"Smashing down upon the underworld rackets comes the Blue Beetle...made almost invulnerable by special armor, and given super-energy by vitamin 2-X, he crusades with hard-hitting fists for law and justice...in reality he is Dan Garret...rookie police man" So began the golden age adventures of the Blue Beetle on the pages of Fox Features Syndicate's comic. He had a radio show...but what if he appeared on the silver screen in the late 1930's/early 1940's?
Dan Garret/Blue Beetle: James Cagney
After some thought I decided that James Cagney would be the perfect for the role of Dan Garret. Sure he's probably better known for his gangster roles, but he did comedies, westerns, musicals...so why not a comic book action hero? He played a scrappy tough guy more times than you can count, so why not have him do it on the right side of the law (well mostly...if you don't count being a vigilante) for once?
Officer Mike Mannigan: Alan Hale Sr.
Speaking of the law, Rookie Patrolman Dan Garret's partner Mike Mannigan needs to be a tough, but somewhat likeable authority figure. Watching Alan Hale Sr (not to be confused with his son Alan "the Skipper" Hale Jr.) in "The Fighting 69th" alongside Cagney sold me. In that film Hale plays a tough Sargent who rides Cagney's character, but is doing so in the hopes of making him a better soldier. I see Hale being the perfect mentor to Dan Garret, while also not being a fan of the vigilante Blue Beetle doing the job of decent lawmen like himself.
Joan Mason: Priscilla Lane
Dan's love interest, Joan Mason, is a reporter and pilot (she even had her own comic strip for a while!). I just recently re-watched "Arsenic & Old Lace" and saw Priscilla Lane as Cary Grant's love interest and, I'm not going to lie, fell in love! She's beautiful, and manages to demand the viewers attention on screen every time she appears...plus she's a good actress!
Dr. Franz: Frank Morgan
Now, in the Golden Age adventures I've read, and the episodes of the Blue Beetle radio show I've heard, I don't think you'd quite call Dr. Franz "comic relief", but that that's exactly how I'd cast him! And I think if you go back and watch "The Wizard of Oz" you'll see why I'd cast Frank Morgan in the role. As Professor Marvel, the Emerald City gatekeeper, and the Wizard himself he comes off equal parts inventive, scatter brained, and incredibly sincere...just what you'd expect from a pharmacist who develops a super powered vitamin and light weight armor for a vigilante.
Sparky, Blue Beetle's teen sidekick: Roddy McDowall
Sparkington J. Northrup, also known as Sparky...I almost left him out of this, but even the Batman movie serial included Robin, so why shouldn't Blue Beetle get his teen sidekick? I looked at several child stars of the 30's and 40's and finally settled on a young Roddy McDowall. Look at that face! Can't you just picture him tagging along, excitedly following in Blue Beetle's footsteps?
Mister X: Leo G. Carroll
Now, who would the Golden Age Blue Beetle battle? Well, considering this would be the 1930s/1940s we'd be looking at the Mob or the Nazi's. Leo G. Carroll has the perfect look for this. He could be either, or both...but he's definitely the perfect actor to take on the role of a criminal mastermind threatening the city (or nation) that draws Blue Beetle into action!
So, what do you think Beetlemaniacs? Agree? Disagree? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!