Cary Grant

 

The Ultimate Movie Star

“My family name is Leach.  To which, at my christening, was added Archibald Alexander,

with no opportunity for me to protest.   For more than half my 58 years

I have cautiously peered from behind the facade of

a man known as Cary Grant.”

 

 

  1. Gary Cooper, Devil and Deep, 1931.    
    Cary was more keen on Broadway.  What else when  the verdict of his  Paramount  screentest (with Jeannette MacDonald, no less),  was… 
    “You’re bow-legged and your neck is too thick.” Meanwhile, after 19 movies during 1929-1931, Gary Cooper  had disappeared on  an  Euro-vacation.   He was back soon enough when Frederic March warned him how this new fella was obviously being groomed to take over the #1 spot at Paramount. It was easy for Cooper to push Grant out of this lead role, Lieutenant Sempter.  However, the  film’s Russian-born director Marion Gering was a Cary fan (he introduced the then Archie to Paramount boss BP Schulberg – “use him in  te test of your wife tomorrow!” – and indirectly to Mae West). Gering gave him a cameo role. As Grant’s biographers,  Chuck Ashman and Pamela Trescott, said all he had to do was “stand around, look handsome and die at the appropriate moment.”  Plus giving Coop the message – “I am here” —  as per the mindset of Schulberg, tiring of Cooper’s lofty attitude.  This is the first of two only films featuring both Cary and Gary. They never shared scenes  – apart from joining the entire cast  for  the tea-party sequence of Alice in Wonderland, 1933. Devil was also the Hollywood debut of “Charles Laughton – The eminent English character actor in the role of The Commander”! (The girl was Tallulah Bankhead.  She made it,  she told a reporter,  “so I  could fuck Gary Cooper.”)b Grant rapidy  struck stardom  via  Blonde Venuswith Dietrich and his Mae West  pair, She Done Him Wrong and  I’m No Angel. And it was them, and not Cooper, who actually saved Paramount from bankruptcy. 

  2. Randolph Scott, Hot Saturday, 1931.   Due to be lowly Bill Fadden, Grant was promoted to the lead, Romer Sheffield –  another playboy, as in Blonde Venus –  instead of his elders: Gary Cooper or Fredric March. This was Grant’s first top-billing  – “a Gable-esque leading man,” hailed the New York Herald Tribune. And to make the party complete,  Fadden became the six-year-older Randy… Cary’s future and  longtime house-mate and  lover. They were known as  “the Damon and Pythias of Tinseltown.” Grant, of course,  was  the first to use The G Word  for  homosexualoity in  Bringing Up Baby, 1937. When asked why he wwas wearing a negligee, he famously replied:    “Because I just went gay all of a sudden!”  He didn’t invent the slang, as the  legend suggests;  gay had been so used since the 20s.
  3. David Manners, A Bill of Divorcement, 1931.    Oh those early days…  Grant, the ikon to be, was actually rejected by director Georghe Cukor in favour of some Canadian called Manners.  This was Katharine Hepburn’s movie debut. Who could she play with?  Well, not Grant, said director George  Cukor. “I could never get weak-kneed at the idea of Cary Grant.”  Kate did. She made three beauties wth him: : Sylvia Scarlett, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story. “You never saw such timing,” said Grant. “ She had a mind like a computer – every detail worked out.  She taught me just about everything I know about comedy – how to time my lines, the solemn way to say something comic…”
  4. Roscoe Karns, If I Had a Million, 1932.  For the first time Randy Scott plucked a role away from his room-mate… . Scott’s co-star went from Cary’s planned Evelyn Venable to  Helen Broderick to Kay Johnson. Director John Cromwell did not stray far from the hearth  to find  her. She was Mrs. Cromwell during 1928-1945.
  5. Randolph Scott, Village Tale, 1934.  For the first time Randy Scott plucked a role away from his room-mate… . Scott’s co-star went from Cary’s planned Evelyn Venable to  Helen Broderick to Kay Johnson. Director John Cromwell did not stray far from the hearth  to find  her. She was Mrs. Cromwell during 1928-1945.
  6. Franchot Tone, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, 1934. “The young lad from England,” as Ed Sullivan called him,was on his way to topping the box-office for an amazing 34 years as, in  US critic Pauline Kael’s perfect phrase: The man from dream city. Frederic March had also been up for Lieutenant John Frsythe. Fours years later, Cary headlined Gunga Din, a far more memorable three-Brit-soldiers-in-India romp. Better writer, too: Rudyard Kipling.

  7. Franchot Tone, Mutiny on the Bounty, 1935.   
    MGM’s production icon Irving Thalberg asked Grant to play Midshipman Roger Byam (based the real Midshipman Peter Heywood). aboard, not HMS, but His Majesty’s Armed Vessel Bounty). However, Paramount boss Adolph Zukor refused to loan him out –  too busy and too valuable to Paramount. Grant never forgave Zukor   and once his five-year contract was up, he refused to sign again with Paramount…   or any  other studio,  becoming Hollywood’s first  autonomous actor for hire. But Zukor remembered how badly  MGM had treated him… before Mae West saved his and, incidentally,  made  Grant a star . Clark Gable, playing Fletcher Christian did not want Tone in the film. They had been bitter rivals for Joan Crawford’s bed when making Dancing Lady, 1933. However, the guys  became close friends due to their mutual interests.  Booze and broads.  (Crawford was Mrs Tone in 1935 for four years – and had an on-off-on-off  affair with Gable across 20 years). Cary also  quit  the Academy. It,  in  turn, never forgave him (two nominations only from 77 films!) until Gregory Peck’s idea of a (rare) honorary Oscar for, said presenter Frank Sinatra, “the sheer brilliance of his acting that makes it all look easy,” on April 7, 1970.  
     
  8. Errol Flynn, Captain  Blood, 1935.   Robert Donat had begun  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, Clake Gable, Leslie Howard, Fredric March were in/out/disinterested before  Errol was in like Flynn and became an instant  star.  Like most of Hollywood, Grant hated Curtiz.  On the wrap day of  Night and Day ten years later, Cary looked him in eye and said, in front ot cast and crew and, indeed, in stuff of Hollywood legend:  “If I’m ever chump enough to work with you again, you’ll know I’m either broke or I’ve lost my mind.”
  9. John Howard, Border Flight, 1935.    Back from his one and only UK film (The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss, 1935) – and the death of his father, Elias Leach  –  Grant refused his studio’s programmer – Frances Farmer’s second film. He wanted a raise and script approva.l He got the money and was let off the movie. Ohioan John Howard,  was seven times Hollywood’s Bulldog Drummond and  Katharine Hepburn’s fiance in her third Grant film, The Philadelphia Story, 1940. Realising what he’d missed, Grant rushed  to co-starred with Farmer the following year in The Toast of New York –  far better than this twaddkle,  which she called: ”By long odds the worst picture ever made.”
  10.  Maurice Chevalier, The Beloved Vagabond, 1936. Once Grant rejected the re-make in London, the French star grabbed it in another fruitless attempt to recapture the magic of his work with director Ernst Lubitsch. BritIsh newcomer Margaret Lockwood replaced Bette Davis, busy being sued by Jack Warner. 

  11. Ralph Bellamy, The Awful Truth 1937.  
    Still seething about Topper – before it proved a winner – Cary Grant was not on form when preparing for director Leo McCarey’s comedy about… divorce!   Or as the Columbia ogre Harry Cohn put it, a Frank Capra film without [expletive deleted] Frank Capra!  Co-star Irene Dunne explained Cary would be so  apprehensive about nearly  everything in those days, ”that he would almost get physically sick.” As usual, he tried to buy his way out of what he saw as trouble.  He should swop roles with Ralph Bellamy – who should be Dunne;s husband with Grant, if as anything at all, as The Other Man, originally written written for Topper, himself, Roland Young.   Also, Cary wasn’t happy with  McCarey doing re-writes every night and expecting him  to improvise all over the place.,.. which he happened to do extremely well.  (“The judge says this is my day to see the dog”).  Naturally, nobody took any notice of his complaints. Consecutive smash hits  for the Old Guard of Laurel and Hardy’s Hal  Roach and Leo McCarey – Topper and Truth – completed Archie Leach’s creation of the  Cary Grant we know and adore today.

  12. Fredric March, Trade Winds, 1937.   Grant was director Tay Garnett’s first choice for the skirt-chasing detective Sam Wye – having a shipboard romance with murder suspect Joan Bennett. New York Times critic Frank S Nugent hesitated to call it a rom-com,  “beginning as it does with a suicide, adding a murder and ending with a third body on the floor.”  And a fourth in 1951…  A year after marrying Bennett, the fim’s  producer, Walter Wanger, shot her agent, Jennings Lang, in his genitalia  for  having more than  his 10% with Bennett and was jailed for attempted murder. Time well spent. When he came out, after four months,  Wanger made… Riot In Cell Block 11.
  13. Ray Milland, Wise Girl,  1937.    Well, all of the titles – were  slanted towards Miriam  Hopkins as the wealthy leading lady:  Female of the Species, The Indestructible Susan and Women Have a Way.
  14. Edward G Robinson, The Amazing Dr Clitterhouse, 1938.      Edward G’s gangster image was all wrong for a shrink joining a gang – simply to study the criminal psyche.  Suggested replacements went from Cary to… Bette Davis. The film’s star, Humphrey Bogart,could not resist calling he whole thing…  Dr Clitoris.
  15. George Raft, Spawn of the North, 1938.   Cary and buddy  Randolph Scott churned into George Raft and Henry Fonda as the rivals in – wait for it – a salmon fishing war in Alaska. 
  16. Ray Milland, Men With Wings, 1938.     Now Cary and Randy Scott were first pegged as the fly boy heroes in an aviation thrillder (from Kitty Hawk to WW1) from one of the titular kind – the 1928 Wings director and WW1 daredevil, Wild Bill Wellman.

  17. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Gunga Din, 1938. 
    “From the pages of history and the pen of Rudyard Kipling…”  Cary Grant made two of his greatest 30s’ successes  – Topper and The Awful Truth –  with members of the old  Laurel & Hardy unit. Producer  Hal Roach – and writer-director Leo McCarey.  Here  Grant bondswith a third member, Stan & Ollier’s cameraman-turned-director George Stevens – who actually formed the greatest double act  known to man. (OK, after Adam and Eve!).  Result: another smash!  Or it was  once the continually  nervous  Grant persuaded producer Pando Berman to let him swop roles with Douglas Fairbanks and play Cutter. OK, said Berman. And the ex-Archibald Leach renamed him Archibald Cutter. In 1936, Berman had first attempted the tale  with Ronald Colman  (or Robert Donat) and Spencer Tracy. In 1937, he wanted Ray Milland and Franchot Tone. By the 60s, Cannon Films’ Go Go Boys – Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus – sought Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Roger Moore for a re-make.

  18. Melvyn Douglas, Ninotchka, 1939.  “Garbo Laughs!” Grant was MGM’s first choice for  Leon.  In fact, shooting began without a leading man.   And she combed through  Cary, Robert Montgomery, William Powell and Spencer Tracy before agreeing to Douglas. Two years later, he was second choice for her trite finale, Two-Faced Woman, 1940. (Her laughter was dubbed by another actress revealed the Hollywood Reporter in 1980).
  19. Gary Cooper, North West Mounted Police, 1939.   Cecil B DeMille’s first Technicolor film was without a hero during six months of pre-production.  First choices, Joel McCrea, Fredric March and John Wayne were lost to other movies. Cary disliked the script. So, Coop became  the Texas Ranger working with the Mounties after swopping roles with McCrea (known as the poor man’s Gary Cooper) so that Joel could make Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (also refused  by Cary).
  20. Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday, 1939.    Howard Hawks originally planned Grant as the reporter Hlldy Johnson –  and New York’s Mr Staccato of the Airwavs, newspaper and radio gossip columnist Walter Winchell, as the editor Walter Burns.  Then, scripter Charles Lederer suggested Hildy and Walter  be ex-spouses. Magic! Cary had also been a newspaperman in Wedding Present, 1935, which completed his Paramount contract and set him free.
  21. David Niven, Raffles, 1939.  The English gentleman thief was the forerunner (jn 1898) to the French Arsène Lupin (in 1905). Producer Sam Goldwyn had ten writers modernising the Edwardian  A J Raffles for Cary.  He liked it enough to lower his normal fee.  But when  faced with mutiny by contractee David Niven, Goldwyn dropped Grant and used project as bait to keep Niven down on the farm…  to the extent of  making Niven nervous by constantly seeing new pactee Dana Andrews wandering around the lot in an obvious Rafles suit! 
  22. Ray Milland, The Doctor Takes A Wife, 1939.  Written for Cary-Irene Dunne, played by Milland-Loretta Young.“There are actors in this town,” commented Louis Jourdan, “who made important careers for a long, long period just by taking the parts that Cary Grant turned down.”
  23. Joel McCrea, Foreign Correspondent, 1940.
    Cary was the sole Hollywood actor Alfred Hitchcock wanted to meet when producer David O Selznick imported him from London. At a private party at New York’s 21 club, star and artist hit it off within seconds. They were like brothers, each idolising the other: the ugly  one  for the other’s beauty, the narcissistic star for the fat man’s creativity.  Grant and Hitch – inside each man was the other.  For his second Hollywood venture, Hitchcock  – “fat, forty, and full of fire,” said his  producer, Water Wanger –  craved Grant  but he was proving   Only Angels Have Wings. Also rejected by Gary Cooper and Clark Gable, Hitch made do with McCrea while famously moaning: “I always end up with the next best.”

  24. Melvyn Douglas, Our Wife, 1940.  How a screen couple evolves…  Grant and Jean Arthur in 1938 became Grant and  Loretta Young in ’39,  Grant and Rita Hayworth in ’40… finally, Douglas and Ruth Hussey. Not the same chic-to-chic at all.

  25. Robert Montgomery, Mr and Mrs Smith, 1940.    When Alfred Hitchcock could not deliver Grant for Carole Lombard’s comedy, he looked at everyone from George Brent to Fredric March. Montgomery’s salary was $110,000 for eight weeks.  Hitch got $40,000 less for his 16 weeks.
  26. Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr Jordan, 1941.  Legendary Broadway producer Jed Harris wanted to film Harry Segall’s play with Cary Grant. Then, the horrible Columbia czar Harry Cohn took over – cheaply. He preferred lavishing big bucks on his Rita Hayworth vehicles. Even so, it became a good hit with Montgomery, borrowed from MGM.  (Grant  played it – but in a ’42 radip version). Cohn, being Cohn, made  use of various Jordan ideas in Rita’s Down to Earth, 1946, which was almost the planned sequel, Hell Bent for Mr Jordan – cancelled when Cohn could not reassemble the original cast. As producer, star and co-director,  Warren Beatty offered Grant  $1m – or anything he asked! –  to join  the 1977 re-make, using one of the alternate 1940 titles, Heaven Can Wait.

  27. Dennis O’Keefe, Week-End For Three, 1941.    Cary Grant and Irene Dunne – or Dorothy Comingore or Ruth Warrick –  became Dennis O’Keefe and Jane Wyatt in a downsized production when RKO couldn’t land Ginger Rogers as Mrs Grant.  Later that year, they teamed  up for the anti-Nazi Once Upon a Honeymoon  –  and again ten years in Monkey Business.

  28. Monty  Woolley, The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1941.    When the comedy tickled director Howard Hawks’ fancy, he naturally wanted Grant as the titular Sheridan Whiteside… Grant  (by now a US citizen) offered his proffered salary to the British relief fund However, the   public  insisted that  only Woolley could and should play his famous stage role. (Which is how Cary was free for Arsenic and Old Lace). Orson Welles wanted to direct and play Whiteside.  (And did so in a 1972 TVersion). John Barrymore could no longer remember his lines. Tests of Robert Benchley and Laird Cregar were respectively deemed “too mild-mannered”  and “overblown and extravagant,” by producer Hal Wallis. (Probably why Charles Coburn refused to test at all). Director William Keighley also saw Charles Laughton (in tears after two terrible tests), Fredric March… and Grant was still around.  “Far too young and attractive,” said Hal Wallis.  Anyway,  who’d be  upset if Cary Grant suddenly came to dinner?

  29. Fredric March, Bedtime Story, 1941.   It had been  March who first warned his pal Gary Cooper of the new guy, who, in his third film only, Merrily We Go To Hell, had impressed March in 1932. They later shared The Eagle and The Hawk, 1933, and here, Cary was up for roles played by March in Trade Winds, 1937, and here. (So were Henry Fonda and Lloyd Nola)n. Grant was also wanted for  another  Bedtime Story; same title, different atory. If you couldn’t get Cary in 1963,  who did you get?  Why, Brando, of course!).

  30. Paul Henreid, Joan of Paris, 1941.    Another Cary rejection in May, 1941,  leading to the Hollywood debut of not only the Austrian Henreid but the French Michèle Morgan.  Also up for the WWII French Resistance leader were fellow Frenchies Charles Boyer and Jean Gabin (Morgan’s co-star in  the classsic Le quai des brumes, 1938). Also, Hollywood;s Thomas Mitchell and –  rather surprisingly –   the unprepossessing Brit, Robert Morley.  Well, he had been  the French king Louis XVI in MGM’s Marie Antoinette in  1937.   

  31. Tyrone Power, Blood and Sand, 1941    Paramount  planned the re-make of Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 classic with Grant  as the matador and Tallulah Bankhead as the matter – she simply refused to be Doña Sol.  Cary made  Hot Saturday with room-mate Randolph Scott instead.  Fox took  over the bull-ring and co-starred Power and Linda Darnell for the fourth and last time.

  32. Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees, 1942.  
    Producer Samuel Goldwyn won the battle to make  a biopic of baseball great Lou Gehrig – who died at 40 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (wis why it’s now known as  Lou Gehrig’s Disease), after a moving farewell to his fans:  “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” His widow, Eleanor, wanted Cooper or Spencer Tracy to play Lou. They were not alone. Also on the mound before Cooper signed on were Grant, Eddie Albert, Brian Donlevy. Plus two other real sports heroes: ex-New York Yankee pitcher Waite Hoyt and middle-weight champion boxer Billy Soos. Gehrig appeared as himself in Rawhide, 1937, his only  film despite being listed by  producer Sol Lesser to head his Tarzan series.  Until seeing Lou’s legs. “More functional than decorative.”  At the 1942 Oscars, both Cary and Gary were nominated – for Penny Serenade and Sergeant  York.  Gary York won!

  33. Ray Milland, The Major and the Minor, 1942.    When you write your Hollywood directing debut for him and you can’t land him,  how do you replace Cary Grant? While driving home from Paramount, Billy Wilder stopped at the traffic lights – right next to Ray Milland in his car.  “I’m doing a picture. Would you like to be in it?” “Sure.” Wilder sent him the script, which Milland liked.  Next time Wilder called Milland it was for a Lost Weekend – and a Best Actor  Oscar on March 7, 1946.

  34. Joseph Cotten, Shadow Of  Doubt, 1942.   
    Even though he could not obtain his favourite  leading man  – and soul brother –  to  be the murderous Uncle Charlie, this always remained Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite Hitchcock movie. ‘We all know that,” I said when we finally met… when…  Hitch looked like  he was nodding off  after his good lunch.   Help!  What to do…?  “Hey,” I  said, “but what’s your second favourite?” He woke up,  didn’t even take time to blink.  “The Trouble With Harry,” he cried.  “But,” I yelled, “that’s my favourite!” From then on he loved me. The interview was a breeze – a terrific experience! Much of Doubt  was shot in Santa Rose, next door to San Francisco  – where years later I would interview another idol… 
    at #1, Snopoy Villas!  Charles   M Schulz.  The father of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts comic-strip gang.  Happy daze.

  35. Franchot Tone, Five Graves To Cairo, 1943.   As if he wasn’t having enough trouble casting Mouche (Ingrid Bergman, Simone Simon passed on the chambermaid), director and co-writer Billy Wilder couldn’t land Grant, either – for his hero, Corporal John J Bramble. Not for a location in Arizona at the height of summer, thank you very much.

  36. Gary Cooper, Saratoga Trunk, 1943.  Head bro Jack Warner shelled out #175,000 for the rights to the latest huge (ie rambling) novel by Edna Ferber – for yet another reunion of Errol Flynn-Olivia De Havilland.  Howard Hawks wanted to direct with pal Cary Grant as Colonel Clint Maroon. Or Richard Travis.  However,Sam Wood got the gig and used his Hemingwayesque couple from the previous year’s For Whom the Bell Tolls:  Cooper and Ingrid Bergman… as a Creole friom Sweden! In Hollywood, any accent is the right accent! . Trunk (a railroad’s main lIne) was shown to the GIs fighting WWII but delayed in the US until 1945. Sam’s assistant director was… Don Siegel.

  37. Robert Young, Claudia, 1943.    Finding her baffled husband was difficult. Don Ameche, 35, Cary Grant, 39, Franchot Tone, 38, were (already) too old for a “child bride.”  How salacious! Not really. She wasn’t Lolita but an immature 20-something aimed at Joan Fontaine, 26, Katharine Hepburn, 36, and Jennifer Jones, 24. Dorothy McGuire repeated her Broadway role at 27, opposite an old Young, 36. They were still together for the sequel, Claudia and David, 1946.  Snore!

  38. Bob Hope, They Got Me Covered, 1943.   Producer Sam Goldwyn asked Charles MacArthur to brush up the lame-brain spy for Cary.  MacArthur refused, suggesting it better suited Hope. “He can get away with more inconsistencies than Grant…” Hope lost thre films to Cary Grant:   His Girll Friday, 1939, Arsenic and Old Lace, 1941, Operation  Petticoat, 1959. They were both up for Frank Sinatra’s Nathan Detroit in  Guys and Dolls, 1955.    But   it would be a further 13 years from here before  Hope inherited a second  Grant vehicle – The Iron Petticoat, 1956.  

  39. Joel McCrea, The More The Merrier, 1943.    Director George Stevens was satisfied with McCrea-Jean Arthur.  Joel wasn’t and suggested Cary take his place.  No, Stevens wanted an all-American type.  Hah! Grant re-made it as his final film, Walk Don’t Run, 1966, but in Charles Coburn’s Oscared role.

  40. Robert Alda, Rhapsody In Blue, 1943.  The closest Grant came to making a musical  – from  the eleven he was offered. Before John Garfield tested, Clifford Odets had started writing his George Gershwin biopic for Cary, one of the composer’s friends.  Director Irving Rapper, who wanted Tyrone Power,  felt no one would believe Cary Grant was a composer.   Plus, he was not American enough.. When, in  fact, the film was not Gershwin enough!  Cary later played Cole Porter in Night  and Day which, likewise, was not Porter enough!  Both biopix  were as close to reality  as Tom & Jerry.  (Yes, Robert Alda is Alan’s father). 

  41. Rex Harrison, Blithe Spirit, 1944.    Testier than audiences would ever realise during Arsenic and Old Lace (particularly over the cutting of his last line: “I’m a bastard!”), Cary made it clear. He would have  preferred the Noel Coward piece.

  42. Gregory Peck, Spellbound, 1944.  For “just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis,” Alfred Hitchcock lost Grant and was unhappy with Peck. “I couldn’t produce the facial expressions that Hitch wanted,” recalld P3eck. “I didn’t have that facility. He had a preconception of what the expression ought to be… He planned that as carefully as the camera angles. Hitchcock was an outside fella, and I had the Stanislavski training from the Neighborhood Playhouse, which means you work from the inside.”

  43. George Brent, Experiment Perilous, 1944.  “Life is short,” said Hippocrates, “art is long, decision difficult, and experiment perilous.” So was this period thriller, although Jacques Tourneur fans adore it.  Cary quit when his 1942 Mr Lucky producer, David Hempstead, fled RKO.. Next: Gregory Peck.  Next? George Brent?!!

  44. Dennis Morgan, God Is My Co-Pilot, 1944. 
    Cary Grant was offered almost as many pilots as musicals – even one on  stage in Nikki and he was called Cary.  (He added Grant came from a list of short names  held by the Paramount boss). Warner’s first choice for the Colonel Robert Lee Scott Jr biopic was Gary Cooper.  Then, Grant or Humphrey Bogart… or even Scott, himself.  Scott was a WWII fighter pilot hero – his dream, since the age of eight. Naturally, the  USAF refused to release  Scott.  Because as you might remember, Hollywood…  there’s a war on!!  (A 1989 episode of the Coming of Age series, was called Todd Is My Co-Pilot).

  45. Willard Parker, One Way To Love, 1944.  Odd title for a tale of two radio scriptwriters. One good, the other not so much – but needing to get back in harness for a $1,000-per-week contract.  Parker beat Grant and Lee Bowman to the ace while the not so hot Chester Morris stole everything in sight. Including Dennis O’Keefe’s role.

  46. Ray Milland, Lost Weekend, 1944.   “I am not a drinker. I’m a drunk.” About the only time, director Billy Wilder did not want Grant.  Wilder wanted José Ferrer. The studio wanted Grant – or someone close. Now who on earth was close to Cary Grant?!   Without saying a word, Milland won the Oscar on March 7, 1946.The first Welsh actor to do so. Anthony Hopkins was the second, 46 years later.

  47. James Stewart,  It’s A Wonderful Life, 1946.

  48. John Ireland, Red River, 1946.   Howard Hawks lost his Cherry when  his pal passed on “the charming and impudent” cowboy. Westerns weren’t Grant’s thing and Cherry Valance was third banana to John Wayne.  And could Grant have survived the “Can I see it?… And you’d like to see mine!” routine of  Ireland and Montgomery Clift…. about their, er,  guns. Grant never did make a Western, although in his final years, Howard Hawks was planning one  for him as a consumptive dentist – Doc Holiday meets Walter Brennan.  Grant kept the grizzled galoot idea for his penultimate movie, Father Goose.  After the three films they did make. Hawks declared:  “Of the 16 hours a day when he’s awake I don’t think there are 20 minutes when he is not complaining. I’ve never seen a man more constantly in turmoil.”

  49. Clark Gable, The Hucksters, 1947.    Grant passed on ad man Vic Norman back from WWII and passed the script to Gable . The King was horrified.  “It’s filthy and it isn’t entertainment.”   And so Deborah Kerrl’s Hollywood debut was considerably watered down. Imagine Mad Men castrated.

  50. David Niven, The Bishop’s Wife, 1947. 
    Grant’s agent, Frank Vincent, was ill and Cary did his own dealing with producer Samuel Goldwyn… and was staggered when Sam  agreed to top billing, $300,000 and a slice of the action. Grant was soon offering to give it all back and  quit when Sam changed directors, had  Oscar-winner Robert Sherwood’s script re-spun (by Billy Wilder among others) and ordered Grant and David Niven  to swop roles.  “He was very upset,” said new director Henry Koster. despite Sam giving him  a further  $100,000 to stay. “He thought the bishop was much better than the angel – a straightforward, very self-assured man, while the bishop would be comically befuddled, one of Cary’s specialities.” Koster was stuck with two miserable stars contractually forced into unwanted  roles.  Niven, still recovering from the death of his wife, was the bishop and Grant, reported dead in an air crash with Howard Hughes some months before, was a “rather conceited, impudent, high-handed  magician” of an angel called Dudley – curiously re-christened Daniel in French-language dubbing. Denzel Washington had no problem about which role to play in the 1996 re-make. Cary’s.

  51. Gene Kelly, The Pirate, 1947.  MGM snapped up SN Behrman’s play for… let’s see now, more stars than in the heavens above…    So how about them Minivers: Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon? Or, Garson or Myrna Loy plus Cary Grant plus Charles Laughton (as Don Pedro Vargas!)…  Or, the Notorious Grant and Ingrid Bergman couple…  or William Powell and Hedy Lamarr?  Hey, we’re MGM!  Why not a musical? With Judy Garland and… er… John Hodiak? They got on real swell in The Harvey Girls. But he  can’t really sing ‘n’ dance? No prob – Judy and Gene Kelly! And so it came to pass. Uneasily… The Minnellis (an imploding Judy and her director  father Vincente) were at each other’s creative throats. LB Mayer ordered the Judy-Kelly Voodoo number was  too torrid! (Judy-Kelly were torrid?). In fact, LB hated it all, calling it high-brow and extremely pretentious. Which it was. But that’’s Kelly  – and Minnelli – in a nutshell. “Whatever I did looked like fake Barrymore and fake Fairbanks,” said Kelly Metro lost $2m. Including for the first time in any Hollywood budget, paying a shrink. For Judy.  

  52. Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement, 1947.  
    Moss Hart loses Grant,  Round One… Specifically for Cary, his old New York pal had adapted Laura Z Hobson’s anti-racism best-seller about a journalist posing as a Jew to investigate American anti-Semetism. Impossible, said Grant, because he was Jewish, looked Jewish and no Jew could satisfactorily play the role.  Hart understood; Clifford Odets did not, Grant had always told him he was not Jewish.  Hollywood remained baffled by  the claims.  Cary gave money to Jewish causes,  including $25,000 in 1947 to the new state of Israel in memory of his dead mother.  His father might have been Jewish, his official mother was not, though he could have been the illegitimate child of a Jewish woman friend of his presumed parents…

  53. Ronald Colman, A Double Life, 1947.  How to get the hicks into Shakespeare.  Get Garson Kanin  and his wife, Ruth Gordon, to pen a script about an actor being taken over by his role.  And that is Othello, who you might recall, slays his wife in a jealous fit….  The Kanins  wrote it for the finest Shakespearian around.  Olivier.  He was busy. (And next time, when  MGM chased him for the  Kiss Me Kate musical  based on The Taming of the Shrew). Two other options, after Olivier, were  Cary Grant or Ronald Colman, Cary was wary of the Bard section. As was  Colman.  He took a chance. And won an Oscar. Around this ime,  Hitch wanted to turn Hamlet into a modern-day thriller.  With Cary, of course.  “Too heavy for me,” he  said. Of course.
  54. Fred MacMurray, The Miracle of the Bells, 1947.   After James Cagney passed on the Hollywood flack hero (he wanted to produce, as well),  producer Jesse L Lasky chased Grant and Clark Gable. And settled for a MacMurray with “the air of an embalmer” (said the New York Times) in a limp and truncated version of Russell Janney’s novel.

  55. John Lund, A Foreign Affair, 1947.   “Lund,” explained writer-director Billy Wilder, “was the guy you got after you wrote the part for Cary Grant and Grant wasn’t available.” Lund was the meat in the Marlene Dietrich-Jean Arthur sandwhich. Dietrich was also unimpressed with “that piece of petrified wood.” And the suits never even noticed when, for fun, Wilder replaced Lund with Ray Milland in a take. “Maybe they thought it was Lost Weekend II.”

  56. Robert Ryan, Berlin Express, 1947.   Once Merle Oberon finished the film – and her affair with Ryan – she took the Queen Mary to New York. Grant, her fellow British secret agent (according to Charles Higham), was on the same boat – and while having tea with 15-year-old Liz Taylor he noticed an actress from a play he’d seen in London. He asked Oberon to introduced him to Betsy Drake – who became  his third wife.   (On  another sea voyage, Betsy survived the sinking off Nantucket of the SS Andrea Doria,  July 25, 1956; her lifeboat was rescued by the, Ile de France liner.

  57. Robert Montgomery, The Saxon Charm, 1947. Grant was sought for the selfish Broadway producer (think Jed Harris) when he and the rôle and the film were called The Charming Matt Saxon.

  58. James Stewart, Rope, 1948. For his first colour movie, Alfred Hitchcock tempted  fate by trying to convince Grant and Montgomery Clift to play (the implied) gay teacher and  gay student in the murder mystery ruined by  Hitch being more keen on up to ten-minute takes than the story. (He was inspired by Dallas Bower’s BBCtv production, circa 1939). The totally miscast Stewart disliked the film.   

  59. Lamberto Maggiorani, Ladri di biciclette (UK/US: Bicycle Thieves), Italy, 1948.  
    Hard to imagine that legendary producer David O Selznick could be such an oaf!   He suggested Cary for the luckless, Italian father looking for a job. “Now I think Cary Grant is a marvelous actor,” director Vittorio De Sica told the New York Times in 1973,  “I just couldn’t see him as an Italian working man,” said De Sica. “So,  I had to reject the offer.”  (Anyway, he preferred Henry Fonda).DOS quit and it was another two years before  De Sica raised a budget and made the timeless neo-realism classic his way. With amateurs. “There was much excitement about Maggiorani, –  Billy Wilder wanted to star him in an American movie. But after Wilder interviewed him, he realised that this man was no actor at all. I had made him seem to be an actor, because I myself am an actor and I know immediately how to get the things I want.”

  60. Montgomery Clift, The Heiress, 1948.     A firm fan of director William Wyler, Cary told the media that he wanted to be the heartless seducer from Henry James’ 1881 novel, Washington Square.  He was too old and wily Wyler preferred what he termed a more subtle acting style. Grant was not upset when learning Wyler had taken the villllainy out of the role.

  61. Joseph Cotten,

    WELCOME

    to the films the stars did not make. The movies that never were. The most definitive collation of casting stories. Check up on all the films - of yesterday, today and tomorrow - that your favourite stars never made... A cast of thousands - 8,063 actors - to click on... More than 40 years in the making! And 2,777,633 words of spirited text.

    The ultimate in movie trivia ... Better! Exactly the kind of history that Hollywood deserves. Back to front. Upside-down. Inside out. Full of flashbacks, close-ups, tracking shots (and, alas some badly edited sequences - sorry about that!) forming a fascinating, new and often bizarre flip-side perspective on your treasured movies and stars

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    A Work in Progress

    © CRAWLEY'S CASTING CALLS
    Tony Crawley 2024

    Maintenance by: The Story Works

    TC by GM - back in the day when this fetish started. 

    HE SAID

    “They’re doing stuff, but not with me. I’m not doing any more.” – Adam Driver on no more Kylo Ren/Ben Solo ... Or is it that there will be no more Star Wars?

    “I’ve been acting for 42 years and  then you make one cocktail…”  – Stanley Tucci on his new fame as  a TV food and cookery expert.

    "The point is it's very hard work and you have to really want to do it. It has to be something that you're burning to say." – Martin Scorsese on directing at 80 and thinking  “possibly only one more”.

    “Whether you are a competent actor, or an artist, is incidental. The main business is: you’re product. I had a hard time steadying myself against that stuff.” – Robert Redford.

    “I’ve never done the same thing twice and how many people can say that?” – Tom Hanks… forgetting his two successive Oscars.

    “I was so excited when I got the script for Silent Night. There’s no dialogue in the entire movie! I thought this would be very good for me because it lets me use my gifts for telling a story visually. – John Woo on his Hollywood comeback at 77.

    “I’ve gotta be nice about Marvel movies, because I named myself after a Stan Lee character named Luke Cage. What am I going to do, put Marvel movies down? Stan Lee is my surrealistic father.” – Nic Cage.

    “The man who invented mornings was no Christian.” – Peter O’Toole.

    “The moustache did the acting.” –  Anthony Hopkins on Howards End.

    “It’s very difficult to get 100 million people to watch anything,” – writer-director Joe Russo.

    “I gave him a little part in Looper, where he got to be shot in the face by Bruce Willis. He was just so overjoyed… like a little kid.” – director Rian Johnson on his father.

    “I'm not an actor - and I've got 64 films to prove it!” – Victor Mature.

    “If you cast it right, you don’t have to tell the actors what to do.” – John Huston.

    CCC CLIPS

    >> Name Game. James Spader really started something with his Blacklist series. He played – remember? – Reddington. And now we have Austin Butler and, Emma Stone are in making Eddington… and newbie Glenn Powell is Huntingdon, his tenth gig since Top Gun: Maverick. Perhaps it’s time to re-issue Carrington… with, among others, Steven Waddington!

    >> Christopher Nolan says “No, sadly no – no truth to those rumours.” About making the next Bond. So, no Cillian Murphy as Jimbo, then?

    >> Rolling Stone. Those Poor Things, Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe, are – naturally – in the next release of their Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. It’s Emma’s third Yorgos collaboration. Most likely she’ll be in his next one, too, a re-make of the South Korean hit, Save the Green Planet. That was a comedy. But one can never categorise a Lanthimos experience. After all this one was first titled… And.

    >> Taylor Swift’s guy, US football superstar Travis Kelce, is making moves on movies. To be as famous as Dwayne Johnson. Although people are now beginning to ask: Dwyane Whosis?

    >>Brandon Routh was Superman back in the day. Today he’s in…Ick.

    >> A star sure was born! Lady Gaga now getting $10million for Joker 2

    >> Sean Ono Lennon says Emma Stone should play his dad. Now there’s a thought. After all, Cate Blanchett played  Bob Dylan…

    >> Sly Stallone has come this far without bothering with serial killers but that’s what he’s chasing  in The Epiphany. He plays a retiring cop - what else at 78?

    >> Thirty years after the first, Neve Campbell returns in Scream 7. She refused  #6 over a money row…

    >> Beatles director Sam Mendes made Skyfall and Spectre and another actor who has played John Lennon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, might yet be the next 007…

    >> Ryan Gosling tipped to be join the Marvelverse. (They need him more than he them). Henry Cavill may follow – so definitely no Bond then. Not after Argylle. If anyone witnessed that accident, could they call the  appropriate authorities.

    >> Will Smith comes back (or so he hopes) in an almost suicide squad blasting drug dealers in Sugar Bandits… while Colin Farrell settles for just Sugar – back to his usual smoothie looks after The Penguin…

    >> White Lotus 3 resurrects Parker Posey, Walton Goggins, Jason Isaacs, Charlotte Le Bon, Scott Glenn and introduces Patrick Schwarzenegger.  But which one is going to flash…something?