Gérard Philipe

  1. Jean Paqui, Les cadets de l’Ocean, France, 1945. Tested and lost. “Philipe, an actor ? Don’t make me laugh!’ declared Michel Simon. During La beauté du diable [1949], I had the impression I was playing opposite a wall. Don’t give me much interest in seeing him outside the the studio.” 
  2. Ivan Dsney, Madeleine, 1950.      UK director David Lean needed a French lover for his wife, Ann Todd, to poison in 1850s Glasgow. “A charming young man,” said Lean. “Very amusing, very light and oh, he was smashing.” His English was not and Lean hired the actor who dubbed Trevor Howard in the French-lingo release of Brief Encounter.
  3. François Perier, Orpheé (US: Orpheus), France, 1950.      It is always a shock to realise that Jean Cocteau never wrote Orpheé for his longtime over Jean Marais but for the older Jeran-Pierrre Aumont. Marais offered to play the second lead, Heurtebise. Aumont was suddenly not so keen and when Philipe also fled from such stellar opposition, Heurtebise was accepted by Perier.
  4. Georges Marchal, Les trois mousquetaires, France-Italy, 1953. He turned down D’Artagnan easily – for exactly same reason as he was the #1 choice. He’d been this way before as another sword-fencing hero, Fanfan la Tulipe, in 1951. Despite writing 129 scripts until his 1985 death, including 14 for Jean-Paul Belmondo and a whopping 19 for Jean Gabin – the team he wanted for another Three Musketeers in the 70s – this remained Michel Audiard’s #1 film at the French box-office with an audience of 5.5m.
  5. Jean-Claude Pascal, Le grand jeu/Flesh And The Woman, France, 1954. Gina Lollobrigida happily signed for a dual role opposite her Fanfan La Tulipe. Worse was to come. Director Robert Siodmak was, plainly, not Feyder and the re-tread was a fiasco.
  6. Montgomery Clift, Stazione Termini (US: Indiscretions of an American Wife), Italy, 1954.     Started work opposite Ingrid Bergman for French realisateur Claude Autant-Lara, before it was abandoned and Italy’s actor-director Vittorio De Sica rescued his pal Cesare Zavatinni’s script.
  7. Dan O’Herlihy, Robinson Crusoe, Mexico, 1954. Among several projects planned together but never made by Philipe and the Spanish master director Luis Bunuel. They finally made La fièvre monte à El Pao. Shooting finished on July 11 1959 and the stage and screen star was dead on November 25. He was 36. 
  8. Mel Ferrer, Elena et les hommes (UK/US: Paris Does Strange Things), France-Italy, 1956.     As if he didn’t have enough hassles with what he planned as “a gay, light, musical fantasy” for his Hollywood friend, Ingrid Bergman, realisateur extraordinaire Jean Renoir could not persuade Philipe to play one of les hommes. Ferrer was not the same thing at all. The first and only time I covered Oscarnight – April 8, 1975 – Bergman presented – and accepted for him – Renoir’s honorary Oscar for “a genius… with grace, responsibility and enviable devotion through silent film, sound film, feature, documentary and television.” A magic moment,
  9. Peter Finch, The Nun’s Story, 1959. Gérard did not approve of Robert Anderson’s script. Next choice: Yves Montand.
  10. Michel Auclair, Une fille pour l’été (US: A Mistress for the Summer), France-Italy, 1959.  After  working with author Maurice Clavel on adapting his book, réalisateur  Édouard  Molinaro  was quick to offer his fifth film  to the French cinema icon, but Philipe was close to death  “The tact and extreme warmth of the refusal letter he sent me,” left  Molinaro both disappointed and sad,   Even more so when all his first five films flopped… followed by another bad run in the 80s, not that he could blame la nouvelle vague that time.  Molinario;s assitant proved more adept.  Claude Sautet.
  11. Marcello Mastroianni, La Dolce vita, Italy-France, 1960.   Producer Dino De Laurentiis  thought Marcello was “too soft and goody-goody; a family man rather than the type who flings women onto the bed.” As if Philipe was! Dino suggested Paul Newman. What Dino never understood is that, in Marcello, Fellini saw his younger self.  And, more precisely, his dream self. Hey, Marcellino….!
  12. Jean Blaise, Le grand meaulne, France, 1967.     In the early 50s, Philipe refused any idea of filming – “betraying” – the Alain-Fournier classic novel. Blaise was later – allegedly – counted among Brigitte Bardot’s numerous lovers.
  13. Marcello Mastroianni, Lo Straniero/The Stranger, Italy-France-Algeria, 1967. The first and only choice of French realisateur extraordinaire Jean Renoir for his, alas, never made adaptation. The aristocratic (and certainly autocratic) director, Visconti (Count Don Luchino Visconti Di Modrone) chose Mastroianni for his, alas, adaptation.
  14. France Nero, Le Moine, France-Italy-West Germany, 1972. On completing Simón del desierto/Simon du desert in 1968, Luis Buñuel was keen to film the 1796 novel about a monk’s pact with the Devil leading to much lust… and the Papacy. He asked Philipe to play Brother Ambrosio but he preferred a more political Buñuel venture: La Fievre monte a El Pao. Ado Kyrou, who had a hand in the scripting with Buñuel and Jean-Claude Carrière, finally directed. Badly. For a writer famously between surrealism and eroticism.
  15. Jean-Marc Barr, La peste/The Plague, France-Argentina-Great Britain, 1991. Announced by realisateur Marcel Cravenne at the second Cannes festival in 1947.
  16. Olivier Martinez, Le Hussard sur le toit, France, 1995. Realisateur René Clement’s hero, circa 1954. Luis Buñuel later had the same idea. (They made La Fièvre Monte à El Paso, Philipe’s last film in 1959). But writer Jean Giono (who preferred Michel Simon) formed his own production company to protect his 1951 classic and it remained “unfilmable” for 44 years. 


 Birth year: 1922Death year: 1959Other name: Casting Calls:  16