Ida Lupino (1918-1995)
- Charlotte Henry, Alice in Wonderland, 1933. Discovered at 14 by US director Allan Dwan on London’s West End stage, Lupino was brought to Hollywood by Paramount to be Lewis Carroll's heroine (Cary Grant was Mock Turtle, WC Fields was Humpty Dumpty) and promptly dropped in favour of Charlotte. She was selected from the usual “more than 7,000 applicants” (yeah, sure), including Marge Champion, Paulette Goddard, Betty Grable, Anne Shirley. And Sue Kellog, who became Henry’s stand-in - her one and only movie credit. Lupino sat around earning $600 a week for doing nothing until getting out of her contract (and over polio) to be welcomed at Warners. Charlotte ended up in 1940s' B-movies, while Lupino rose as actress, scenarist, composer and one of Hollywood's pioneer women directors.
- Dorothy Wilson, The Milky Way, 1936. Lupino was ill and replaced by, the one-time RKO secretary with the most unique contract in Hollywood history. It assured her return, if her option was dropped, to the studio's secretarial pool!
- Joan Bennett, Man Hunt, 1940. Bennett’s “English”accent was about as rank as Dick Van Dyke’s lousy Cockney in Mary Poippins in a (thankfully) short role - opposite Walter Pidgeon, fleeing Nazis in London after trying to kill Hitler in Bavaria, no less. Also seen for Jerry were Anne Baxter, Greer Garson, Virginia Gilmore, Gene Tierney. And Lupino, the only real Londoner on the short list.
- Betty Field, King's Row, 1941. Producer Hal Wallis used "every possible argument" to convince her to be Cassie. Her agent Arthur Lyons said "she could not feel the part." Warners casting man Steve Trilling found the real truth. "She didn't want second billing to Ann Sheridan." No wonder she became a director! “I used to be the poor man’s Bette Davis. Now I’m the poor man’s Don Siegel.”
- Frances Farmer, Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake, 1941. Isabel was a jinxed role in Tyrone Power’s thud ’n’ blunder romp. Lupino was chosen, then pushed into Moontide, replaced by Maureen O'Hara, hit by appendicitis, subbed by Cobina Wright, struck down with strep throat. This, then, was Farmer’s last film before being wrongfully declared mentally incompetent and committed to various asylums and mental hospitals for seven years. She then tended the very parents who had committed her and came back, with six roles, mainly on TV, during 1958-1959. She died from throat cancer in 1970. Jessica Lange played her tragic life in Frances, 1981.
- Brenda Marshall, Captains of the Clouds, 1941. Will you/won’t you be our Emily, asked Director Michael Curtiz. She wouldn’t. ’Twas a guys’ movie: Flynn, Gable, Brent, Massey. What chance did a gal have in a tribute to the RCAF: Royal Canadian Air Force…
- Ann Sheridan, Juke Girl, 1942. By now, Wallis was pondering litigation over Ida’s complaints about her roles. As Ann added her Oomph, Ida was loaned out for a year (including abortive Hollywood debut of French super star Jean Gabin) and never caught up with Joan Crawford, Bette Davis or Ann Sheridan.
- Ann Savage, Detour, 1945. Lupino and John Garfield were keen. So was Warners. For a wee while.
- Gene Tierney, Leave Her To Heaven, 1945. Fox thought of Lupino and Tallulah Bankhead as step-sisters in the perfect John M Stahl melo. Now there’s volatility to the max! Tierney and Crain, not so much. Despite. Teierney’s Oscar nomination.
- Joan Crawford, Possessed, 1946. Lupino turned director because she was fed up of rotten roles. Not this one. Except it was taken from her and given to Joan Crawford, fresh from her Mildred Pierce Oscar. And immediately up for another. (Crawford had made a totally different movie with the same title in 1930).
- Nancy Guild, The Brasher Doubloon, 1946. This time Fox gave the case back to Philip Marlowe - having first adapted Raymond Chandler’s The High Window in 1941 as Lloyd Nolan’s seventh and final outing as Brett Halliday’s shamus, Michael Shayne. Akin to Batman borrowing a Superman story.
- Rita Hayworth, The Lady From Shanghai, 1947. Needing money for his Around The World In 80 Days stage venture, Orson Welles got $25,000 from Columbia czar Harry Cohn by promising to make him a movie. Welles always said he took the title from a paperback he saw at a railway station while calling King Cohn. (Actually the title was Before I Die - by Sherwood King). The femme fatale role of Elsa Bannister hovered betweenLupino and Orson’s French actress lover, Barbara Laage, before Rita took it as glue for her marriage to Welles. Didn’t stick.
- Celeste Holm, A Letter To Three Wives, 1948. Voice off… Who’s voice? That’s Addie’s voice. Who is Addie’s voice? Ah! When writing to the wives to say she was running off with one of their spouses, Addie was heard but never seen. Lupino and Joan Crawford were considered for the voice-of. Holm’s name as kept secret. At the time.
- Patricia Neal, The Fountainhead, 1948. First, Mervyn LeRoy was to direct Barbara Stanwyck opposite Humphrey Bogart. By ’48, director King Vidor switched Bogie to join - of course - Bacall. Next, Gary Cooper and Bacall. Except Betty quit. After rejecting Lupino, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo and Alexis Smith, head brother Jack Warner took a chance on the young Neal. Cooper objected. Warner insisted. Result: Cooper and Neal had an affair.
- Claudette Colbert, The Secret Fury, 1949. If anyone knows why these two may not be joined... Yes, someone shouts, she’s already married. No, I’m not. Yes, you are… In July, Lupino was to be the bride. By September, Colbert agreed to take over if actor Mel Ferrer directed. Why? Maybe she meant José…
- Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday, 1950. Columbia chief Harry Cohn stubbornly wanted anyone but the Broadway star. He relented. She won an Oscar. He did not applaud.
- Claire Trevor, The High and the Mighty, 1953. All aboard the flying Grand Hotel - a DC-4 piloted by John Wayne and Robert Stack and stuffed to the flaps with the kind of mixed cliché bag of passengers that continued into the Airport films and was torn to shreds by the Airplane comedies. Tasty or not, the roles were basically cameos. And, therefore, beneath the high and mighty Lupino, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Dorothy McGuire, Ginger Rogers and Barbara Stanwyck. They all rejected the sassy old broad, described by New York Times critic Bosley Crowther as a gallant lady of much circulation. Trevor won an Oscar nod.
- Joan Fontaine, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, 1955. Lupino and her husband, actor Howard Duff, and writer Douglas Morrow formed a company to film Morrow’s tale of a novelist fighting the flaws of capital punishment by framing himself for murder. Ultimately, Bert Friedlob produced it as director Fritz Lang’s last US movie.
- Jane Wyman, Miracle in the Rain, 1955. Ben Hecht scripted his weepie novel and intended directing it. Benedict Bogeaus took it over for his and Lupino’s Arcadia Productions - for her to star in - beforeItalian producer Alfred Guarini bought it for his wife, Miranda. Finally, producer Frank P Rosenberg brought the rights back to Hollywood - with Audrey Hepburn in mind for the lonely woman meeting a lonelier Van Johnson in a rainy New York. Problem was every producer had Audrey Hepburn in mind.