Who Would You Cast in the Movie?

The phone rings. It’s Hollywood calling. They want to bring an Emilie Loring novel to the silver screen for the first time, and as an Emilie Loring expert, you’re asked to weigh in on the cast. You can have any actors from any time periods. Who do you see in your  movie?

Here are some of my picks.

Leading ladies


Emilie Loring’s leading ladies are fresh, wholesome, and smart. Optimistic more than cynical, beautiful but not vain, neither pushovers nor clinging vines.

“You’re the kind that makes a man straighten his tie and a female slick her hair when you heave in sight.”  Here Comes the Sun!

I love Katharine Hepburn and Claudette Colbert, Julia Roberts and Reneé Zellweger, but I couldn’t find roles that were right for them. But Irene Dunne? She could play most of Emilie Loring’s leading-lady roles. Lovely, vivacious, comedic, romantic, and with plenty of brains inside her pretty head. Watch “My Favorite Wife,” and you’ll see what I mean.

irene dunne 2
Irene Dunne as Nancy Caswell, Prue Schuyler, Brooke Reyburn, Kay Chesney, Debby Randall…

Leading men

Starring in High of Heart, Give Me One Summer, Across the Years, Today Is Yours and Where Beauty Dwells:


Unselfconsciously handsome, purposeful and decisive, these men are controlled but capable of passion, honorable and steady, good sports with a sense of humor.

Cary Grant could play Mac Cameron in Where Beauty Dwells (“Lady, you are in a fix.”), but he is one of the few with the presence to portray stalwart Michael Farr in We Ride the Gale!

My all-purpose leading man for an Emilie Loring story, though, is Gregory Peck. (Think “Roman Holiday.”) His voice, carriage, and manner are perfect. His hair even has a “rebellious kink” above the ears.

No use deceiving herself. She had definitely decided on a spinster career when along came a man with tender eyes and a heart-warming laugh and she had fallen at his feet, figuratively speaking.  Love Came Laughing By

gregory peck in a suit
Gregory Peck as Vance Tyler, Scott Mallory, Bruce Harcourt, Craig Lamont, Myles Jaffray…

The vixen–and her mother


Blonde, sultry and scheming are the requirements for Emilie Loring’s bad girls. I’m sure there are more candidates, but once I found Lana Turner–and Agnes Moorhead for her mother–I was satisfied.

The childhood buddy–her brother or the guy next door


How good looking he was!  He radiated a sort of mischievous gusto, as if life were an amusing show in which he was cast for the part of comedian.  Fair Tomorrow

“Keep on feeling secure with Billy and me. We’ll stand guard over the Sleeping Beauty till her Prince Charming arrives.”  Here Comes the Sun!

The nice guy she turns down


These could have been the leading men–if they weren’t up against our heroes. Not a thing wrong with them (once Ned has his comeuppance), but they aren’t the one.

The bad-boy charmer


If only they had better characters. These men are handsome but vain, charming but manipulative, and ambitious for themselves alone. Without the smirk, they might have been leading-man material.

Her mom and dad

Her parents were charming, with an up to the minute knowledge of world happenings, politics, books, music, art and sports.  They had hosts of friends.  They were so good-looking that eyes turned to gaze at them as they passed… As Long As I Live

The wise, older woman

maggie smith as mrs. shaw
Maggie Smith as Sally Shaw, “As Long As I Live”

Mrs. Shaw was a woman who had known what she wanted and had gone after it through the years.

“Things will straighten out. Things have a marvelous, unbelievable way of straightening out.” As Long As I Live

And who plays Emilie Loring when her biography, Happy Landings, comes to the silver screen?

The answer to that is always Meryl Streep, right? She’s a good fit here–smart, confident, nuanced, doesn’t say all that she thinks. Julie Andrews brings endless optimism,  effervescent humor, and unflappability. Roll them into one, add a theatrical background, approachability, and double-down on a youthful outlook, and you get Angela Lansbury, who also looks just a wee bit like our author.


I’d pay good money to see these movies!

But you got the phone call. Who would you cast? And which book would you choose?

21 thoughts on “Who Would You Cast in the Movie?

  1. I think I would substitute Elizabeth Taylor for Janet Gaynor in “Where Beauty Dwells,” since Diane Vernon had black hair. But Janet Gaynor would be perfect as Nancy Barton in “Keepers of the Faith” because Nan did have red hair. And I’m with you, Gregory Peck could be any of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post is fun to come back to. Thoughts flit through my head during the week:
    1. A young beautiful Elizabeth Taylor needs to be in here somewhere. (Father of Bride was just on TCM) I think Deb Randall (Beckoning Trails) had black hair like ET did.
    2. Van Johnson would be great as hero’s side kick, like Jed in Uncharted Seas. Isn’t the friend Jed also in With Banners?
    3. I’ve been thinking of William Holden as well. He’s a bit cynical usually for a EL hero. Maybe he should be an indolent rival, like Alec Pride (Gay Courage) or the guy with the boat in Lighted Windows (Alaska story).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All good calls. I adored Elizabeth Taylor as a child because of “National Velvet.” Doesn’t Wendy Adair have dark hair, too? Emilie’s books were full of action and dialogue; it’s easy to imagine them as movies. How fun would it be to turn on Netflix and decide whether to watch “Gay Courage” or “We Ride the Gale!” today?


  3. I love old movies as much as I love EL. Your Hollywood picks were spot on! How about Loretta Young for any Emilie Loring leading lady – take your pick. And Robert Taylor. Ever see him in “Waterloo Bridge” with Vivien Leigh? I can envision him as Mac Cameron or Vance Trent – he checks all the boxes.

    I especially liked you selection of Doug McClure. Growing up I always watched “The Virginian”. I had a “thing” for Doug McClure. I haven’t thought of him in years. It was nice to remember…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I need to watch more early Loretta Young movies. “The Bishop’s Wife” and the Loretta Young Show biased me to think of her as a mother-type. I had a big crush on Trampas in “The Virginian!” but I’ve never seen “Waterloo Bridge.” I watched scenes from it on YouTube just now and vow to watch it in its entirety soon. Robert Taylor IS just right!


  4. A few more ideas came to mind:

    1. Cissy-Lou (“When Hearts are Light Again”) and Patricia Trask (Keepers of Faith): Teen-aged Shirley Temple. [See “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer” also starring Myrna Loy and Cary Grant–as the bachelor.] Maybe Andy Rooney qua Andy Hardy should be the boyfriends jealous of the older men she’s hanging out with.

    I just caught “Singing in the Rain” on TCM:
    1. Debbie Reynolds’ character is how I would picture Rose Grahame (“Solitary Horseman”)
    2. Donald O’Conner’s character seemed to be on target for Sam Reyburne (“With Banners”)
    3 Gene Kelly? I don’t know… Maybe Greg Merton (“There is Always Love”) or Mark Trent (WIth Banners)

    While we’re on “There is Always Love” how about Susan Hayward in a cartwheel hat for Linda Bourne…?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great idea! Would like to recommend Janet Munro (though she was British) for Melissa Barclay in Give Me One Summer, and Frances Dee or Brenda Marshall as Diane Vernon in Where Beauty Dwells. Still looking for a Nicholas Hoyt in WBD. Angela Lansbury is a perfect fit for EL.

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  6. When I went to the movies a lot and also saw them on TV I kept watching for one of Emilie’s stories to be portrayed, but, of course, there never was one even though her plots were much better than half of the movies that were made. I wonder if there is still hope that the BBC/PBS could make a Masterpiece Theater one of High of Heart. Britain has plenty of castles it could be filmed in.


  7. Hi, Patti! When I am asked in author interviews about which actor would play my characters, I am always stumped. I really like some of the ones you picked.


  8. Hi Patti, fun topic! As I’m less familiar with her characters, my thoughts went immediately to who would play Emilie in the story of her life. While I obviously never met her, I immediately thought of Julia Roberts and Judi Dench. My impression is that she was optimistic, widely engaged, bohemian, witty, idealistic and sparkly but grounded and very strong.

    I’m seeing Auntie Val, mom and family this weekend and this will be a fun discussion. I will ask them for descriptions, adjectives and actors who could play the various characters they knew.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could be there to hear that conversation! I like your characterization of Emilie—and Julia Roberts has the additional benefit of also being a brunette with copper/russet highlights. I’m going to spend some time thinking about who else might play the young Emilie… and then there’s Victor!


  9. definitely NOT: meryl streep, peter lawford, Katherine Hepburn, spencer tracy, Patrick Dempsey. YES: angel landsbury, cary grant, irene dunn, lana turner, myrna loy, etc. NOMINATE: Ann Sothern, Glenda Ferrell, Robert Montgomery, Dennis Morgan, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Walter Pigeon, William Powell, Warren William, Franchot Tone, and best ever Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh my gosh, this was a lovely post to read this morning. I love who you picked and I laughed at you picking Irene Dunne because of ‘Iris’ in The Holiday. Will go back and reread this later and start thinking about this when I read them. I am starting Uncharted Seas this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow! What a great effort you undertook to scour Hollywood’s ladies and men to play EL characters. I can see Irene Dunne as you say. Myrna Loy is a perfect EL lady too. Is there a better blonde vixen than Lana Turner. You even included contemporary actors. I mean Ryan Gosling, that’s pretty good to fit him in.

    Was Spencer Tracy ever “young”? Angela Landsbury should play EL…she’s already known as Jessica Fletcher, the mystery writer from New England. Excellent fit.

    Maggie Smith as the older wiser woman, especially in the grande dame days. Perfect! (The Downton folks wrote so well for her to seal this image.) An older Jane Wyman (think Falcon Crest) could do such a role as well with a bit of malevolence.

    A spirited red-head is needed for Keepers of the Faith. Kate Hepburn or Maureen O’Hara could fit that.

    Jack Black would be good as a buddy, pal character. He’s so likable. I’ve pictured Billy Jaffrey in Here Comes the Sun as being a bit stout like him. Tubby Grant in Lighted Windows?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have you to thank for this post. Our previous conversation got me started. Good call, to recruit Jack Black. I wanted to cast someone for Tubby but couldn’t think of someone right away. I also wanted someone for Ollie in A Certain Crossroad. So glad you pulled up a red-head. As you know, Hepburn and O’Hara are two of my permanent favorites!


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