Monday, September 13, 2010

Casting Call: Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington

Well, I meant to post this over a week ago, shortly after my review of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss…but life has a way of disrupting the best-laid plans, don’t you know? *g* Since so much time has passed, this isn’t going to be quite as comprehensive a “Casting Call” post as my first for Cara Putman’s Stars in the Night. But since these casting ideas have been knocking around in my head ever since I read Victory Heights, I just had to make sure I shared them. As a refresher, here’s a bit about the novel with a link to my review.

The Second World War has stolen Rosalie’s fiancĂ© from her. But rather than wallow, Rosalie throws herself into her work at the local Boeing plant, shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy. A local reporter dubs her “Seattle’s Own Rosie the Riveter,” and her story lends inspiration to women across the country. While Rosalie’s strong arms can bear the weight of this new responsibility, her heart cannot handle the intense feelings that begin to surface for Kenny, the handsome reporter. Fear of a second heartbreak is a powerful opponent…but will it claim victory over love?

**Here’s a link to my review of the novel.**

Barbara Stanwyck as Rosalie
Rosalie Madison, played by Barbara Stanwyck: You know those fabulous “Rosie the Riveter” posters from World War II? Well, it’s no coincidence I’m sure that Rosalie is quite similar to that image which inspired countless women to leave their homes and join the war effort. However, if Victory Heights was going to be made into a film (and I do so wish it would, I think it would be perfect – Hallmark, are you listening? *g*), I was stymied as to what actress could represent Rosalie’s combination of strength and vulnerability. I finally settled on Barbara Stanwyck. She’s not only a class act, but she’s got an all-American, girl-next-door kind of look that would be perfect for this story. As to whether or not Stanwyck is the best actress to portray Rosalie’s strength and vulnerability on-screen – I must refer you to films like Annie Oakley, Ball of Fire, The Lady Eve, and East Side, West Side – no one can balance spunk, sass, and vulnerability like Ms. Stanwyck!

John Payne as Kenny
Kenny Davenport, played by John Payne: I have a very definite image of on-screen reporters during the World War II time period – fast-talking, fedora pulled low over the forehead, always wearing a suit. It’s hard for me to put the ideal description that resides in my head into words, but when an actor’s got that “it” quality, I know they’d be perfect for the role. In the case of Kenny, the reporter who struggles with his career aspirations and serving his country, I kept coming back to John Payne as being the perfect actor. Kenny is an absolute sweetheart, kind, handsome, and with a great sense of humor, all qualities that Payne embodies in many of his classic Hollywood films (plus, I think he’d have great on-screen chemistry with Stanwyck – the sparks would fly!). Personality-wise, I think Kenny’s character is best represented best by Payne’s role in Miracle on 34th Street, as well as a few of his turns in musicals, believe it or not (thinking Springtime in the Rockies or Hello Frisco, Hello to name a few).

Peter Lawford as Nick
Nick, played by Peter Lawford: Nick is Kenny’s close friend, and described as very handsome, a charismatic ladies’ man. And when I think charismatic ladies’ man, Peter Lawford is one of the first actors from classic Hollywood that comes to mind. Nick worked overseas for a contract ambulance service, and when he was severely wounded in the leg he was sent home with no benefits, since he didn’t work through the Army (even though he served on the front lines). His character comes across as almost overly suave and compelling as a way for him to mask his emotional and physical wounds. Since Lawford was British, and possessed this almost aristocratic bearing, it seems like he played many roles where he comes from a rarified, privileged background and he has to work to overcome the bias that comes as a result of that. For some good examples see his appearances in films like Good News, Little Women, or Easter Parade.

Veronica Lake as Lanie
Lanie, played by Veronica Lake: Lanie was an interesting character to cast. She’s described as a head-turning, gorgeous blonde who rather improbably works at the Boeing aircraft plant with Rosalie. She’s also a singer, which is how she meets Nick. Half the time Lanie seems incredibly sweet and nice, and the other half of the time I wanted to smack her upside the head for being, well, a snake in the grass. Who better to play a woman of such contradictions than the lovely Veronica Lake, renowned femme fatale of the silver screen? Now in the Lake films I’ve seen, I’d say I end up liking her more than Lanie (*g*) – my favorite role of hers is in the film noir classic The Blue Dahlia (which really, REALLY needs to come out on DVD already!). This picture is from Lake’s appearance in the military-themed drama So Proudly We Hail!, and I thought it was wildly appropriate given that she looks like she could be working a shift at the Boeing factory.

Jane Powell as Birdie
Birdie, played by Jane Powell: Birdie is Rosalie’s best friend, and the two decided to room together when Birdie got work at the plant after her husband was deployed overseas. Birdie’s another girl next door, all-American type, extremely kind but with a backbone of steel. Jane Powell seems perfect for the part. If you’re familiar with Powell’s work, you can probably guess the role that inspired my choice – yep, I’m thinking of her turn in the classic Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Powell’s turn in that film embodies her balance of delicate beauty, spunk, and strength.

Lana Turner as Lana :)
Lana Turner, played by Lana Turner of course! I cast Lana Turner in my first Casting Call post, but this time around she gets to play herself so of course I had to include her. Turner plays a critical role in Rosalie and Kenny’s “meet cute” and the subsequent direction of their relationship. Victory Heights takes place in Turner’s pre-blonde days – she was a stunner whether brunette or blonde, no?

Dean Jagger as Rev. Davenport
Reverend Davenport, played by Dean Jagger: Just in case you don’t recognize Dean Jagger’s name, I have two words for you: White Christmas. Yes, Jagger is the name of that guy who plays Major General Thomas F. Waverly, who never fails to bring tears to my eyes every time I watch White Christmas. I think he’s perfectly suited to play Reverend Davenport, Kenny’s father, who is sent stateside when he’s wounded overseas and ends up losing a leg. Jagger’s turn in White Christmas is the perfect embodiment of Reverend Davenport’s patience and kindness, plus I think he could do a decent job passing for John Payne’s father in the looks department! *wink* Note on the photo: I'm not sure what film this still is from, but since Jagger is in uniform I had to use it to illustrate this post!
The world of Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington, is populated with many more characters that need to be “cast,” but this post represents most of the characters that made the biggest impression on my mind when I read the book. These characters just begged to be brought to life by some classic Hollywood legends. If you haven’t read the book, I hope you get the chance, and if you have, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my casting call!
And just for fun, here's a photo of John Payne from Miracle on 34th Street - his stance in this photo really "fits" the character of Kenny in my opinion! :)

Kenny interrogating Santa :)


Heidenkind said...

I love these casting call posts!

Tales of Whimsy said...

What a cool array of actors :) these list always make me want to have a vintage movie fest.

Unknown said...

@heidenkind - Thank you, so glad you enjoy reading them! Since I'm on a WW2-era reading kick, I've been having a lot of fun trying to "cast" the books with actors and actresses who actually lived during the time...trying a different twist on some of the book casting posts I've seen on the web. :)

@Juju - That's awesome, that's half my hope - that posts like these will inspire people to check out awesome classic movies. The other half of my hope is that people will be further inspired to read the books. :)

Tricia Goyer said...

I love, love, love this! You nailed them!!!

Cindy at The Clever Container Co. said...

Well done. How about today's actors? Who would you cast?

Unknown said...

@Tricia - So glad you enjoyed this post, I had a ton of fun putting it together!

@Cindy - Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Not sure about which contemporary characters I'd cast in these roles...I'll have to mull that one over!