August 14, 2009

F Troop movie doomed to fail?

In F Troop: the Movie? Guy Nemeth wrote:You know how I know this probably won't be good? Because it doesn't have the same actors as the show. The terrific acting and comic genius of the actors is what made the show great. Also, you keep talking about finding real Native Americans to play the Hekawis. Have you forgotten that Chief Wild Eagle was an Italian? It was a SPOOF, it's not supposed to be authentic that's why it was funny. Honestly trying to go that authentic could kill it.My response:

Good point about comic genius, Guy. A lot of old shows succeeded because of great casting. E.g., Don Adams in Get Smart or Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched. The shows were not incredibly well-written or funny, but the actors made them work.

I'm not sure anybody thinks F Troop was a success. But if they do, it's probably because of Larry Storch. If the show hadn't had him, it would've been even more forgettable than it was.

Casting the Hekawis

But I disagree with your other point. I doubt F Troop's creators used Italian actors as some sort of ironic commentary on Hollywood's casting policies. I suspect they were following the common hiring practices of the times.

You can spoof cowboy-Indian relations with real Indians, you know. It's not particularly hard to do. See Little Big Man or Buffalo Bill and the Indians, for example.

If the F Troop movie uses fake Indians, it'll be spoofing the Indians themselves, not their relationships with the Army. I suspect Natives will protest that vociferously. It'll probably make the movie an epic failure before it even premieres.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.


dmarks said...

No doubt a movie of it would end up a lot like that awful "Dudley Do-Right" movie.... which also had Italian-Americans playing the over-the-top stereotypical Indians.

Rob said...

A Facebook exchange on the subject:

Kevin Gover:  Hmm. I agree with Rob that the casting of the original show reflected the practice of the time. I do think, though, that having non-Indians playing the Indians in the movie might be the only way those characters will be funny. Think Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder." Not that Indians aren't good comic actors, but self-parody is very difficult ... and rarely successful, and I doubt the script will give them room to pull it off. Of course, "Tropic Thunder" had a great script that let Downey pull it off, and this movie probably won't. So bottom line, the Indians are unlikely to be funny. But I still want dibs on playing Crazy Cat.

Rob Schmidt:  Interesting perspective, Kevin. But I'm not sure we should encourage the casting of non-Indians to play Indians--even in a "spoof." If the movie is successful, Hollywood may use it to justify casting non-Indians to play Indians in the next "Dances with Wolves" or "Smoke Signals."

Rob Schmidt:  A couple of options: 1) Do a modern-day "F Troop" set in Iraq or somewhere else. I.e., offend a different minority besides Indians. <g> 2) Realize that "F Troop" was a mediocre product of its time and forgo a remake that probably will bomb.

Kevin Gover:  I choose option 2.

Rob Schmidt:  Good choice. <g>

Someone pointed out that "Dudley Do-Right" was another movie based on an old TV show that was set in the West and spoofed Indians. It was a huge bomb and did nothing except perpetuate Native stereotypes.

I suspect "F Troop" would be about the same. If I were a movie investor, it's about the last idea I'd risk my money on.

Richard Bugbee:  How about an "F Troop" with Indians playing the non-Indian parts?

Rob Schmidt:  Yeah, they could do a whole thing with Indian actors as Anglos and vice versa. Like the movie "White Man's Burden," but a comedy.