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The Remains Of The Day Reimagined As A Classic Era Film

A few months ago I did a post where I reimagined Blade Runner as a 1940’s Noir film. One of my readers said that they would love to see me reimagine some other films. 

One of my favourite films is The Remains Of The Day (1993). I have always thought this would have made a terrific 1940’s/1950’s romantic drama. I have decided to pick this film to reimagine next. 

The film takes place in a British mansion. We follow the lives of the servants and master living in that house. The film focuses mainly on the unspoken love and attraction developing between the repressed butler, Mr. Stevens, and the younger housekeeper, Miss Kenton. It is a deeply moving and frustrating portrayal of love, longing, repression, class division and the horrors of war. 

The Director 

I would choose Anthony Asquith as the director. He was one of the most gifted British directors working during the classic film era.  He directed several British classics including The Browning Version, The Winslow Boy and Pygmalion. His debut film was Shooting Stars, which is my favourite Silent film. 

I picked Asquith because he really knew how to focus on the characters. His films also just let the actors do their thing on screen, which is precisely what is needed with this particular story. 

The Cast

I thought of Michael Redgrave for the role of Mr. Stevens. In The Browning Version he more than proved that he could do emotional repression so well. I think he would have been perfect as the repressed man who desperately wants to acknowledge his love, but who doesn’t know how to even begin to do so.

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Michael Redgrave. Screenshot by me.

Michael Redgrave was a commanding screen presence, and I’ve no doubt that he would have convinced as the butler in charge of his staff, and would also have convinced as a dignified and distant man struggling with his emotions and desires. 

 

Greer Garson was my first and only choice for the role of the housekeeper, Miss Sarah Kenton. I think that Greer would have been perfect in this role because she could play outgoing, strong, capable and bubbly characters so well. I can imagine no other actress from this era in this role. 

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Greer Garson. Screenshot by me.

I think she would have been terrific in scenes just featuring Miss Kenton and Mr. Stevens (such as the book scene, the scene where she is crying, or the scene in the garden where she teases him about his guilty smile). 

 

I thought of the seriously underrated Eric Portman for the role of Mr. Benn, a former colleague of Miss Kenton’s, who falls in love with her when he meets her again some years after they worked together.

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Eric Portman. Screenshot by me.

Eric always convinced as down to earth, worldly, and blunt screen characters. I think he would have been terrific in the role of the man who is able to express his feelings and desires to the woman he loves. 

 

I thought of Felix Aylmer for the role of Mr. Steven’s father. Felix did stern and dignified so well.

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Felix Aylmer. Screenshot by me.

I think he would have been perfect as the old butler, whose devotion to his duty means that he doesn’t think of himself at all, even when he is seriously ill. I also think he and Michael would have worked very well together in the scenes where Stevens and his father talk with each other, and in the moments where we see how complicated and strained their relationship is.

 

I thought of Robert Donat for the role of Lord Darlington. I think he would have been able to convey that his character is a decent man who does what he does to try and prevent another war, but who is also terribly naive and misled in believing that the Nazis can be trusted.

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Robert Donat. Screenshot by me.

Robert was someone who oozed decency, and I think that could have been used to good effect here. I think he would also have been good in the scenes where Lord Darlington becomes introspective and filled with regret and doubt. 

 

What do you think of these casting choices? Which actors would you have loved to have seen play these characters?

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8 thoughts on “The Remains Of The Day Reimagined As A Classic Era Film”

  1. You neglected to recast two other important supporting roles; the role of Congressman Lewis, played by Christopher Reeve, and the role of Reginald Cardinal, played by Hugh Grant.

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  2. Good choices for your characters. The Remains of the Day could so easily have been a classic film. This recasting game doesn’t work with every movie, but obviously it works just fine with period pieces.

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