Hard Boiled Hobbit

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This video re-awakened one of my alternate history fantasies:  Tolkien publishes the Lord of the Rings in the Thirties to immediate acclaim.  The film rights are bought by Hollywood with the condition that Tolkien has script approval.  Tolkien relunctantly travels to Hollywood during the filming where an epic, and comedic, struggle ensues as Middle Earth and the Golden Age of Hollywood come into mortal combat. 

Tolkien actually received a serious film proposal in 1957.  Although nothing came of it, his comments about it are instructive, some of which are set forth here

Hollywood of the Thirties could do fantasy well, the Wizard of OZ is a prime example, but I doubt if the budgets and time constraints of the day could have done justice to the theme, but it would have been fun watching them try.  Naturally, Cecil B. Demille would have been called on to direct, with a very youg Orson Welles, scheming, along with most of the rest of Hollywood, to be a part of the biggest picture of 1938!   Suggestions as to casting are welcome in the comboxes.

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  1. Inspired Joe. Where Rooney goes Judy Garland would probably follow. I think she would have made an intriguing Eowyn.

  2. Lavish Cinemascope musical with stereophonic sound (and freely ignoring studio contracts):
    Fred Astaire as Frodo
    Vera-Ellen as Galadriel
    Basil Rathbone as Saruman
    Michael Rennie as Aragorn
    Cyd Charisse as Arwen
    Yul Brynner as Elrond
    Peter Lorre still Sméagol/Gollum (who else?)
    Oscar Levant as Samwise
    Bing Crosby as Gandalf
    I’ll stop now.

  3. Suz, Basil Rathbone is just who I was thinking about as Saruman! Peter Lorre as Smeagol/Gollum is a role he was born for, but alas too soon! Jay, Lionel Barrymore, with his unforgettable voice, would have been an astounding Gandalf. Clark Gable as Boromir is brilliant! He usually sided with the angels in his films, but he also projected an image that said that he would be at home with the other team also.

  4. Any of those people who have traded their last ounce of dignity to appear on one of the dysfunctional has-been celebrity reality shows would make for an effective casting of Gollum.

    Imagine the Duke as Frodo. Even with the script the same it would be like a whole other story.

  5. Rick that would be saved for the sequel directed by John Ford. In the far reaches of Rohan, Wayne and his intrepid frontier Riders battle the Mescalero Orcs!

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