John Garfield (1913-1952)
- Errol Flynn, The Sisters, 1938. Flynn tested with Bette Davis. So did George Brent, Jeffrey Lynn, Franchot Tone. It was Bette pointing out the risky connotation when Hal Wallis had planned the following billing : Errol Flynn in The Sisters.
- William Holden, Golden Boy, 1938. Columbia czar Harry Cohn was a cruel and foul-mouthed bully – the most hated guy in Hollywood. And yet he knew his stuff! Like playwright Cliford Odets before him for the Broadway production, Cohn wanted Garfield as boxer Joe Bonaparte in the movie. Still feuding with Columbia, the brothers Warner refused Cohn’s each and every loan-out proposal. Co-star Barbara Stanwyck insisted on the swiftly golden Holden. Garfield had lost the stage play to Luther Adler and immediately quit the Group Theater company for Hollywood!
- William Holden, Invisible Stripes, 1939. Warners polished this one for Cagney-Garfield. The brothers became George Raft-Holden in Raft's first movie with Bogart.
- George Raft, Each Dawn I Die, 1939. Garfield had made six films that year. Enough was enough. Screenwriter Julius J Epstein on Garfield: “A nice guy, but kind of a sad sack. We’d tease him. There was something called The Writers' Table, where writers sat around at lunch in the commissary, and I remember Garfield coming up once and saying, ‘Let's have an intellectual discussion.’ I said, 'Sure, who’s going to represent you?’. ”
- Fred Astaire, Second Chorus, 1940. Inheriting Garfield's trumpeter proved a rare Astaire flop and the final film of clarinetist Artie Shaw, who hated movies as much as he lusted after movie stars. Doris Dowling, Ava Gardner, Evelyn Keyes, Lana Turner were among his eight wives.
- Jeffrey Lynn Underground, 1940. Garfield was first tapped for one of the two Franken brothers - SSiblings in WWII. Lynn’s Kurt tries to warn Phililip Dorn’s Erik, about what the Nazis are really doing.
- John Wayne, The Shepherd of the Hills, 1940. The age of the contenders for the vengeful “Young Matt Matthews” fluctuated. Garfield and Tyrone Power were 27, and Robert Preston, 22 … before Wayne, at 33, made it his first colour Western. “A lachrymose bore,” said the New York Times.
- Richard Whorf, Blues in the Night, 1941. Garfield refused to play Jigger Pine - and later lampooned the titular song during Thank Your Lucky Stars, 1943.
- Ronald Reagan, Kings Row, 1941. Garfield in a role played by Reagan?!! Well, this wasn’t Bedtime With Bonzo! Eddie Albert, Dennis Morgan, Franchot Tone were also up for the orphaned playboy, Drake McHugh - Reagan’s finest hour as an actor, particuarly when realising his legs were amputated: “Where's the rest of me? ” (This became the title of his 1965 autobio and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s score was played during Reagan’s inauguration as the 40th US President (1981-1989).
- John Shepperd, The Loves of Edgar Allen Poe, 1941. Garfield, Louis Hayward, Claude Rains and Franchot Tone were all in the Poe mix in what The New York Times complained was “no more than a postured and lifeless tableau.” Probably why Shepperd reverted to his (real) Broadway name: Shepperd Strudwick.
- Glenn Ford, The Adventures of Martin Eden, 1942. Once again, Jack Warner refused to loan him to Columbia. Nor to United Artists for...
- Michael O'Shea, Jack London, 1943. Obvious United Artists choice as John had just starred in London's Sea Wolf. Warners refused any loan deal. O'Shea was plainly not up to it. At least, he found a wife in the support cast: Virgina Mayo.
- Robert Alda, Rhapsody In Blue, 1943. On February 23, 1943, Variety's headline read: "Garfield May Play Gershwin For Screen." Or may not.
- Tom Neal, Detour, 1945. When John expressed interest in the story (by Anthony Quinn's brother-in-law), Warners roped in Ida Lupino, Ann Sheridan - and then dropped them all. Edgar G Ulmer later shot it - in six days! - as a memorable B-movie. The volatile Neal, in a love-triangle punch-up with Franchot Tone over second wife Barbara Payton in 1951, copied his role (switching a telephone cord for a.45) and killed his fourth wife in 1965. He called it manslaughter, the jury agreed and he was put away for six years.
- Robert Mitchum, Out of the Past (UK: Build My Gallows High), 1947. Refused while hoping for a re-write of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. Hence, Marlon Brando and Mitchum won their ikon-making classics on stage and screen.
- Tim Holt, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1947. Seven years earlier, the project had been for Garfield, George Raft, Edward G Robinson. By 1943 they became Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Garfield,. As everywhere else, WWII changed everything. Bogart had become Warners' biggest star and when he heard that John Huston might be making a film of the B Traven novel, he immediately started badgering him for a part.
- Robert Ryan, Berlin Express, 1947. Change of American hero for French director Jacques Tourneur’s politico-film-noir; indeed, the first Hollywood production shot in Germany after WW11.
- Dane Clark, Moonrise, 1947. A tale of four directors… Writer and sometime helmer Garson Kanin tried to get the Theodore Strauss book for Garfield. John Farrow beat him to it for Alan Ladd. Then, James Stewart wanted to star - and direct. Finally, it became one of Frank Borzage's masterpieces with Clark, a decidedly non-A player.
- Dennis Morgan, To The Victor, 1948. Aimed at Bogart or Garfield, Richard Brooks' first Warners script was ruined by the singer from Wisconsin.
- Gary Merrill, All About Eve, 1949.
- Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951. Brando was an unknown, so Garfield was asked to play Kowalski.What and be second fiddle to the Blanche DuBroad... no way!
- Frank Sinatra, The Man With The Golden Arm, 1955. Garfield had no luck with golden properties.He had the rights, but no Hays Code sanction to mention drugs on screen.Three years after Garfield's early death, producer-director Otto Preminger battled the Code - with Marlon Brando, William Holden - or Sinatra. Marlon's agent was slow in passing him the script, Sinatra read quicker - most of it - and snapped it up.
- Jack Palance, The Big Knife, 1955. Due to be the much troubled movie star, Garfield suffered a fatal heart attack on May 21, 1952. As the studio head, played by Rod Steiger, in the vitriloic portrait of Hollywood seemed based upon Harry Cohn, the tyrannical Columbia czar took revenge by sacking Knife director Robert Aldrich from Columbia’s The Garment Jungle, 1957.
- Mike Lane, The Harder They Fall, 1956. When the Budd Schulberg property rested at RKO, Jerry Wald wanted Garfield, Marlon Brando or Kirk Douglas as the exploited boxer. Columbia made it as Bogart's last movie, four yearsafter Garfield died.
- Kirk Douglas, Lust For Life, 1956. Warners first planned the Van Gogh story in ’45 - with Paul Muni, of course.Garfield chased after it up to his death. Then Fred Zinnemann tried to netBrando. (Didn’t they all?)