply 706/21/2012

I always like the original. I think if it was remade, michelle smith would be great

by Dellareply 806/21/2012

I see a cleaned up, slimmed down Phillip Seymour Hoffman as McShane.

by Dellareply 906/21/2012

The parents should be heartbreakingly young, as most parents were in those days.

Colin Farrell is actully too old, isn't he forty by now?

But definitely Michelle Williams as the mother. She's young enough, and loves an Oscar-bait role!

by Dellareply 1006/21/2012

Loved the book and the original movie, but I'm not sure modern audiences could relate to this story in a mainstream re-make. The grinding poverty (literal starvation) and the work ethic of those scrappy children is something that's completely alien to us in 2012. I think it would seem...I don't know....cartoonish in a way, like watching "The Little Rascals."

by Dellareply 1106/21/2012

Jessica Chastain as Katie

Christina Hendricks as Cissy

by Dellareply 1206/21/2012

So weird, I always assumed ATGIB was about blacks.

by Dellareply 1306/21/2012

What's the message of the story? What does it leave the reader thinking?

There was no take-away that I could discern.

It's popularity escapes me.

by Dellareply 1406/21/2012

I have not read the book in years, but the part that has always stuck with me is when somebody complains that the narrator just holds her cup of coffee until it is cool and then throws it out. The mother explains that she feels her daughter should have at least one small thing in her life that she is permitted to waste.

by Dellareply 1506/21/2012

The message is in the title: that even in a cement city pavement, a beautiful young tree can grow and survive.

by Dellareply 1606/21/2012

^^ And that message is profound and uplifting? To me, it isn't.

by Dellareply 1706/21/2012

^^Then you have a heart made of cement city pavement.

by Dellareply 1806/21/2012

^^ I'll make a movie about a full cat box and then I'll clean it out.

The pathos will be overwhelming -- Oscar bait!

I am sure you'll love my uplifting movie.

Gosh, you must be pretty simple.

by Dellareply 1906/21/2012

Hey @datalounge. Really? You couldn't cast even ONE actor of color so I could feel good about my kid watching this remake? NOT ONE?

by Dellareply 2006/21/2012

Like GWTW, it was the little things that made the book so memorable -- Katie was German, not Irish, and in the book, her mother lived with the family until she died. One night, Francie was sitting up with her grandmother, who told her that no one immigrates to America for themselves, but for their children. The people who came before 1980 or thereabouts knew that they would not get very far, but their children would, as they became (sometimes) educated but (mainly) American.

by Dellareply 2106/21/2012

Johnny Nolan (34 when he dies) - James McAvoy

Katie Nolan (34 by end of story) - Michelle Williams

Sissy (slightly older then Katie by end of story - Samantha Morton

Francie (16 or 17 by end of story) - Hailee Steinfeld or Willow Shields

Neeley (15 or 16 by end of story) - Max Records

McShane (50) - John Hawkes

by Dellareply 2206/21/2012

r21 I think you mean 1880, not 1980.

by Dellareply 2306/21/2012

When they made the movie, the cast looked like 34 year olds, etc, would look then, but now I would think the actors cast would have be ten years older than the original ages to take into account that most people age better now.

by Dellareply 2406/22/2012

Lily Rabe for Katie.

Love what R2 stated as well.

No clue for anyone else.

by Dellareply 2506/22/2012

Is a remake really necessary? The original is classic. Let's leave it alone.

by Dellareply 2606/22/2012

"Necessary" is a strong word, but I would like to see a TV miniseries version where they could take the time to tell the story.

by Dellareply 2706/22/2012

Excellent idea, r27.

by Dellareply 2806/23/2012

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of the quintessentially American novels, and I have long entertained the possibility of a remake. For one thing, there are so many gripping scenes that were left out of the 1945 film. Doubtless, the censors would have had a field day, but today these scenes, such as Joanna and her baby, can be brought to the big screen. It is a poignant, gripping, very tactile work. It is hard to fathom how anyone could find it boring. People that are easily bored, very often lack the ability to stimulate their own intellect, or unfortunately...the lack of it. It is considered one of the great novels of the twentieth century, and is currently enjoying something of a renaissance. Della, your instinct is correct and many teenagers have found the tree to be quite the read. The old black and white is wonderful, but limited. A first class, sensitive remake should be in the offing.

by Dellareply 2907/13/2012

Thanks r29.

You're a great writer. Get going on that screenplay.

by Dellareply 3007/13/2012

Thanks ,r29.

You're an excellent writer.

Get to work on that screenplay.

by Dellareply 3107/13/2012

I love the novel and loved Kazan's 1945 film--James Dunn's heartbreaking Johnny won a deserved Oscar. Blondell and McGuire were never better, and Peggy Ann Garner also deserved her "juvenile" Oscar. The stage musical had some lovely songs, but I gather it was shaped more as a vehicle for Shirley Booth's exuberant Aunt Cissy.

There was a TV remake with Diane Baker and Cliff Robertson--not nearly as good.

I still cry whenever I watch the graduation scene with the flowers.

I don't want or need a remake.

The novel isn't "great literature" (whatever that means), but moving and engrossing. It is a wonderful read and has an immense heart.

by Dellareply 3207/13/2012

There was a pretty good tv remake in 1974 with a solid cast: Cliff Robertson, Diane Baker, James Olson, Nancy Malon, Anne Seymour, Liam Dunn, Michael-James Wixted and Pamelyn Ferdin.

by Dellareply 3307/13/2012

While the movie was excellent I would like to see a miniseries. The miniseries could be on a cable channel and tell the story that we see in the book. Anyone who finds the book "boring" doesn't know a good book when he/she reads it. The book is a true classic that really gets into the poverty and struggles of the working class/lower class of that time. You also understand every character, even minor ones, and care about most of them.

by Dellareply 3407/14/2012

Justin timberlake as johnny nolan. He can sing and dance, has blonde curly hair, can act, and is the right age!

by Dellareply 3507/03/2013

While reading the book I thought of Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Johnny. I didn't see JRM as Johnny since the latter is supposed to be tall and blonde if I recall correctly.

But JRM as an Irish Johnny who sings, can't hold down a job, support his family and a hopeless alcoholic? I can see JRM doing the job.

by Dellareply 3607/03/2013

I love the book--not high literature, but popular/populist literature of the best kind--and the sentiment is genuine, not forced or cynically orchestrated. It's a book a tween or teen can get lost in for hours at a time. I watched the Kazan film of it on TCM the other night (presumably so did others, hence the thread). I only planned on watching the first ten minutes or so, but I think it's one of those movies for me that, if I tune in at any point, I am hooked until the end (like "Casablanca," "All About Eve," "Hello, Dolly," "Auntie Mame," "Psycho," "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and a few others). I think the film is as close to a perfect adaptation of a kind of "epic," "stuffed" novel as any I can think of. While it leaves out some of the grittier episodes (the children finding Sissy's box of condoms and thinking they are balloons, Francie getting molested in the hallway, and the whole second part of the novel when she goes to college, loses her virginity, and so forth--less interesting anyway), it does manage to extract what makes the novel the novel and fit it into a dramatically satisfying form. The performances are matchless--as others have said, both James Dunn and Peggy Ann Garner deserving the Oscars. Why Blondell didn't get a nomination probably has as much to do with category issues--she is starred in what was essentially a vivid supporting role. So, she would have had to beat the other leading nominees (Crawford won--the others were Bergman for playing a nun, Greer Garson for playing a servant who marries well, Jennifer Jones as an amnesiac, and Gene Tierney for her cheekbones and playing a psychopath) or in the supporting, Anne Revere was Liz Taylor's mother, Angela Lansbury as the tragic Sybil Vane, and Ann Blyth and Eve Arden in Mildred Pierce. Both Revere and Lansbury were recent nominees and so it was probably viewed as Revere's year (and a way to honor a very popular film), since Lansbury was probably seen as new and having many more opportunities (in reality, only one more nomination). Blyth and Arden may have canceled each other out.

What is the head-scratcher to me is why the film itself didn't get a Best Picture nomination--yes, "The Lost Weekend" (which doesn't hold up well) was a serious "problem" film, considered daring for its time, and "Mildred Pierce" a great high-budget noir, and "Spellbound" innovative in its Dali-influenced dream sequences--but "Anchors Aweigh," really? (and Gene Kelly a Best Actor nomination? really really?) "The Bells of St. Mary's," a high-class sequel to the previous year's winner, with Ingrid filling in for Barry Fitzgerald, McCarey doing his usual excellent work, if you can stomach the cutesy version of Catholicsm. I would picked "Tree" over any of the last three (and over "Weekend").

I know the musical has been done as a concert in recent years in NYC, and it was not very successful in its original Broadway run, in part because Shirley Booth starred as Sissy and the balance of the show's focus tipped the wrong way. I have the CD and don't listen to it often, but it does have some nice songs. It may be that it just doesn't work well as a stage show.

I have no desire for a film remake--the Nolans lived in the black and white and gray shadings Kazan and his team found. And I, like many others, cry like a little girl when Francie gets the flowers at graduation.

by Dellareply 3707/03/2013

Johnny Nolan Ben Foster

Katie Nolan Kelly MacDonald

Sissy Christina Hendricks

Francie Kiernan Shipka

Neeley Jackson Pace

McShane Mark Rylance

by Dellareply 3807/03/2013

IMHO Jimmy and Katie should be played by actors who are under thirty. Seeing people in their twenties cope with poverty, alcoholism, and parenthood would not only be accurate, it'd make the characters much more sympathetic. Yes, they behave very badly at times in the story, but they were young and ignorant and trying to cope with some pretty terrible things.

Imagine seeing Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone, in her mid twenties, trying to decide which of her kids to pull out of school.

by Dellareply 3907/03/2013

Great post, r39.

by Dellareply 4007/06/2013

I almost hate to write this but I did not care for the casting in the original movie.

Betty White describes Katie is as vivacious and pretty, albeit, while surviving the grim business poverty. Mcguire couldn't have been more sour and dour looking; she totally lacked spark.

Dunn looked entirely to old and not handsome enough to be the dashing, young, alcoholic Johnny Nolan.

I was disappointed with the film.

by Dellareply 4108/11/2013

Betty Smith, jerk.

by Dellareply 4208/11/2013

I stand corrected, sweetheart.

by Dellareply 4308/11/2013

The story was heartbreaking. I cried when those neighborhood women threw rocks at the unwed mom and her baby. One rock hits the baby on the head and it starts bleeding all over the pram.

by Dellareply 4408/11/2013

Those fucking cunts.

by Dellareply 4508/11/2013


by Dellareply 4608/28/2013

Michael Pitt for Johnny Nolan

by Dellareply 4708/28/2013

I'm available.

by Dellareply 4808/28/2013

Ryan Gosling as Johnny Nolan (he essentially already played a variation in Blue Valentine). He already has the Brooklyn accent.

by Dellareply 4909/04/2013

Russell Crowe as McShane in a small "prestige" appearance, kinda like the appearance Vanessa Redgrave made in the first "Mission Impossible" film.

by Dellareply 5009/04/2013

I like it, Della.

by Dellareply 5109/04/2013

It always made me sad that Annie Laurie wouldn't be a Nolan and would never know her 'papa'.

by Dellareply 5209/04/2013

I agree, r52.

by Dellareply 5309/04/2013

I cry buckets at the graduation scene.

by Dellareply 5409/04/2013
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