Dana Andrews

  1. George Montgmery, Roxie Hart, 1941.  According to a September 1941 Fox conference, exec producer Darryl F Zanuck suggested Andrews or John Shepperd as Chicago crime reporter Homer Howard… who weds the titular Ginger Rogers after her trial for murder in the musical dedicated to “all the beautiful women in the world who have shot their men full of holes out of pique.”
  2. Van Johnson, Dr Gillespie’s New Assistant, 1942.   MGM dropped Lew Ayres as Dr Kildare when he announced he was a conscientious objector to WWII. The studio – and Lionel Barrymore’s Dr Gillespie – immediately started hunting a new assistant… from Andrews, Rod Cameron, Charles Drake, Cornel Wilde. And, ironically, Larry Parks – a 50s’ blacklist victim, as much as poor Ayres was in the 40s. In all, Johnson made four films as Dr Red Adams to close the series – but the much trumpeted Dr Gillespie’s Lady Doctor never happened.
  3. Preston Foster, Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air, 1942.     Two years before their classic teaming in Laura, Andrews and Gene Tiernery were due for romantics in what Fox first called A Tommy in the USA… as a companion piece to A Yank in the RAF. (It wasn’t).
  4. Dennis O’Keefe, The Story of Dr Wassell, 1943.     When first choices Alan Ladd and Robert Preston joined the real WWII… Andrews, Alan Baxter, James Brown, Michael O’Shea, Walter Reed, Barry Sullivan, Richard Whorf were also seen for Hoppy Hopkins, the wounded sailor inspired to live by the love of Carol Thurston’s native nurse, Tremartini, inevitably nicknamed Three Martini.
  5. William Eythe, The Eve of St Mark, 1943. Good slice of propaganda – or “morale booster,” as critics dubbed it – based on Maxwell Anderson’s Broadway hit, following a small town’s hero called… Quizz.    
  6. Vincent Price, The Keys of the Kingdom, 1944.     In the mix for Angus Mealy, old friend of the unorthodox Chinese missionary Father Francis Chisholm – Gregory Peck’s breakthrough role.
  7. John Hodiak, A Bell from Adano, 1944.    Fox house-star Andrews and bigger A stars – James Cagney, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy – jockeyed to be Major Joppolo (in reality, Lieutenant Colonel Frank E Toscani) running a WWII damaged Italian town requiring a new town bell. In John Hersey’s book, Joppolo supplied a modest ship’s bell. In Hollywood, it was a full blown carillon.
  8. Gregory Peck, The Keys of the Kingdom, 1944.      In  June 1943 the Hollywood Reporter had  Andrews  “under consideration”  for the pious Father Francis Chisholm.  By July, Peck signed on – and won his first Oscar nomination in his second (yawn) outing.  Rivals for the role included Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, Gene Kelly, Spencer Tracy, Orson Welles… plus the most unlikely Catholic missionaries of all: Alan Ladd and Edward G Robinson!
  9. Robert Young, Those Endearing Young Charms, 1944.     Producer Sam Goldwyn bought the Jerome Chodorov play for Andrews and Teresa Wright… or Joan Fontaine. He then sold it RKO, where director Lewis Allen chose Young and Laraine Day.
  10. George Montgomery, The Brasher Doubloon, 1946.    Andrews, Fred MacMurray. Victor Mature and John Payne were in the frame when Fox gave the case back to Philip Marlowe – having first adapted Raymond Chandler’s The High Window in 1941 as Lloyd Nolan’s seventh and final outing as Brett Halliday’s shamus, Michael Shayne. Akin to Batman borrowing a Superman story.

  11. David Niven, The Bishop’s Wife, 1947.  Producer Sam Golwyn stopped everything, changed directors, had Oscar-winner Robert Sherwood’s script respun (by Billy Wilder among others) and ordered Cary Grant and David Niven to swop roles.  And the legend follows that if Niven wasn’t happy about wearing  a mitre,  Andrews would do it.
  12. Richard Widmark, Slattery’s Hurricane, 1948.  The film that gave birth to in-flight movies…  According to the LA Times, July 19,1948,  Fox pactees Andrews and Tyrone Power  were  up for theshifty, selfish anti-heroLieutenant Will Slattery. And according to co-star Veronica Lake’s autobiography, the film movies when premieredfor 86 people  aboard the US Navy’spride and joy, the  90-ton giant Constitution aircraft, during a three hour flight  (lunch included) circling around Manhattan.
  13. Robert Preston, Tulsa, 1948.    When he couldn’t afford Andrews or Robert Mitchum, producer Walter Wanger searched for someone fitting his pocket. 
  14. Richard Conte, Thieves’ Highway, 1948.    As titles switched from The Red of My Blood (for the manuscript) to Hard Bargain, Collision and Thieves’ Market (for the published novel), so did the hero – vengeful trucker Nick Garcos. From Mature (who did not want another hood) and Andrews to Conte.

  15. Gregory Peck, Twelve O’Clock High, 1948.      
    The  greatest Hollywood fiction of USAF WWII pilots, often unfairly compared to the  weaker Command Decision – which is why Peck nearly passed.  “Duke told me he’d turned it down,” recalledPeck.  “And I seized it!”   Just not that fast… Clark Gable was extremely keen on General Savage (he made Command Decision, instead). Peck read it again and  was also won over by director Henry King’s empathy for the subject. King was a pilot, himself, and he  would helm five more Peck  films). “A fine film,” said Peck, “much honoured  and  respected,  about the psychological stress of total involvement of these men.” Too honest for such a gung-ho movie-hero as John Wayne. This was Peck’s finest hour; forget To Kill A Mockingbird.   Seeing him glued to his chair in a catonic state of battle-fatigue made one helluva impression on me when I saw it in, hell, I was 11 years old!  It marked me for life.  It also affected Rian Johnson, who called it an influence on his Star Wars:  Episode VII – The Last Jedi, 2016. Others in the Savage loop were Dana Andrews, Ralph Bellamy, James Cagney, Van Heflin, Burt Lancaster, Edmond O’Brien – and three-bobs-worth of  Roberts: Montgomery, Preston and Young.

  16. Glenn Ford, Secret of Convict Lake, 1950.    Director Michael Gordon changed his escaped con from Andrews to Ford in the Western. Who cares. All eyes – particularly Ford’s and his enemy Zachary Scott’s – were on Gene Tierney.  She, of course, was Andrews’ celebrated co-star, Laura, in 1943. 
  17. Richard Widmark, Halls of Montezuma, 1950.     Change of top brass, from Andrews and Paul Douglas to Widmark and Reginald Gardiner, as director Lewis Milestone goes to WWII – again. Try as he mght – Our Russian Front, Edge of Darkness, The North Star, The Purple Heart, Arch of Truth – nothing could match his 1929 classic: All Quiet on the Western Front.
  18. Victor Mature, Androcles and the Lion, 1951.     Changes were made after Andrews had been shooting for about three weeks.
  19. Victor Mature, Song of the Islands,  1941.    Once Joan Davis and Alice Faye were bypassed (in ’37 and ’38), it was always going to be Betty Grable as Eileen.  But who for her Irish beau on the tropical isle of Ahmi-Oni? Ameche, Robert Cummings, John Payne – or Mature, the new kid on the Fox block, who looked and sounded as Irish as Cheetah. Victor Mature, My Gal Sal, 1941. Fox stars Ameche and George Montgomery were shunted aside by new boy Mature as novelist Theodore Dreiser’s songwriter brother Paul Dresser. (Yes, their surnames are different). Fox suits felt it  bad for  Ameche (ie for Fox) to play another composer after being Stephen Foster in 1939’s Swanee River. The censors fretted more over Dresser’s “sex affairs.”   Is there any other kind worth having? 



 Birth year: 1909Death year: 1992Other name: Casting Calls:  19