Silent Take: Star Trek circa 1926

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Star Trek’s network debut and I knew I had to do something to celebrate. What better way than to reimagine it as a silent film? (Don’t answer that!)

My Silent Take series looks at famous modern films and imagines what they would have been like in the silent era. You can catch up on all my past posts here. I have covered Batman, James Bond, Star Wars, Despicable Me and much more.

Since I haven’t done one of these in a while, let me discuss how I decide who is qualified to be cast:

Studios and countries are not considered boundaries. As long as the performer was active in the entertainment industry and COULD have been cast during the target year, they are fair game. This wasn’t how Hollywood operated, of course, but this is our little fantasy so let’s enjoy ourselves.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The poster is a mishmash of several designs from the era with an attempt at a deco vibe and the Starfleet uniform colors as a guide. I used “Vulcanian” as a cutesy gag and an ultra-nerdy reference to Mudd’s Women.

The Stars:

rod-la-rocque

Rod La Rocque as Kirk: Our dear Rod was a swashbuckler and romancer of the old school, he could handle action scenes and he was not opposed to doffing his shirt. I think that checks most of the boxes for playing our gallant Captain Kirk.

cruise-of-the-jasper-b-pants
Rod la Rocque in “The Cruise of the Jasper B”

Nudge nudge, wink wink.

Blanchar (left) in "The Chess Player"
Blanchar (left) in “The Chess Player”

Pierre Blanchar as Spock: Monsieur Blanchar may not be familiar to American audiences but he has the two most important qualifications: he can act and he looks good in bangs. His cold performance as a Polish freedom fighter in The Chess Player is a nice sample of what he could do.

Harry Carey in "Beyond the Border" He's a doctor, not a life preserver!
Harry Carey in “Beyond the Border”
He’s a doctor, not a life preserver!

Harry Carey as McCoy: Country medicine with a dose of grumpy? Carey is the man for you! A versatile performer with an underrated flair for comedy, he can easily set a bone or banter with that infuriating Vulcan.

josephine bakerJosephine Baker as Uhura: Some of Uhura’s best character moments were in the mess hall as she entertained the crew with her wit and music. Baker specialized in funny/sexy dances and won hearts all over the world with her unique charm. Perfect!

Fogel in "Chess Fever"
Fogel in “Chess Fever”

Vladimir Fogel as Chekhov: Genuine Muscovite Fogel was an accomplished comedian who specialized in playing boyish romantics. Sounds about right for everyone’s unlucky-in-love space Russian!

Sessue Hayakawa in "The Dragon Painter"
Sessue Hayakawa in “The Dragon Painter”

Sessue Hayakawa as Sulu: While Hayakawa’s breakout role was villainous, he soon carved out a niche playing heroes in films produced by his own company. Hayakawa made an effort to portray Japanese characters as something more than the one-note villains that were all too common.

laura la plante

Laura La Plante as Yeoman Rand: La Plante has the sort of sporty, adventurous persona that one would expect from a Starfleet yeoman and she could handle comedy and drama with equal flair. Her flirtations with her captain are sure to charm.

Moore with Gloria Swanson in "Manhandled"
Moore with Gloria Swanson in “Manhandled”

Matt Moore as Scotty: Okay, so he’s Irish but since when has a Scotsman ever played Scotty? Moore has the robust, hale and hearty vibe that is required to properly play everyone’s favorite starship engineer. The title cards will take care of the accent.

blanche-sweet

Blanche Sweet as Nurse Chapel: Sweet gives off a smart, confident vibe, which is ideal for Starfleet’s top nurse. She also looks athletic enough to dodge flying soup bowls when a certain Vulcanian enters pon farr. (Would pon farr be censored?)

Behind the Camera:

With her interest in social justice, Lois Weber is the obvious choice to direct. As screenwriters, I would like to have Clara Beranger, who did such a lovely adaptation of the feminist Miss Lulu Bett, and to add some of that spice and zip, Elinor Glynn. Finally, to add some humor, I would like Agnes Marie Johnston in the writers’ room as well. And now our 1926 Star Trek has four times as many women behind the camera as Star Trek: Discovery. Yay us!

Random Guest Stars:

Charley Chase as Trelayne, Hobart Bosworth as Commodore Decker, Chester Conklin as Harry Mudd, Buster Keaton as Norman, Conrad Veidt as Sarek, Louise Dresser as Sarah, Claire McDowell as T’Pau, Betty Amann as T’Pring.

How would you recast Star Trek in another era? Classic talkies or silent films, share your thoughts below.

38 Replies to “Silent Take: Star Trek circa 1926”

  1. I LOVE your Star Trek!!! Superb in front of and behind the camera!

    Beyond Milton Sills as Kirk and Conrad Veidt as Spock (a must-have: Lon Chaney guest starring as Khan), I’ll have to get clear of a work project I’m immersed in to come up with my own detailed 1920s cast and crew choices. Again, High Praise on your choices!!!

  2. Thank you for the TOS fun! Great choices.

    The only other possible casting I could think of would be Anna May Wong as T’Pring. She’d definitely be able to handle any logic Spock threw her way.

  3. Wonderful idea! Just love this post.. Pierre Blanchar as Spock is superb… I love his bangs and his side burns, wowee wow wow… Love the bloggers idea of Chaney as Khan! Great tribute you should tweet it at Shatner…

  4. I was thinking Mack Sennett for Harry Mudd.
    William S Hart would also be interesting in a Vulcan role.
    And definitely agree- Chaney for Khan.

    Stumped for a Christopher Pike actor- would it be different actors for The Cage & The Menagerie?

    Chase is a good pick, I could also see Trelayne being played by Reginald Denny.

      1. after checking to see who that was (I clearly need to watch more silents) I can see him working well. Def. got that Jeffrey Hunter/Pike vibe to him.

  5. I like your choices. Carey as McCoy, Fogel as Chekhov and Hayakawa as Sulu would both be perfect, except they would probably have to give Sulu more to do. William S Hart would be good as Spock’s father Sarek, but the part might not be big enough for him.

  6. TGIFinally- revision to my own upthread and humble 20’s casting call: Willian S. Hart as Spock (agree that Veidt would do a show-stopping take on a “bloused out” Sarek).

    Thomas Ince on board as producer, and guest starring in some capacity.

  7. I could see Thomas Meighan as Khan and Lon Chaney as The Gorn. I would pick Anna Mae Wong as T’Pring but I could also see her as that snotty princess whose tears drive men nuts. That could also be a good role for Pola Negri.

  8. As that past-generation’s Andy Serkis, Chaney would make such a great Khan that he’d be asked back for the inevitable sequel as another well-disguised alien of some sort. He’d do fine, but I’d gather he would make a too-emotive Horta if that episode was part of the new film’s plot.

  9. This is beyond awesome. 😀 And Josephine Baker as Uhura – too perfect! The actress (blanking on her name) who plays Uhura in the reboot movies is great and all, but I’d pay good money for a time machine so I could see Josephine Baker in the role! And thank you for including supporting folks like Christine Chapel and Janice Rand! 😉

  10. A late response from me, but anyway, I think you have the wrong Sennett comedian for Harry Mudd. That part definitely has Mack Swain’s name on it!

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