Brian Aherne

  1. Gary Cooper, Peter Ibbetson, 1934.   Before Cooper and Ann Harding, other couples were suggested: Aherne-Harding, Fredric March-Miriam Hopkins, Robert Donat-Irene Dunne.
  2. Errol Flynn, Captain Blood, 1934.  Robert Donat had began  the film but  his asthma forced him to quit. Warner’s first thought was loaning Cary from Paramount. Although it hardly sounded part of his vocabulary, the always histrionic  director Michael Curtiz  protested that  Grant  was “too effete.”  Brian Aherne, Ronald Colman, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Fredric March were in/out/disinterested before  Errol was in like Flynn and became an overnight star.  (Alec Baldwin or Arnold Schwarzenegger  were due for  a re-make in 1994).
  3. Leslie Howard, Romeo and Juliet, 1935.  Absolutely preposterous…!!  The 13-year-old Juliet was played by Norma Shearer, who was 36, opposite Leslie Howard playing Romeo…  at 43.  “It is comical watching these middle-aged folks act as high school sophomores,” said web critic Matthew M Foster at Foster on “But even more ridiculous is Romeo’ hotheaded, class clown friend, Mercutio, portrayed by the 54-year-old John Barrymore!”  It could have been far worse. Other unlikely Romeos were Brian Aherne, Clark Gable (Romeo with a trash tash?), Fredric March, Franchot Tone, Roberts Montgomery and Taylor.  The British Robert Donat, John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier made (slightly) more sense … but really. What a sad end to Irving Thalberg’s producing career, even jf it was a love letter to his wife, Shearer – his widow months later in 1936.
  4. Charles Boyer, The Garden of Allah, 1935.   Among the numerous  duos juggled  by producer David Selznick was a reprise of the on (and off) screen lovers in  Song of Songs, 1933. Aherne and Dietrich. 
  5. Franchot Tone, The Gorgeous Hussy,  1935.    Once Joan Crawford won the titular Peggy O’Neal Eaton, her brand new husband became her co-star.  That was as inevitable as the Hays Office banning President Andrew Jackson’s profanity, ie Lionel Barrymore saying “damn” or “hell”!
  6. Donald Woods, A Tale of Two Cities, 1935.  “A dread of dual roles,” said producer David O Selznick, was the reason why Ronald Colman refused  to play Charles Darney as well as the hero Sydney Carton in the Dickens classic. Aherne and Robert Donat were seen for Darney.  And Colman doubled up following year in MGM’s Prisoner of Zenda
  7. Edmond Lowe, The Garden Murder Case, 1935.    The eighth of the 15 films based on SS Van Dine’s (actually, Willard Huntingdon Wright’s) snobbish, cynical bored, supercilious, dilettante detective Philo Vance. Oher Philo facts… William Powell (better known for the better Thin Man) Vanced four times, Alan Curtis and Warren Williams twice, one each for Lowe, Paul Lukas, Basil (Sherlock) Rathbone, Grant Richards, James Stephenson, William Wright… and incredibly the UK’s Wilfrid Hyde-White. But never Aherne.
  8. Clark Gable, Parnell, 1936.   Longtime on-off lovers Joan Crawford and Clark Gable made seven movies in as many years. This was not one of them. Crawford advised him to copy her and quit this “boring, pretentious” script. He stayed and Myrna Loy joined him (becoming King and Queen of Hollywood in Ed Sullivan’s poll). Crawford wuz right. Film tanked and put Gable off costume dramas… including Gone With The Wind. Aherne escaped the project in July.
  9. Henry Fonda,  I Met My Love Again, 1937.   College lovers who promised to wed meet up when she’s a widow. All together now: Ahh! Lady in question? Joan Bennett. 
  10. George Brent, They Dare Not Love, 1940.     Brent was borrowed from Warner for  Frankenstein director James Whale’s final film.


 Birth year: 1902Death year: 1986Other name: Casting Calls:  10