My Cast of Dunces

Happy New Year!  I’m looking forward to 2009 being the most fawningest over great things ever.  With the geek-tastic 2009 film preview mags I’ve seen, 30 Rock soaring in the ratings, and Kristen Wiig getting loads of press for her performances on SNL , we’re off to a great start.  My first celebrated item of 2009, however is going to be a Christmas present that I received from good friend and blog-hater, Ironballs McGinty.

64.  A Confederacy Of Dunces

A big thanks to Ironballs for gifting me this terrific novel which has soared into my top ten favorite books list.  A hilarious cult classic–“A Confederacy of Dunces” has a tragic back-story.  The author, John Kennedy Toole, frustrated in his failed efforts to get it published, killed himself.  His mother and novelist Walker Percy managed to get it on bookshelves. Toole won a posthumous Pulitzer for it in 1981.  Depressing for several reasons, not least the knowledge that there won’t ever be any follow-up masterpieces.

John Kennedy Toole

There’s not much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been sung from the hilltops.  It’s years ahead of its time (nearly impossible to believe that it was written in the early sixties).  It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious.  It’s a book I’ll definitely pick up and enjoy again.

Now, since I have nothing new to add to the literary conversation, I’ll do what I do best:  imagine it as a movie and compile my dream cast.  First though, a very brief history of the failed attempts to bring the book to cinematic life:  In 1982, Harold Ramis was going to cast John Belushi and Richard Pryor as the two leads.  Belushi died and the project fell apart.  In 1997, Stephen Fry was commissioned to write a screenplay for filming.  Lord knows what happened to that.  A more recent version had been slated for 2005 and also held promise–Will Ferrell as the lead and Lily Tomlin as Ignatius’ mother, Irene Reilly.  Coulda been ace.  Steven Soderbergh was writing with Scott Kramer and David Gordon Green of Pineapple Express was directing!  Publisher’s rights within the film studios put the kibosh on this one.   Alas, we cannot dwell for too  long on what might have been.  Fortuna’s wheel spins on.

My dream cast, as it is a dream cast, has actors that are now far too old and in some cases too young to play their roles, but I’m considering them when they were at the appropriate age range (or with fabulous ageing stage makeup).  For example, my pick for the lead character, Ignatius J. Reilly is now in his 50’s.  The character is 30.  So, just imagine him in the appropriate time frame.  I don’t think you’re going to find anyone more physically suited for this role:

Than this guy:
Mike Hagerty as Ignatius J. Reilly

You might remember him from such films as Overboard and V.I. Warshawski.  Perfection!  I have confidence that this character actor could nail the righteous, Boethius-spouting, mother-hating sloth that is Ignatius J. Reilly.

Rachel Dratch as Myrna Minkoff

Rachel Dratch lands the coveted role of the grossly oversexed Myrna Minkoff.  Any excuse to see more Rachel Dratch really, but I truly think she could do this role proud.

Dianne Wiest as Irene Reilly

As with Rachel Dratch, any excuse to watch more of the delightful Dianne Wiest.  She’s the squinty-eyed best!

James Caan as Gus Levy

I don’t know why James Caan for this except that the character of Gus Levy kind of reminds me of the Dad he played in Elf.  Though, he needs to be a bit more of a sad-sack.

Will Forte as Patrolman Mancuso

Under-appreciated Will Forte would look great in all of the humiliating disguises that the ineffectual street cop is forced to wear.

Garrett Morris as Burma Jones

As long as he could develop the dialect used in the book, Garrett Morris is the man for the part.


Glenn Close as Lana Lee

Glenn, I think, is of a perfect age to play the abusive owner of the dank Night of Joy bar.

Plus, her villainesses always have that steely sadism that is needed for such a character.

Carol Kane as Miss Trixie

Carol Kane can apply the perfect amount of dementia to the senile Miss Trixie.

Remember her in Scrooged?  “Look Frank, a toaster!” I love Carol Kane.
Steve Martin as Paradise Hotdogs Owner, Mr. Clyde

There’s always a role for Steve Martin.
Parker Posey as Darlene

Lookout cockatoos!  (You have to read the book).

Other casting includes Fred Armisen as Mr. Gonzalez and Amy Sedaris as Mrs. Levy.

This film would be directed by Jon Favreau (he’s good at honoring source material) and I’d have a cameo as one of the rough lesbians from the last few chapters of the book.  I think I’d like to play Betty Bumper specifically.  John Kennedy Toole’s  other novel “Neon Bible”, which he wrote when he was 16 and never submitted for publication in his lifetime, actually was made into a film–in 1995.  I can’t really comment on it because I haven’t read the book nor have I seen the film.  But if I get around to doing either, I’ll let you know.  Until then, I’ll be producing the movie of “Confederacy…” in my head.

4 responses to “My Cast of Dunces”

  1. Ironballs McGinty Avatar
    Ironballs McGinty

    Whoa! Now that’s just great! If I can get some funding together it’s yours baby! Actually, with the price of metals rising all the time, I would even consider trading in my balls……

  2. Ol’ Ironballs pointed me in the direction of your blog as I too am a great fan of Ignatius and his antics. Like the casting ideas, specifically Jon Favraeu for directing and Mr. Caan for Mr. Levy.

    1. Thanks Martin H and Ripninety! Ironballs was a true friend in recommending the read. I keep thinking of memorable scenes and laughing out-loud.

  3. Awesome selection! The Ignatius pick is spot on!

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