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.
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.
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.
Nudge nudge, wink wink.
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 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 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!
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 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 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.
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 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.