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Patricia Morison (1915-2018)

  1. Susan Hayward, Beau Geste, 1938.      Isobel was a small role, but Susan was the rising star at Paramount.  Patricia rose to the Empress Eugenia in The Song of Bernadette, 1943,and dropped to Tarzan and the Huntress, 1947, before rising anew in Broadway's Kiss Me Kate in 1948.  
  2. Veronica Lake, I Wanted Wings, 1939.    Paramount had siren Sally written for Hayworth, but Columbia would not play ball. The role was inappropriate! Morison, Susan Hayward and Lana Turner were chased until Constance Keane became Sally under her new name… Veronica Lake. The New York Times said she had “little more than a talent for wearing low-cut gowns.” She sure got better.
  3. Linda Darnell, Blood and Sand, 1940.     Paramount ‘s contract beauty tested for “one of the top roles”  - Carmen, the girl who had loved him since childhood and then wed Tyrone Power’s matador in the re-hash of Rudolph Valentino’s 1921 silent classic.
  4. Lana  Turner, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1940. Why not two double acts, said Dr/Mr Spencer Tracy, generously suggesting the same actress play both his Fine Lady and Young Hooker (er, Barmaid!). Morison tested but Bergman won The Lady and immediately swopped with Lana Turner… and than complained she was miscast! (Without any such moaning, Miriam Hopkins did much the same in the 1930 version with Fredric  March). 
  5. Virginia Dale,The Singing Hill, 1940.    Republic wanted to borrow Morison from Paramount for the unimportant Western programmer. She refused to go.  The story was unsuitable, she complained,  and... well, don’t get me started on the the costumes! Paramount immediately rapped her knuckles with a suspension and sent Dale to join Gene Autry… and Champion.
  6. Ellen Drew, The Night of January 16,  1941.       Due to  be Ray Milland's partner, before the movie was postponed yet again.
  7. Nancy Kelly, Fly-By-Night, 1941.      Stupid title (the axed Dangerous Holiday was better) for a pretty nifty B-thriller Hitchcock wannabe which saw Morison, Albert Dekker and Robert Preston churned into Kelly, Albert Basserman… and Richard Carlson as the innocent doctor accused of murder. He’s innocent, of course. Just like Dr Richard Kimble.
  8. Paulette Goddard, The Forest Rangers, 1941.    One ranger - Fred MacMurray replacing Sterling Hayden - is snared between a logging lady and a younger cutie (Susan Hayward and Goddard, instead of Madeleine Carroll and Morison).  Goddard never forgot the film’s song, I've Got Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle.  She whistled it in her very next gig that year, The Crystal Ball.
  9. Veronica Lake, The Glass Key, 1942.       “Lamour plus Lamarr equals LaMorison.”  Or… La Waste.   Paramount ill-used  the Broadway actress (once Helen Hayes’ understudy).   She was too tall for Alan Ladd though never  told that was why she was dumped after being fitted for her costumes.  She was replaced by Lake, of course, shorter than Ladd -  although he hated working with her., this  was the third of the their septet. “Studio boss, Buddy De Sylva said I could play heavies,” said Morisn. “I said no! I over-ate my way out of the Paramount contract.” She got stuck in B Westerns until  winning something worthy of her: Kiss of Death, 1946.  As Victor Mature’s Italian wife, she killed herself in a gas oven after being raped.  Consequently, the censors cut her out.  Fox left her name  in  the credits. Fat lot of use that was for a CV. 
  10. Mona Freeman, Danger Signal, 1944.   Parmount first optioned Phyllis Bottome’s novel as a Morison vehicle in June, 1939.   Director Henry Hathaway approved. You’ll be great, the suits told her.  Weeks later they added: “Er, the idea failed to jell into a screenplay.”  (It worked as Warner Bros).  Morison was a film fan. She loved Hollywood and Paramount  (“When DeMille walked into the commisary,  we’d say: Here comes Jesus Christ and his disciples”), watching the other stars (“Hope and Crosby were funnier when not shooting”), being naive about roles (“I told Paramount I could sing. They said: We’re not MGM.”)  She was given too many bitches, never anything worthy of her until Oscar-rumoured for Kiss of Death, 1946.  As Victor Mature’s Italian wife, she killed herself in a gas oven after being raped.  Consequently, the censors cut her out!  Fox left her name in  the credits. Fat lot of use that was for a CV.   When  she died in 2018, Morison was 103.

 





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