Peter Finch (1916-1977)
- Gilbert Roland, The French Line, 1954. The Oliviers found him in Australia, promised to help if he got to London -where Vivien Leigh became his lover and got him into Elephant Walk, 1954. Hollywood's reward for its future first posthumous Oscar-winner? "A Spanish gigolo" in the Jane Russell film with the typical Howard Hughes sales pitch: "JR in 3D - it'll knock both your eyes out." It?
- Ralph Richardson, Richard III, 1955. Although aware of his wife's infidelity with Finch (hardly her first lover during their lavender marriage), Laurence Olivier offered him Buckingham. Finchy, however, was trapped in "a very crummy" Errol Flynn pot-boiler, The Dark Avenger. "Actors, have to eat."
- Louis Jourdan, Dangerous Exile, 1957. Signing a five-year Rank Organisation contract in 1955, he refused this costume drama among some 30 other Rank films.
- Howard Keel, Floods of Fear, 1958. "The trouble is British studios are conventional and I am not."
- Curt Jurgens, Ferry To Hong Kong, 1958. Peter Finch was signed for the tramp, stuck on the Macao-Hong Kong ferry without a passport. He was invited to greet a group of Rank’s Canada sales execs at Pindwood Studios - and let fly a drunken tirade at Rank boss John Davis. “That man doesn’t come near this studio again,” ordered Davis the next day. In fact, the day after he’d seen Orson Welles in The Long, Hot Summer. Too old and too fat for the tramp, Welles became the ferry skipper - and the ex-skipper, Curt Jurgens, became the tramp. As if anyone cared.
- Alec Guinness, Tunes of Glory, 1960. "No regrets. It was right for Alec."
- John Mills, The Singer Not The Song, 1960. The first director, Ken Annakin, saw only Finch and Marlon Brando as the warring (and loving) Spanish priest and bandito. Whereas Rank intended to "throw everthing we possibly can" at Dirk Bogarde - including the tightest of black leather trousers - to help persuade him to sign a new contract. Livid at being stuck with Mills, Bogarde announced: “I will make life unbearable for everyone concerned.” He did so. And then some… (George Lucas named Anakin Skywalker after the UK director - being a fan of his 1959 Swiss Family Robinson).
- David Niven, The Guns of Navarone, 1961. B usy directing his first movie, The Day, a short about a boy and his donkey on Ibiza.
- Rex Harrison, Cleopatra, 1962.
- Stuart Whitman, Le jour et l'heure/The Day and the Hour, France, 1963. One of five films, Finchy lost during the delays of....
- Sean Connery, Thunderball, 1965.
- Trevor Howard, Von Ryan’s Express, 1965. On the short list (with Jack Hawkins) for Major Fincham. Finchy and Frank Sinatra on the same set - that would have been explosive.
- Walter Chiari, They’re A Weird Mob, 1966. UK director Michael Powell's first Australian foray. Finch was willing to help, but had no wish to be the hero, Nino Culotto. "Chiari is your man," he said, "but you’ll have to convince him of that. " He did.
- Terence Cooper, Casino Royale. 1967.
- Richard Harris, Cromwell, 1970. His Trials of Oscar Wilde director, Ken Hughes, asked but Finch didn't want "a reputation for playing too many great men." He didn't then know he would not complete his Caesar.
- Rod Steiger, Les Innocents aux mains sales, France-Italy-West Germany, 1974. After his first golden period imploded, nothing went right for nouvelle vague icon Claude Chabrol in the 70s. Not with Orson Welles, nor here with Rod Steiger - playing parts better suited to Michels Bouquet or Piccoli. “Finch would have been formidable,” declared Chabrol. “Steiger was terribly bad.”
- Len Cariou, A Little Night Music, 1977. For the role Robert Stephens was unceremoniously fired from.
- Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, 1981. Producer-director Richard Attenborough also went through Brando and all the UK possibilities: Alec Guinness, Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt… even Dirk Bogarde!! Then, playwright Harold Pinter nominated the unknown Kingsley (born Krishna Bhanji).