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John Ireland (1914-1992)


  1. John Ridgely, The Big Sleep, 1944.       Ireland had  played some minor Broadway roles, but no movies when first seen for gangsters Eddie Mars or Canino. Ireland never forgot testing for the great Howard Hawks. Nor did the The Silver Fox…. 
  2. Bob Steele, The Big Sleep, 1944.      … He cast the big guy  as Cherry Valance (first tailored for Cary Grant) in Red River, 1946. And regretted it. Ireland was an unprofessional, alcoholic lecher - nailing Joanne Dru (his second wife, 1949-1957),  Shelley Winters -  and  Montgomery Clift. The famous scene of them them comparing the size of their guns was - supposedly - inspired by the size of Ireland’s penis. “Can I see it?...And you’d like to see mine!” “Nice! Awful nice...” Hawks cut his part to shreds. Ireland apologised, hoping for a second chance.  No way. (So he lost Rio Bravo, too!) 
  3. Louis Hayward, And Then There Were None, 1944.      Change of the dashing explorer Lombard.  And of the title when Agatha Christie refused use of the name of her book and play, Ten Little Indians, for French realisateur Rene Clair’s final Hollywood film.
  4. Lee J Cobb, Boomerang! 1946.        Johns Ireland and Hodiak were talked of for the brooding police chief the fictionalised version of the 1924 Connecticut murder of a Catholic priest. Because of Cobb’s performance, his director Elia Kazan chose him for Willy Loman in his next Broadway assignent, Death of a Salesman.
  5. Frank Faylen, It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946
  6. Victor Mature, Samson and Delilah, 1949.     The Canadian Ireland was certainly surly enough. The ex-aqua show star had eight films released that year - collecting an Oscar nod for All The King’s Men.
  7. John Litel, Two Dollar Bettor, 1950.    Ireland and Mary Hatcher became Litel and Marie Windsor in the tragic tale of a bank’s worst possible employee. A gambler.
  8. James Dean, Giant, 1955.
  9. Dean Martin, Rio Bravo,1958.
  10. James Coburn, The Magnificent Seven, 1960.       For the last of the seven, director John  Sturges needed the strong, silent, Gary Cooper-type. Said the already signed Robert Vaughn:  “Hey, I know just the guy!”  Ireland, incidentally, was reputed to have one of the biggest guns in town.
  11. Richard Burton, The Assassination of Trotsky, 1972.       As a partner in the plan of Laurence Harvey Productions, Ireland would have been the victim of Harvey's ice-pick.  They had been pals since the UK's The Good Die Young, 1954; Ireland also made two Harvey-directed movies.


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