“In the 20s, you were a face. And that was enough. In the ‘30s, you also had to be a voice. And your voice had to match your face, if you can imagine that. Jimmy Cagney and Eddie Robinson had voices that were as important as the characters they played. You knew what you were getting even before you paid for the ticket.” - Joan Blondell
It’s six in the morning, and Steve is heading out on a run when he nearly trips over a bouquet of sunflowers on the front steps of his brownstone.
For a second paranoia takes over, and he kicks the flowers a little, waiting for them to explode. They don’t. They also came with a card, which he picks up. The front of the card has a tasteful picture of the Brooklyn bridge at sunset. It’s very nice and sedate, like the kind of card you would buy to give to your boss. On the inside someone has written a short message in big, shaky block letters.
Despite being out of the 20th century for a few years, Steve still has the tongue of the 40’s when he’s not at the office. The slang is for the most part comprehensible, but sometimes it’s hard to put together what he’s exactly saying. Especially when he first joined the modern world, and it was at full force in a conversation if he could help it or not.
“Jimmy Cagney was the most dynamic man who ever appeared on the screen. He should have won five Oscars, he was so fabulous. He stimulated me to such an extent. I must say that I didn’t have to act very much; I just had to react to him because he was so powerful.”
So. Since it is the hiatus, and I am bored, I decided to recast Gotham 30s/40s style.
Jim Gordon - Henry Fonda. Jim was a sod to case 40s style. He’s not an easy-going leading man like Cary Grant, but he’s not Humphrey Bogart either. Henry Fonda often played heroes, but with an edge of anger and impatience. I thought he worked for Jim.
Harvey Bullock - Spencer Tracy. Rumpled, Irish and red-headed. Spencer Tracy’s characters might be hot-tempered, maybe cynical, but ultimately compassionate, with an eye to human frailty. Seemed right for Harve.
Oswald Cobblepot- Peter Lorre. Peter Lorre’s villains were never straightforward. They usually had a charm and sympathy to them that made it very hard to peel your eyes from him when he was onscreen. Coupled with his physical diminutiveness and foreign ‘otherness’ - he usually stole the show from the hero. The pic is of Joel Cairo who - for reasons discussed elsewhere - seemed especially appropriate.
Edward Nygma - James Stewart. If this had been a 50s set, then I’d have gone for Anthony Perkins, who is CMS’s double, and also played Norman Bates - who has similar characterisation to Ed, in many ways. However, it’s the 40s here - and so he’s Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy Stewart is often gawky and shy in his earlier roles - but could bring a more frightening edge when required (Vertigo, Rope). Plus, the heartbreak of watching sweet James Stewart get broken like Ed would be awful.
Barbara Kean - Vivien Leigh. I did look for a blonde actress for a superficial resemblance - but couldn’t find anyone of that era with the kind of edge required. There’s Barbara Stanwyck - but her characters were usually much more together and calculating than Babs. So - I went for Vivien Leigh, who has the depth needed to be playful, but unhappy; charming, but unstable; violent, but vulnerable. In terms of resemblance, there’s maybe something at the eyes and jawline that isn’t too far off.
Jerome Valeska - James Cagney. Jerome reminded me massively of Jimmy Cagney, especially in the scenes in Galavan’s penthouse, in terms of manner and physical appearance. He’s funny, and charismatic - but frighteningly volative and violent. There’s also a sense that his character was badly let down by his upbringing - which you get in films like The Public Enemy.
Lee Thompkins - Ava Gardner. There’s nothing terribly deep here, if I’m honest - I’d need to learn more about Lee from the show to choose on that basis, and the ‘angel at the hearth’ qualities she has are too common in actresses of this era to pick one. However, Morena Baccarin is the living image of Ava Gardner. The similarity is striking - much like CMS and Anthony Perkins.