After watching the 2000 film adaptation of Nick Hornby's wonderful 1995 novel "High Fidelity" a few months ago, I began a ranting post about the decision some genius made to move the location from London to Chicago. As if American audiences couldn't tolerate the main character being a Brit. BTW, the film was otherwise pretty good and Jack Black was sensational singing Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On".
But, soon after I started my tirade about boneheaded choices Hollywood types regularly make, three terrific actors from an earlier era popped into my mind's eye - Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Natalie Wood. That would be Marlon the Asian (an exotic "oriental" in "Teahouse Of The August Moon"), Paul the Native American ( a "half-breed" in "Hombre"), and Natalie the Latina (Puerto Rican Maria in "West Side Story"). At that moment I realized my whining about a white guy being an American instead of a Brit was small potatoes, Hollywood-wise. What is your nomination for the most egregious miscasting from those bad old days when white people portrayed almost all people? Asked a different way, how did Chita Rivera keep a straight face playing alongside Natalie Wood?
Although we're still not out of the woods - note the distinct Chilean visages of Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep in the mid-90's film adaptation of Isabel Allende's "House Of the Spirits" - we've clearly come a long way. Zorro nowadays, thank goodness, is Antonio Banderas; RIP Erroll. So hold me to this - If I go on a future toot about a minor detail some filmmaker botches adapting a good book, remind me about George Chakiris playing Natalie Wood's Latino brother, OK?