Gary Cooper


  1. John Wayne, The Big Trail, 1930.    Big break for Wayne, and such a flop  his career remained in the B-toilet  for eight more years until his 80th film made him: Stagecoach, also spurned by Cooper.   In all but eleven  films  Duke Wayne had the lead, thus holding the record for the actor with the most leading parts – 142.  And damn nearly all the same!
  2. Victor  McLaglen, Dishonoured, 1931.   Having battled through Morocco with Marledne Dietrich, that was enough of director Josef von Sternberg, thank you!  And poor Marlene was saddled with McLaglen who, as Steven Bach put it “belonged in a poolroom, not a bedroom.”
  3. Chester Morris, The Miracle Man, 1932.    After City Streets, Paramount saw a team in Cooper-Sylvia Sidney.  He did not – when the studio rushed up a re-make  of Lon Chaney’s 1919  silent hit. Cooper was replaced by Fredric March,  dropped for Chester Morris as miracles hit B-movie proportions.
  4. Cary Grant, Blonde Venus, 1932.  Coop,  the reigning star at Paramount,    was romping through a Euro “rest cure” (ie. romancing Countess Dorothy di Frasso when  pal Fredric March bwarned him  about  Paramount’s new Cooper”… scoring and succeeding with various Coop projects. None of the top male stars wanted to mess with the first of a three film deal for Marlene Dietrich-Josef von Sternberg.  .  Grant sad Von Sternberg taught him something important on  the first day.  “Your hair is parted on the wrong side.”
  5. Cary Grant, Hot Saturday, 1932.   Cooper rushed home. To see Grant promoted promoted by studio chief BP Schulberg from the lowly  Bill Fadden, to the lead or Romer Sheffield, another playboy (as in Blonde Venus), instead of his elders: Cooper or March. .“See, I told you about  this guy!” rasped March.  In his  first top-billing, Grant  was hailed by the New York Herald Tribune as ““a Gable-esque leading man.” Fadden became Cary’s  house-mate, Randolph Scott. 
  6. Cary Grant, Madame Butterfly, 1932,  Grant’s director pal, the Russian-born Marion Gering, asked him for a favour. Cooper had fled, would he take over as Lieutenant Pinkerton.  Sure would… And it was during this shoot  that Mae West saw him walking through the Paramount lot.  “He’s gorgeous,” she said.  “If this one can talk, I’ll take him.”   He could talk. Hence, She Done Him, Wrong and twogether again in I’m No Angel – saving Paramount from bankruptcy. He was on the verge of stardom in Blonde Venus (also rejected by Coop), Mae simply led him across the verge.  She done him right.
  7. Cary Grant, The Eagle and the Hawk, 1932. Grant was furious at being ordered to take  over when Gary Cooper quit being the WWI flying ace Henry Crocker.  Grant  thought he was level-pegging with Coop and shouldn’t be shuffled about  at Paramount  now  (he’d surpass Coop  in a year due  to his double act with Mae West). Grant was a pilot, the first of many played and/or offered. As was Fredric March. Carole Lombard was The Girl. 
  8. Leslie Howard, Secrets, 1932.    Mary Pickford’s last hurrah had little to hurrah about. As producer and, of course star, she  wanted the nine-year younger Gary Cooper as her lover. Instead, she had Kenneth MacKenna for the much troubled re-hash of Norma Talmadge’s silent hit, Forever Yours,1923.  Mary fired director Marshall Neilan for being drunk on-set and after getting through $4.5m in today’s currency, she shut everything down, changed much of the cast and got Frank Borzage to finish it.
  9. George Raft, Pick-Up, 1933.    When he refused again to work with the boss’  mistress, Sylvia Sidney, Paramount chief BP Schulberg hit back by loaning Cooper to MGM for Today We Live for a rare double.  In a single year, Coop starred in the first filmed works of William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway.
  10. Bing Crosby, She Loves Me Not, 1933.     Coop was not keen on having to sing I’m Hummin’, I’m Whistlin’, I’m Singin’ and, of course, Love in Bloom. Enter Der Bingle, crooning away with Kitty Carlisle…. future wife (1946-1961) of Broadway icon Moss Hart.  

  11. Bing Crosby, Here Is My Heart, 1933.   Take two… More songs, more objections. Booked with Elissa Landi, Coop ran to cover to avid being a famous singer (!), disguised as a waiter to be close to his dream girl, Euro Princess Alexandra.   Bing Crosby and Kitty Carlisle subbed. Again.
  12. Fred MacMurray, Men Without Names, 1934. Re-writing delays, ruled out MacMurray and Claudette Colbert as our Justice Department heroes. Unless, of curse, they didn’t fancy the alternate title. Federal Dick.
  13. Cary Grant, The Last Outpost, 1935.    Grant swipes yet another Coop project.   Paramount  wanted a quickie sequel to The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, but Coop  and director Henry Hathaway said once was enough.  Told to  toughen up, Grant grew a moustache… and looked like a third  Fairbanks.
  14. Henry Fonda, The Farmer Takes A Wife, 1935.    Hollywood rarely used the original stars of the Broadway shows.  Janet Gaynor was given June Walker’s role, but with Cooper and Joel McCrea tied up, Fonda scrapped into his debut.
  15. Fred McMurray, Hands Across The Table, 1935.    The obvious first Paramount choice for Theodore Drew III. Next?  Ray Milland. But he  was scared of comedy, so  director Mitchell Leisen played McSafe.
  16. Paul Muni, Dr Socractes, 1935.    Coop did not feel it was him. Paramount let it go to Warners.
  17. George Raft, The Glass Key, 1935.    Quit to take over Peter Ibbetson from Brian Aherne.
  18. Joel McCrea,  Barbary Coast, 1935.  Poor McCrea had a zero role, just watching as Edward G Robinson stole everything but the saloon piano. Wild Bill Wellman was to begin shooting in the Spring of ’34 with Cooper and Gloria Swanson. By May, it was Coop and Anna Sten. In  January ’35, producer Sam Goldwyn shelved his project, fearful of censor hassles and, anyway, he has lost Cooper back home to Paramount.  The couple became McCrea and the Paramount boss BP Schulberg’s favourite, Miriam Hopkins.
  19. John Boles, Rose of The Rancho, 1936.    With lavish trade ads in May 1940, Paramount announced the talkie re-tread of Cecil B DeMille’s 1914 film with  Coop opposite  Rosita Moreno, Lillian Roth. Instead, he took The Spoilers from George Bancroft.
  20. Ronald Colman, A Tale of Two Cities, 1936.   A far, far better thing that he wanted to do.  He even did  costume tests in 1931. Paramount passed it to MGM.

  21. George  Brent, The Case Against Mrs Ames, 1936.    Carole Lombard  also  said  no and so it became the case against Madeleine Carroll.
  22. Fred MacMurray, The Texas Rangers, 1936.     Booked for King Vidor’s Western, Coop left Hollywood with Jackie Oakie for the New Mexico locations on May 2, 1936. and promptly quit when producer Samuel Goldwyn started talking Maximilian of  Mexico with Merle Oberon.  That’s all Sam did. Talk.
  23. Fred MacMurray, Swing High, Swing Low, 1937.   This time the Samuel Goldwyn  talk  took  off: The Adventures of Marco Polo. And MacMurray swung into Coop’s place.   Brainging his home-made sandwiches for lunch, as usual.
  24. Fredric March, The Buccaneer, 1937. The story of Jean Lafitte, a “privateer” ally of Andrew Jackson. holding Louisiana against the British at the Battle ofl New Orleans.  Cooper was booked for  Sam Goldwyn version, making Sam’s ex-partner, Cecil B DeMille, work faster  with March, to win The Battle of Sam Goldfish  CB tried to get Ernst Lubitsch to play Napoleon – way too camera-shy. So the role was dropped.
  25. Clark GableGone With The Wind, 1939.
  26. John Wayne, Stagecoach, 1938.    Producer Walter Wanger wanted Coop and Dietrich.  “Too expensive for us,” said John Ford. “Gary was on the fence about it,”  reported Coop’s wife,  Rocky.  “I read it and advised him to turn it down. Stagecoach…! It made a star out of John Wayne [in his 80th film!]but we turned it down.”  (We?) She was not alone. Errol Flynn and Joel McCreas also fled.Coop never made the same mistake again. He immediately accepted Capra’s Meet John  Doe, sight unseen. “Frank, I don’t need a script.”
  27. Ronald Colman, The Light That Failed,  1938.    Tailored for him in l935, but he was still hooked by Goldwyn.
  28. James Stewart, Destry Rides Again, 1938.   “I came cheaper than Coop!” Cooper and Joel McCrea were first saddled up as The Man from Montana (working title), until it was decided to wait for Stewart to wrap Mr  Smith Goes to Washington and tackle his first Western – leading to an  affair with co-star Marlene Dietrich, ending  in an abortion.  She was 38, he was 31Producer Joe Pasternak didn’t think Jim could hack Cooper’s role of a man avenging his father’s murder, “so made my character someone who becomes a deputy… who doesn’t believe in wearing a gun… The critics didn’t realise it… but it was really a satire on the kind of Western that Tom Mix used to make.”
  29.  Joel McCrea, Union Pacific, 1939.    “You’re better off with Cooper,” McCrea told Cecil B De Mille.  “I love Cooper. But he’s committed at Warners and Goldwyn.”   And so, as if McCrea had not already made 45 movies, CB announced to his cast, crew and 75 extras on the first day: “My former newsboy is now my star.”
  30. William Holden, Arizona, 1939.    The novel’s hero, Peter Muncie, was scripted for Coop. He said “Nope!” Apparently he’d had enough of Jean Arthur (after The Plainsman and Mr Deeds Goes To Town, 1935). Next choices, Joel McCrea and James Stewart, further  proved that Holden, the new golden boy was as an anonymous New York Times critic phrased it, not “yet sufficiently far from knee-pants to seem credible as [Arthur’s]  protective knight in armour.”  He was 22, she 40.

  31. James Stewart, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, 1938. 
    Before  Frank Capra and James Stewart  rescued it, the Lewis R. Foster story was producer Harold Wilson’s project for Ralph Bellamy (!).   That’s when it was known variously as The Gentleman from Montana and The Gentleman from Wyoming – just as  Capra first intended Mr Deeds Goes to Washington.  Mr Smith was always Mr Deeds to Mr Capra…   but  he could not lasso Cooper again. And  then saw more credibility in Mr Stewart’s  age (younger) principles (strong) and talent (impeccable). “I felt that in many ways, Mr Smith was James Stewart.   I also felt that, considering the  filibuster scene, Stewart was better equipped technically as an actor.” 

  32. Raymond Massey, Abe Lincoln In Illinois, 1939.  Coop as Abe?  Yep!  Nope, declared Robert E Sherwood. He’d written his play for Massey and insisted he repeat the role on-screen – or no sale! For too long a time Massey never got out of character, dressing and talking like Lincoln in real life. So much so, his friend George S Kaufman, another playwright, observed: “Massey won’t be satisfied until someone assassinates him.”
  33. James Stewart, The Philadelphia Story, 1940.    Katharine Hepburn held all the cards – the rights, too – and  required  “two marvellous  actors who were also stars.”  Her first  demands at MGM were  Gable  and  Tracy. then  Errol Flynn at Warners   or Coop at Paramount. Producer Sam Goldwyn offered her director William Wyler and Cooper to co-star. Coop  was not pleased as being passed over for Grant, saying  his rival was too pretty to be chucked out by a wife. (Didn’t he  read the papers!).
  34. Henry Fonda, The Grapes of Wrath, 1940.    Producer Sam Goldwyn’s West Coast  story editor, Edwin Knopf, begged him to buy Steinbeck’s book for Cooper. Goldwyn  disliked its “gloom and the sordidness of the background and the people plus  a pro-Communist indication.”  He  told Lilian Hellman,  who longed to script it: “Let Zanuck make a mess of it.” Yeah, like  seven Oscar nominations and two winners: John Ford, Jane Darwell.
  35. Ronald  Colman, The  Light  That  Failed, 1940.    Robert Montgomery also dropped the Rudyard Kipling piece.
  36. Joel McCrea, Foreign Correspondent, 1940.    Hitchcock wanted Cary Grant.  Of course, he did.  As to be proved soon enough by Suspicion and Notorious, they were soul brothers – inside each was the other. Grant was already filming, Cooper and Clark Gable turned down the fat Englishman and he made do with McCrea (“the poor mann’s Gary Cooper”) while famously moaning: “I always end up with the next best.”  Not always. ..”  Years later,  Coop told Hitch: “That was  a mistake.  I  shoulda  done it.”
  37. Robert Cummings, Saboteur, 1941.     Hitchcock was mad. Not even he could muster who he wanted: Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck and Harry Carey as the villain. Of course he was mad. He felt (correctly) that Cummings was more light comedy material.. not very Hitchcockian. Apart from a few sections, notably the Statue of Liberty climax,the same could be said of the over-talky, propaganda thriller.Coop’s last film, The Wreck of the Mary Deare, 1959, was a longtime Hitch project, dropped by him for being too close to his Marie Celeste project.
  38. Henry Fonda,The Ox-Bow Incident, 1942.  Director  William Wellman loved the book (by Walter Van Tilburg Clark.  But producer  Harold Hurley had the rights with   the absurd idea of turning the grim drama about the lynching of three innocent drifters in the Old West into a Mae West vehicle… as a saloon chanteuse-hostess! Fortunately, Hurley was sacked by Paramount and needed money, so he sold his rights to Wellman who helmed  what Clint Eastwood and Sam Fuller always revered as the finest Western ever made. When Cooper refused the movie, Henry Fonda grabbed it and, without knowing he had one, made full use of his Stanislavskian affective (or sense)  memory. At  age 14, Hank had witnessed, the lynching of the black Will Brown during race riots in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 28, 1919. After shooting, Fonda joined WWII in the US Navy until 1946.He called Ox-Bow and The Grapes of Wrath were his favourite movies from his largely unhappy days at Fox.
  39. Joel McCrea, The Great Moment, 1942.  Three years earlier, Henry Hathaway was due to direct Cooper in the biopic of Dr William Thomas Green Morton, the Boston dentist who invented anaesthetics in 1844. But Cooper quit Paramount. The good doctor was given lo Walter Huston who, passed him  to McCrea.  Far from  the usual Preston Sturgis comedy and the studio hated the ending (WTGM  died a disgraced pauper) and re-cut it for a 1942 release, ending – as it were – in the middle!
    olonel Robert Lee Scott Jr. Then, Bogie or Cary Grant… or even Scott, himself.  Colonel Sott was a WW11 USAF fighter pilot hero – his dream, since the age of eight. (A 1989 episode of the Coming of Age series, was called Todd Is My Co-Pilot).
  40. Don Ameche, Happy Land, 1943.     Howard Hawks was busily passing on several potential Cooper vehicles – The Pride of the Yankees, Saratoga Trunk, The Hard Way, China Sky, etc – so by the time he found something for them, Coop was way too busy. And Irving Poicel made the movie with Ameche.

  41. Cary Grant, Destination Tokyo, 1943.  The only Cary Grant film  without a leading lady…! Captain Cassidy of the the USS Copperfin was supposed to be Cooper, Grants old Paramount rival. He quit and Grant gladly took over the WWII submarine thriller and insisted that co-scripter Delmar Daves should direct… Tony Curtis always said this was the movie that lit his fuse’’ Sixteen years later, Curtis was hot and asked by Universal what he wanted to do next  (anything to keep him at the studio). “A service comedy about submarines,” said Curtis. Fine, nodded the suits, we’ll get Chandler or Robert Taylor for the captain. “No,” said Curtis. “Cary Grant or nobody.”  It became Cary’s  most successful movie. 
  42. Humphrey Bogart, Sahara, 1943.     Cooper refused the WWI desert film, and Sergeant Joe Gunn was given to Melvyn Douglas, then Brian Donlevy. However, he was fed up of war and swoppped gigs with Bogie, taking over his comedy, Once Upon A Time. Not for long. Cary Grant replaced him.
  43. Robert Cummings, Princess O’Rourke, 1943.   When Coop refused Eddie O’Rourke, Cummings was signed,  Obviously. Because in shape and style, Cooper and Cummings wewe like two peas in a pod.  If it was a Martian pod. 
  44. Burgess Meredith, Story of GI Joe, 1943. Pulitzer Prize-winning US WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle was revered by his public as saint, seer and common man.  So producer Lester Cowan naturally first thought of Coop or Fred Astaire, then James Gleason or Fred MacMurray. Plus two total amateurs: Pittsburgh radio sports jock, Albert Kennedy “Rosey” Rosewell, and an Ernie clone called John M Waldeck: a streetcar conductor nominated for the role by 1,200 St Louisians. Pyle voted for Meredith, a serving US Army captain at the time. Pyle never saw the film – he was killed during the 1945 Okinawa invasion two months before the premiere. 
  45. Alexander Knox, Wilson, 1944.    Coop and Hank were considered for the White House, but the Canadian Knox was finally elected as 28th US President Woodrow Wilson. (Just no mention of him supporting the Ku Klax Klan). The result was such a major flop that its loving producer Darryl F Zanuck banned everyone talking to him about his paean to the “pre-FDR.” Coop never played a POTUS, true or false, in his 119 movies; Fonda played three (including Abraham Lincoln).
  46. Dennis Morgan, God Is My Co-Pilot, 1944. 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).
  47. John Hodiak, A Bell from Adano, 1944.    Fox house-star Andrews and bigger A stars – Cooper, James Cagney, 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. Rather like the difference  between Hodiak and Cooper.
  48. John Wayne, Red River, 1946.    Not for me said Cooper.  Too hard, hostile, ruthless.  Watching Wayne’s work while Howard Hawks was editing shook Duke’s other great director, John Ford.“Never knewthe big sumafabitch could act.”
  49. Gregory Peck, The Macomber Affair, 1946. Sam Goldwyn, director Howard Hawks, director Victor Fleming and Cooper talked about producing the Ernest Hemingway tale in 1941. Five years later, director Zoltan Korda’s chose Peck for the hunter based on Bror Blixen – aka  Klaus Maria Brandauer in Out of Africa, 1985.  Safari scenes were shot on Kenya, the rest of Africa was played by Mexico.
  50. Spencer Tracy, State of the Union, 1947.  Mr Smith Goes To The White House? Well no. Coop sided with Clark Gable about not running for US President… for the film-maker they both owed so much to: Frank Capra. Coop’s name came up when MGM refused to part with Gable – Capra had hoped to reunite Gable and “Frankie Froggie” (Tracy’s name for Claudette Colbert), his 1934 Oscar-winning duo from It Happened One Night. Finally, Tracy said it was about time he worked with Frank Capra -– which obviously omeant Katharine Hepburn, as well … in the  the third of their nine films.

  51. John Wayne, Red River, 1948.      “Take ’em to Missouri, Matt!”  Like Cary Grant, Coop  found the hero –and villain –  Ted Dunson  too brutal. But then Duke never considered Coop a great actor. “He never enters the skin of his characters.”  And Duke did? 
  52. James Stewart, Harvey, 1949.   Playwright Mary Chase had final approval of the movie’  Elwood P Dowd, an alcoholic who sees and relates to an invisible giant rabbit called Harvey. Stewart and Joe E Brown were the only con tenders  who had played the role on-stage (Jim never stopped reviving the play in the UK and US!).  Other potential Elwoods were: Cooper, Jack Benny, James Cagney, Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Jack Haley (The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz),  even the silent   era comic Harold Lloyd and crooner Rudy Vallee. In 2000, another Harvey –  the later disgraced New York producer Harvey Weinstein planned a re-tread. With Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler  or John Travolta. Spielberg as well. With classier choices. Tom Hanks or Robert Downey Jr.
  53. Kirk Douglas, The Big Sky, 1951.      Cooper was wanted until Howard Hawks decided he was too old for the book he paid $30,000 for.
  54. Norman Wooland, Ivanhoe, 1951.   MGM had been trying to film the novel by 19th Century author Sir Walter Scott, ever since… 1935! The title was a place not a person: the gallant Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe.  That was to be Fredric March opposite Loretta Young as Lady Rowena, while King Richard was unbelievably aimed at Gary Cooper. Yup!  (The unmade 1938 choices were Robert Taylor, Myrna Loy and King,…Clark Gable!).
  55. Danny Kaye, Hans Christian Anderson, 1952.   “This is not the story of this life, but a fairy tale about this great spinner of fairy tales…” Producer Sam Goldwyn somehow first thought of Cooper as Anderson opposite Merle Oberon in 1939 – when David Daniel Kaminski was 26 and making his Broadway debut. The road from Coop to Kaye remains difficult to explain – but it turned left at Van Johnson.
  56. Robert Taylor, Westward The Women, 1952. Director legend Frank Capra wrote his sole Western for Cooper but Frank’s new home, Paramount, rejected all of Capra’s five projects (including Roman Holiday), for being above the $1.5m budget ceiling. Coop made one of them for Allied Artists, Friendly Persuasion, 1956. And Capra sold this one to his neighbour.  Wild Bill Wellman.
  57. Richard Burton, The Robe, 1952.   Five toppermost stars were discussed for the centurion hero, Marcellus Gallio… totally regardless of age! From Spencer Tracy at 52 to Gregory Peck at 26. Plus Cooper, 51; Laurence Olivier, 45; Robert Taylor, 41.   Burton was… 25.
  58. Frank Lovejoy, House of Wax, 1952.    When hunting a new Cooper vehicule, difrector André De Toth found Mystery of the Wax Museum. Not as Vincent Price’s maniac, of course, but the cop chasing him in 3D -Detective Lieutenant Tom Brennan.
  59. John Wayne, The High and the Mighty, 1953.    Producer John Wayne tried Coop, Henry Fonda and Spencer Tracy for the veteran pilot and then said: “Aw hell, I’ll do it myself.” Superbly. A calm pro playing a calm pro – and cutting five of his close-ups in the editing. Everyone else, especially Jan Sterling and Claire Trevor were working for Oscars. Didn’t get ’em.
  60. James Mason,  A Star Is Born, 1954.

  61. Robert Ryan, House of Bamboo, 1954.     Like every other 50s’ producer, Buddy Adler wanted Cooper. IMPOSSIBLE,” growled maverick auteur Samuel Fuller, who invariably growled in CAPITALS. “I’m shooting with HIDDEN CAMERAS on the streets of Tokyo – where everyone knows Cooper. They’ll MOB him. HE CAN’T BE INCOGNITO!”
  62. Robert Mitchum, Night Of The Hunter,  1954.   Charles Laughton’s crazy notion… with YEP! and NOPE!  tattooed on his fingers!!?  Cooper would never be accepted as a villain.  So, after talks with the inevitable, the scared and the interested (John Carradine, Cooper, Laurence Olivier), first-time director Charles Laughton had a brainwave… He called Mitchum and  and warned him: “The role is of an irredeemable shit!”   Mitchum promptly answered: “Present!”
  63. Joel McCrea, Stranger On Horesback, 1955.  Coop sat on the Louis L’Amour Western for three months until producer Leonard Goldstein asked McCrea to read it.  Joel asked for 25% of the profits, although his agent said he’d never see any.  For six, eight months he didn’t. Then, the cheques rolled in.  As his agent said:“You cast your bread upon the waters… and it’s coming back to you.”

  64. Tom Ewell, The Seven Year Itch, 1955.  
    Although Ewell won a Tony for the Broadway role, Director Billy Wilder could think only of Walter Mathau for the New Yorker bemused and bedazzled by his neighbour: Marilyn Monroe. Except  Matthau was unknown. Hence some stupid notions from Wilder and Darryl Zanuck, until the head Fox saw sense.  “If I had read the script at the time we were casting the picture I would never have recommended William Holden or anybody else except Tommy Ewell. No one I can think of can play this particular script… Holden would have been as big an error as Cooper.”  And he didn’t have to add that James Stewart would have  been, well, simply embarrassing! 

  65. Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
  66. Randolph Scott, Seven Men From Now, 1955.   Actor pal Paul Fix brought Burt Kennedy’s script to Batjac, better than anything Wayne had read since The Searchers – which he’d just finished, so too early for another vengeful Western. When Cooper, Joel McCrea and Robert Preston passed, Mitchum tried to buy the project. Finally, as producer, Duke rescued Scott’s fading career with this first of five (hackneyed)  Westerns with director Budd Boetticher – all written by Kennedy for Wayne… who eventually let Kennedy direct him in The War Wagon, 1966, and The Train Robbers, 1972.
  67. Robert Ryan, The Proud Ones, 1955.   Apart from using CinemaScope, Fox had little idea what to do with Cass Silver, a US Marshal who hires the son of a “no-good gun slinger” he gunned down as an assistant. First, Gregory Peck was set for Cass – at age 39. Next choices? Cooper, 54; Victor Mature, 47; and Ryan, 46. Much the same for the kid, with two Roberts, Stack and Wagner – aged 34 and 25!
  68. Rod Steiger, Run of the Arrow, 1957.    Samuel Fuller’s first film for his new Global Enteprises – but the money came from RKO where the owner insisted on Coop. NO,” thundered Sam in his usual CAPITALS. “I need the opposite of Cooper.  HATEFUL. A MISFIT. SEE, MY FILM’S ABOUT A SORE LOSER, NOT A GALLANT HERO I want this newcomer, Steiger.  HE’S GOT A SOUR FACE. AND A FAT ASS.” (And was mule-headed on the set).
  69. Spencer Tracy, The Old Man and the Sea, 1958. There was only one Hollywood  vieux – as Tracy’s counterpart, Jean Gabin, was known in Paris. And yet Coop thought he had a deal in 1952 with his pal, novelist  Ernest Hemingway. Maybe so. Just not once Tracy was free of his MGM contract.
  70. William Holden, The Key, 1957.   Making his first (UK) production for Columbia, the formerly blacklisted writer-producer Carl Foreman had a dream – re-uniting Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, unseen together since For Whom The Bell Tolls in 1943. Never happened, but Holden and Sophia Loren did. (Cooper, of course had won his 1953 Oscar in Foreman’s final Hollywood film: High Noon).

  71. Peter Finch, The Nun’s Story, 1958.     It was Coop, in fact, who gave the book to Fred Zinnemann – in thanks for High Noon.
  72. Burt Lancaster, The Devil’s Disciple, 1958.    Plan A was Cooper as the Reverend Anthony Anderson with the 31-years younger Elizabeth Taylor as his wife, Judith. Coop was not a well man and the co-boss of Hecht-Lancaster Productions took over the character based upon Peter Muhlenberg, “The Fighting Parson of the American Revolution.”
  73. Robert Mitchum, The Sundowners, 1958.    Medics ruled against his  stomach  ulcer traveling as far as Australia.  As it was, it traveled into cancer. Mitchum jumped at the chance to work anew with Deborah Kerr after Heaven Knows Mr Allison, 1956 – and insisted she had top billing.  They made two more films together: The Grass Is Greener, 1960, and Reunion at Fairborough, TV, 1985.
  74. Bing Crosby, High Time, 1959.      Or Big Daddy when director Blake Edwards prepared it for Coop.He was, however, terminally ill. Everything was revamped for Crosby, including an aptly named Oscar nominated song: “The Second Time Around.”
  75. John Wayne, Hatari! 1960.     Or Africa when Howard Hawks first started musing upon a safari saga during his European break… of four years. Wayne signed on for Tanganyika or Bring ’Em Back Alive or Africa Roars or Untamed for $750,000 and 10% of the profits.  Hawks made a messy hotch-potch of his own (and others) movies for his $300,000 and 50%.
  76. Gregory Peck, The Guns of Navarone, 1960.  Writer-producer Carl Foreman aimed high for his Allied saboteurs in WWII Greece – starting with Cary Grant and Marlon Brando! Plus three stars from his Oscar-winning Bridge on the River Kwai script: Alec Guinness (too busy), Jack Hawkins (having cancer treatment), William Holden (too pricey)… and Gary Cooper (another cancer victim) from Foreman’s High Noon. Also In the mix for Peck’s Captain Keith Mallory were Richard Burton and Rock Hudson. Peck tried an English accent. He needn’t have bothered. Mallory was a New Zealander. The actual mission the film was based on was Winston Churchill’s worst WWII blunder – so he adored Foreman’s revision and asked him to film his autobiography, My Early Life, which he did as Young Winston i in 1971. Navarone was the 1961 box-office champ., allowing Foreman to direct his next one, The Victors, 1962.
  77. Yves Montand, Let’s Make Love, 1960.   Among the legions  rejecting Marilyn Monroe because she was past it – and she was trouble.Never on time.  Oh yeah, and worst of all,  the public would be watching her, not them. Stephen Boyd, Yul Brynner, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Rock Hudson and  old-timers Cary Cooper, Cary Grant, James Stewart all  fled  what was then  called (in their favour) The Billionaire.   Marilyn and Montand took the new title literally.
  78. Arthur Kennedy, Hemingway’s Adventures of a Young Man, 1961.  Coop was set to be the doctor father of Nick Adams (ie Hemingway) when he died.  Then, while the film was on location in Italy, news arrived from Ketchum, Idaho, about Hemingway’s suicide – as hereditary as the bipolar disorder which also led to the suicides of his father, brother, sister and  granddaughter, Margaux Hemingway. 
  79. Spencer Tracy How The West Was Won, 1961.     Jimmy inherited the Linus Rawlings role after Coop’s death.  Both veterans were totally miscast. Rawlings was 28,  Stewart 54 and Cooper, 60.
  80. John Wayne,  The Comancheros, 1961.  Paul Wellman wrote his 1952  Western novel for Cary Grant to eventually play gambling; man Paul Regret. – the star role until Gary Cooper, then John Wayne clambered aboard nine years later. He was The Boss, beefing up Big Jake Cutter (leading to   Big Jake McCandles ten years later) and finding roles for his kids, Aissa and Patrick.   By which time Grant was too old  (Wayne was too old!!) and certainly would never serve under Duke.  And, yes, I have to say it (better than me singing it)… Regrets, I have a few, too few not to mention Birth year: 1901Death year: 1961Other name: Casting Calls:  91