Broderick Crawford


  1. Lon Chaney, Jr, Of Mice and Men, 1939.       This was a 10-4 for Crawford! “Presenter” Hal Roach aimed to retain the two itinerant workers from John Steinbeck’s  Depression era play in 1937-1938: Wallace Ford and Crawford as George and the mentally challenged Lennie. No way, said junior Lon, the LA stage Lennie. He  asked director Lewis Milestone for a test. Which he got, in a fashion, by performing  opposite the actresses reading for Mae. To his surprise (and Milestone’s!) that won him the film. Chaney may not have been so keen if he’d know how shambling Lennie would typecast him in a succession of  Universal’s monsters. (Never happened to Crawford). 
  2. Edward G.  Robinson, The Violent Men, 1954.     Edward G in a Western.  Never sounded right… And, indeed, he wasn’t in Old Tuscon at first, only arriving as a sub for Crawford, injured after committing the cardinal sin of Westerns – falling off his steed. Much the same again a decade later with Robinson taking over from an ill Spencer Tracy in Cheyenne Autumn.
  3. Forrest Tucker, Finger Man, 1954.    Laid low by “a virus attack” (yes, in 1954!), Crawford was replaced as the crime boss by Tucker – who remained the target of the titular ex-con Frank Lovejoy.
  4. Burgess Meredith, King Lear, 1987.      The contract  for bilious  auteur Jean-Luc Godard to tackle Shakespeare was signed (an hour after it had  been mooted) on  large napkin at the Majestic Hotel bar during the 1985 Cannes festival.  The film was just as ridiculous. Shuffling his kings from Norman Mailer to Rod Steiger to Paul Newman, Godard  left it too late  to contact Crawford.  He was dying from numerous strokes at age 75.

 Birth year: 1911Death year: 1986Other name: Casting Calls:  4