Glenn Ford

  1. William Holden, Texas, 1940.     First of two Westerns for Ford and Holden – the only Hollywood stars whose contracts were each shared between two companies. Ford was at Columbia and MGM, Holden at Columbia and Paramount. And that was the trouble here. Par had suspended Holden over some financial trifle, so Ford moved up from Tod Ramsey to Dan Thomas…In fact, he was merely warming Holden’s saddle for him, as he was soon released to court the rancher’s daughter, Claire Trevor.
  2. Bruce Bennett, Sahara , 1943.   According to the sacred Hollywood Reporter daily in 1942, Melvyn  Douglas and Glenn Ford were first booked for the WWII thriller.  They became Humphrey Bogart and Bruce Bennett  and,  indeed, Broderick Crawford and Lloyd Bridges,  in the 1952 Western re-make version, Last of the Comanches. Bridges was in both movies.
  3. Gary Merrill, All About Eve, 1950.
  4. Thomas E Breen, The River/Le fleuve, France-India-USA, 1951.    Among the Hollywood names juggled by the legendary French realisateur Jean Renoir for his final film  in English. He also tried for Brando, John Dall, Van Heflin, James Mason,  Robert Walker, Sam Wannamaker before settling on  the totally useless Breen.
  5. Gene Kelly, The Devil Makes Three, 1951.    Sir Dancelot  took over Ford’s post-WWII hero in post-WWII Germany where post-WWII Nazis still exist and conspire… Kelly had a better gig that year. Singing in the Rain.
  6. John Wayne, Hondo, 1952.   Ford and director John Farrow (Mia’s dad) didn’t get on during Plunder of the Sun that year. So it was necessary for producer John Wayne to change star or helmer… for the very average Louis d’Amour tale. 3D or no 3D! Duke blamed the flop for being too close to Shane. Or  not close enough!  Hondo is only really remembered as the reason  Spencer Tracy’s Bad Day At Hondawas changed to Bad Day At Black Rock.
  7. Tony Curtis, Houdini, 1953.     Last of the bunch of both old and new stars eager  to make the Harry Houdini story.
  8. James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953.
  9. Richard Kiley, The Phenix City Story, 1954.     Without stars (Ford, Edward G Robinson, George Raft) it had a slashed budget and higher critical acclaim for its docu-style look at what New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called “the shrewd chicanery of evil men, the callousness and baseness of their puppets and the dread and silence of local citizens” in the true tale of the little Alabama city.
  10. Van Heflin, Woman’s World, 1954.   Which guy wins  the top job depends  on their wives…  Fred McMurray’s embittered Lauren Bacall from Philly;  Cornel Wilde’s June Allyson, a hayseed from Kansas City; or Mrs Heflin – Arlene  Dahl, who,  as Variety reported is  “a pushy glamour gal, not unwilling to throw her sex around to gain her aims.”

  11. Paul Newman, The Rack, 1955.      In September, Ford was up for the US Army officer on trial for collaborating with the enemy while a prisoner in Korea. He would never have come close to the power of Newman’s performance.. Just what he needed to make up for his debut in The Silver Chalice which Newman has continually called “the worst motion picture filmed during the 50s.” He was not wrong!
  12. Kerwin Matthews, The Garment Jungle, 1956.     Passed… “I was the hardest working unknown actor in the world, ” Matthews often boasted. However, “handsome is as handsome does” does not an actor make. He was rarely up to his roles, more acceptable in (Ray Harryhausen) fantasies than this tough trades union battleground.
  13. Van Heflin, 3.10 To Yuma, 1956.     Ford refused the hero, Dan Evans, in order to be the villain, Ben Wade. Some say, Delmer Daves’ Western is one of the best  50s’ Westerns. Others, myself included, say: Pshwaw!
  14. Paul Newman, Until They Sail, 1956.    In turnaround since 1953, when director Robert Wise’s company bought and sold it to Burt Lancaster’s combine, which sold it to MGM at the end of 1955 – with Ford in mind for one of the many US soldiers fraternising with lonely New Zealand women, with husbands away at WWII, missing or dead. In ’56, MGM switched to Newman directed by… Wise!
  15. Tyrone Power, Witness For The Prosecution, 1957.      Producer Edward Small was trying to find a star to suit Agatha Christie and his following epic, Solomon and Sheba, 1959.  Ford was more Old Bailey than Old Testament. Also in the Billy Wilder mix: Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Jack Lemmon, even Roger Moore…  This was Ty Power’s final movie, he died on his next project, Solomon and Sheba, in 1958.   Ford was more Old Bailey than Old Testament.
  16. Richard Widmark, Tunnel of Love, 1957.     Ostensibly due to two other gigs requiring his presence, Ford vacated the Doris Day flop –  first film directed by Gene Kelly in which he did not appear. 
  17. Robert Mitchum, Five Card Stud, 1958.      No contest! Then again, Ford was the fastest gun in westerns, drawing and firing in 0.4 seconds.
  18. Frank Sinatra, Some Came Running, 1958.     When he  couldn’t get Brando – director Vincente Minnelli’s initial substitute notion was… Ford!!
  19. Dean Martin, Rio Bravo, 1958.
  20. Jack Lemmon, It Happened To Jane, 1959.   Doris Day’s comedy started as The Jane From Maine but lacked all of the promise of its post-release title twist: Twinkle and Shine.
  21. Kirk Douglas, Strangers When We Meet, 1959.    Ford jumped ship rather than work with Novak (like Rex Harrison on Bell, Book and Candle). Or, indeed, with Novak and her fiancee, the film’s director Richard Quine! Ford knew Quine would throw everything Novak’s way. The best lighting, best close-ups, best lines, best dresses! Douglas wasn’t so worried – he was, after all, boss of the co-producing Bryna Productions. Even so, legend insists Kim told Kirk how to play his scenes. Not for long. After all, he had the Oscar, not her. “Female stars, ” Douglas once announced winning few friends, “are pathetic!”
  22. Richard Egan, Esther and the King, 1960.     Or The Story of Esther in the late 40s   – no matter which way around, Esther always had top billing… which tended to put the guys off!   Excited by her huge trtiumph in Samson and Delilah, 1948 (she stole the entire epic), Hedfy Lamarr agreed to headline The Story of Esther for the Brits – with Glenn Ford, of all non-Biblical faces, as Ahasuerus. (Say that in a hurry and people say: Gusenheidt!). CB DeMille, who directed her Delilah, had wanted her as Esther opposite Robert Morley as Mordecai way back in… 1939!  Neither project happened until Joan Collins and Richard Egan were directed by Raoul Walsh (and Martin Ritt) in Rome. Fox changed thde tile as it was already shooting The Story of Ruth…
  23. Steve McQueen, The Magnificent Seven, 1960. Hard to believe that the Western making new generation stars out of Bronson, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, etc, was originally aimed at old hats in 1959 – Clark Gable, Glenn Ford, Stewart Granger. And just two newer guys: Anthony Franciosa, Dean Jones. All to be directed by Yul Brynner, already in a bitter dispute with Anthony Quinn and producer Lou Morheim over the rights to the source material: Japanese maestro Akira Kurosawa’s Shichinin no samurai/Seven Samurai, 1953. Brynner’s title was The Magnificent Six. Like re-making Ben-Hur as Ben-Herbie.
  24. Jason Robards, Tender Is The Night, 1961.    Producer David Selznick first tried to film F Scott Fitzgerald’s last completed novel  at RKO in 1951,  with his wife, Jennifer Jones and Cary Grant –  who disapproved of  Dr Dick Diver, the shrink falling for his patient.  George Cukor decided on Elizabeth Taylor and Glenn Ford (!), John Frankenheimer voted for Warren Beatty or  Christopher Plummer. Veteran toughie Henry King helming Jones with a miscast Robards was a fiasco.  Other potential Dicks over the years had been Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman and true Brits Dirk Bogarde and Richard Burton.   Hmm, Burton and Taylor – now that would  have worked.
  25. Dirk Bogarde, The Angel Wore Red, 1961.    Hollywood’s A List (from Montgomery Clift to Paul Newman) refused. Pinewood’s A List (Bogarde all alone) campily agreed.
  26. Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? 1965.     Thinking of their image, most actors were scared of being the emasculated husband of a blowsy, loudmouthed Elizabeth Taylor. Ernest Lehman was the producer and scenarist  – well, the Burtons put all of playwright Edward  Albee’s lines back into the script, leaving just two by Lehman!.  He wanted Peter O’Toole as George. (The wife was Martha!). Liz liked Broadway’s George, Arthur Hill, but Jack Lemmon actually accepted the role – and changed his mind next day. (A matter, said insiders, more of money than fear).  Henry Fonda, Cary Grant, James Mason and, amazingly, Glenn Ford, were also in the frame before Liz simply said: “What about Burton?”   Just like she’d said about directors: “You know who’s a genius? Mike Nichols.” That’s how  Broadway’s king started his amazing  film-directing career – after  studying the George Stevens classic, A Place in the  Sun, more than 20 times. “Everything you need to know about movies is in that film.”  The star was… Liz Taylor.
  27. Burt Lancaster, The Swimmer, 1967.   .Burt called it: “Death of a Salesman in swimming trunks.” (Seventeen pairs, his only wardrobe for the film). He  went into serious  training to match his old nickname, The Build, for novelist John Cheever’s tragic hero, who suddenly decides to swim home via the pools of his Connecticut friends and neighbours.  Burt was no great swimmer but producer Sam Spiegel praised his “perception and courage and… intense interest in films that go beyond the obvious and ordinary.”  Hah, said Burt. “The whole film was a disaster,” he told Take 22 magazine.  “Sam had promised me to be there every single weekend to go over the film, because we had certain basic problems – the casting and so forth. He never showed up one time. I could have killed him, I was so angry with him. And finally Columbia pulled the plug on us. But we needed another day of shooting – so I paid f$10,000 for it.” Montgomery Clift (!), Glenn Ford, William Holden, Paul Newman and George C Scott had all been in the swim for what became Spam’s fourth consecutive flop. Minus David Lean, Spiegel was  a zero.
  28. Robert Mitchum, 5 Card Stud, 1968.    Early thought for the  preacher with a gun inside his Bible. Dean Martin tells him: “If that is a Bible, read it. If it ain’t a Bible, drop it.”
  29. Robert Ryan, The Wild Bunch, 1968.
  30. Elvis Presley, The Trouble With Girls (And How To Get Into It), 1969.      First planned for Ford in 1959 (with Elvis as a sidekick) – then Dick Van Dyke in ’64 – Presley’s penultimate film gave him less songs and screen time than usual. He was fine as the boss of a 1920s  Chautauqua traveling show (part showbiz, part education). The senseless title aimed to prove that the sizzle had not fizzled. But it had. Two child stars stole everything but The King’s guitar. One more shoot (Change of Habit) and he was gone. Back on the road.

  31. Richard Basehart, Un homme qui me plait, France-Italy, 1969.    Cocktail crap… During a party at Jean-Pierre Aumont’s Hollywood home, Glenn Ford told Claude Lelouch’s assistant director (and future auteur), Claude Pinoteau, that he’d work for free for Lelouch. Yet when offered a small role of an American actor, Ford was no longer such a great Klelouch fan… Pinoteau (a future auteur) called up his LApal from L’Ambitieuse, 1958, when Pinoteau was assisting Yves Allegret.
  32. Tony Curtis, The Persuaders, TV, 1971-1972.     With the Bond producers sniffing around,, Roger Moore wasn’t keen on another TV  series after The Saint, until the size of producer Lew Grade’s cheque grew bigger than his cigars. Grade offered a choice of three US co-stars. Moore said Ford was  selfish, “not as a person but as an  actor and I didn’t think it would work over a long period of time,” Rock Hudson was almost a clone of Moore but Curtis “would be brilliant.”  The Curtis version was that Grade enticed Moore aboard by saying: “We’ll get Tony for the other rôle.“ Either way the result was the same. Only 20 of the 24 shows were aired in the US.  

  33. Peter Finch, Network, 1976.    
    “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore…”  Both director Sidney Lumet and writer Paddy Chayefsky came from the golden age of US TV – and pulled no punches in detailing where the medium was going (down the drain. Indeed, their fictional USB fourth network became, well, Fox.  After tenuous thoughts about real TV News anchors (John Chancellor and the venerable Walter Cronkite),Paddy had a wish list of real actors  for the unhinged news anchor Howard Beale: the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.” Henry Fonda  found it “too hysterical” (his daughter Jane was up for Faye Dunaway’s Oscar-winning role), Glenn Ford,  Cary Grant, Gene Hackman, William Holden (he played news exec  Max Schumacher, instead), Walter  Matthau, Paul Newman, James Stewart (appalled by the script’s bad language!). Plus George C Scott , who refused because he had once been “offended” by Lumet! (Yet his final film was Lumet’s final film, Gloria, 1998).   Lumet had just the one name – and this proved to be Finchy’s farewell, winning the first posthumous Best Actor Oscar. Lumet was with Peter when he died. They were in the Beverly Hills Hotel, awaiting  a joint interview,  when  Finch collapsed and died soon after in hospital, never regaining consciousness from his heart attack.  His performance won the first posthumous acting Oscar. (Ironically, the second was also for an Aussie, Heath Ledger, for The Dark Knight… 33 years later).

  34.  William Holden, Network, 1976.  Ford and Holden were also up for the USB News  exec Max Schumacher – romancing Faye Dunaway.   The lovers were among the prophetic film’s ten Oscar nods. Faye won, Holden didn’t. 
  35. Ed Asner, JFK, 1991.
  36. Harry Carey Jr, Tombstone, 1992.      Ford quit being  Marshal Fred White  due to health problems. Too old, anyway, at 76, considering  White was murdered at 31.  (Carey was 71). Another veteran cowpoke, Robert Mitchum, left another role (later cut) after falling off his horse.  He recovered enough  to narrate the film. 




 Birth year: 1916Death year: 2006Other name: Casting Calls:  36