This is wonderful. Now the question is which director, past or present, would be the best to make this movie. And which composer to score it.
Which led in very short order to the following responses:
• “I want Frank Capra, if only to guarantee them both a gloriously happy ending.”
• “Howard Hawks and Aaron Copland, respectively.”
• “Hawks. Play it for the laughs.”
• “The ever-underrated Mitchell Leisen (Remember the Night, Midnight).”
• “I will leave the composer to Terry, who is infinitely more qualified than I am in that department, but surely Douglas Sirk would have to direct.”
My reply to that one: “Oh, GOD. (Tears hair.)”
• “How about Preston Sturges, and the spin he could put on it? A little wry humor wouldn’t hurt, and he always did well with somewhat absurd, larger-than-life situations.”
• “The answer is self-evident: the man who mastered both sentiment and wit is Leo McCarey.”
• “William Wyler, with a score by Hugo Friedhofer. The only other plausible choice would be Lubitsch with a score of Viennese waltzes. I could go either way, but I can’t see any contemporary director making it work. It’s too romantic and-old fashioned and there’s neither CGI in it nor repeated use of the word ‘fuck.’”
I love all these suggestions, but I’m struck by the fact that the directors mentioned above were without exception golden-age filmmakers. In fact, the movie that I find to be closest in spirit to the improbable tale of Mrs. T and me is Brad Anderson’s Next Stop Wonderland, a 1998 indie romcom which I described when it came out as “an irresistibly charming movie about young love…Simply by taking romance seriously (for there is nothing more serious than comedy), Brad Anderson has arrayed himself unequivocally on the side of the angels.” As for casting, I myself think Hope Davis should play Mrs. T, but she would be equally happy with Laura Linney. Catherine Keener would also be a good pick.
Alas, Anderson has long since gotten out of the romcom business—he now specializes in thrillers—but perhaps Whit Stillman could do Mrs. T and Me as a costume piece!
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The theatrical trailer for Brad Anderson’s Next Stop Wonderland: