Thursday, 10 May 2018

On-Screen Carellas (and Carella substitutes!)

Here, for your delight and wonder, is a selection of the actors who have played our favourite Detective (2nd Grade) from the 87th Precinct, Steve Carella. Remember that Carella is described as:

"[giving] the impression of great power...
a fine-honed muscular power. He wore his brown hair short.
His eyes were brown, with a peculiar downward slant that
gave him a clean-shaved oriental appearance. He had wide
shoulders and narrow hips." (Cop Hater, 1956)

It's clear that McBain had a vision for his leading-man and, as with the other cops in the squad, his description is oft-repeated through the years. One of the questions that crops up a lot when discussing the 87th Precinct is "Who would you cast to play....?" - so here are some of the answers given by various producers and casting directors over the years.

click to enlarge

Not all of these actors played an exact Steve Carella, though - Tatsuya Nakadai plays Chief Detective Tokura in Kurosawa's High & Low (1963). His character is the closest the film has to Carella, but also combines aspects of Lt. Pete Byrnes. Also, Vinod Khanna, is based on the character in High and Low, rather than Carella in the book King's Ransom, but he's our only Bollywood Cop (Chief Inspector Gill), so he counts!

There are (probably) some missing Carellas. Some of the Japanese TV productions are hard to trace and sites such as IMDB rarely have character names and when they do they're often renamed to make them realistic for the setting. Without seeing these films and TV plays, it's hard to tell who is who. 

Another interesting point is that Robert Loggia, in the 1958 film version of Cop Hater, is playing a character called "Carelli" - quite why the name is changed by one vowel it's hard to tell, although I suspect that Carelli sounds even more Italian than Carella, thus reinforcing the character's ethnic background. 

Let us know who's your favourite out of the image above and if you've any suggestions who you'd like to see (or have seen) in the role.

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