Payday Loans
Wallace Beery (1885-1949)

  1. Cliff Edwards, Free and Easy, 1930.    Paramount said Beery had no talkie future after his 1926-28 comedy series (with Raymond Hatton). He was rescued by  MGM, playing Buster Keaton's sidekick in his riotous wartime "experiences."  Following Lon Chaney's death, Beery was rushed into The Big House instead and, to Paramount's shock, won an Oscar nomination. He got the award the following  year for The Champ and  became one of the biggest MGM stars across two decades.
  2. Harry Carey, Trader Horn, 1931.    Director  WS Van Dyke  preferred Carey's panache for dangerous stunts to Berry -  first of Gloria Swanson's six husbands.
  3. Charles Laughton, Mutiny on the Bounty, 1934.    Almost inevitably, Beery was MGM’s first choice for Captain Bligh. He  didn’t like Clark Gable. Much less the idea of being stuck with him for months on location. And on the same damn ship!   To get to know Laughton better, Gable invited him to a brothel, not realising  he was gay - one reason why MGM’s house genius, production chief Irving Thalberg, chose him, knowing how Laughton would upset the homophobic Gable…greatly assisting their on-screen enmity. 
  4. WC Fields, David Copperfield, 1934.     Before choosing Fields to replace Charles Laughton after his first two days as Mr Micawber, MGM had asked Beery to take over.  He refused, as his wife, was gravely ill. Fields was quite scared  (as was Laughton) of his first dramatic role,  often resorting to his usual schtick, most of which was  cut out. He also had much of his dialogue written out for him  around the set, a la John Gilbert and pre-Brando style.  But producer David Selznick was right: Fields made a better Micawber than Laughton. 
  5. Joel McCrea, Woman Wanted, 1934.   The totally different Beery and Franchot Tone were up the lawyer helping a Maureen O’Sullivan falsely accused of murder - and on the lam from the cops and the hoods. Made by four directors… Richard Boleslawski, Harry Beaumont, J Walter Ruben and finally, George B Seitz. No wonder they almost called it Manhattan Madness.
  6. Victor McLaglen, Professional Soldier, 1934.    Beery would have over-egged the soldier of fortune guarding the boy king Freddie Bartholomew. McLaglen saved the entire enterprise… which more than somewhat… er, influenced the Star Wars finale.
  7. Victor McLaglen, Nancy Steele Is Missing, 1936.       So were the director and star Beery, who told head Fox Darryl Zanuck: “I won't do a picture with a director whose name I can't pronounce.” (He had troible with… Otto?). Zanuck’s solution was drastic: replacing Beery with McLaglen, switching Preminger to Danger - Love At Work and replacing him with trusty workhorse George Marshall. Only Loretta Young stayed put despite declaring that Preminger was “too foreign to direct such a strong American story.”
  8. Lionel Barrymore, Test Pilot, 1937.      At first, the co-stars of Gable -  Hollywood ‘s new King -  were to be Beery, Jean Harlow, and Jimmy Durante.  They became Barrymore, Myrna Loy (by sheer happenstance,  the new Hollywood Queen), and (in a thankless buddy role) Spencer Tracy.
  9. Frank Morgan, The Wizard of Oz,  1938.
  10. Walter Brennan, Northwest  Passage, 1939.     Metro honcho LB Mayer saw another Gone With The Wind in Kenneth Roberts' best-seller. By the time it staggered into production, Beery, Greer Garson,Robert Taylor, Franchot Tone, were syphoned off to other films.  Only Spencer Tracy remained in what became sub-titled: Book 1:  Rogers'  Rangers. The Book 2 eventually became a TV series and released as three movies during MGM's slack 1959.
  11. Robert Donat, Goodbye Mr. Chips, 1939.      Far from the lovable slob created by MGM publicity. Beery was credible casting for an ancient UK schoolteacher - that won Donat his Oscar. “As soon as I put the moustache on,  I felt the part,” said Donat, “even if I did look like a great Airedale come out of a puddle.”
  12. Charles Laughton, The Man From Down Under, 1942.     Unfortunately for all concerned, James Cagney and his producer brother William were beaten by MGM to the rights of the saga of an Aussie back from WWI with a pair of Belgian brother and sister orphans. When incest looms, all turns out fine. Hey, it’s an MGMovie! Beery (or Cagney) would have been tons better than a wholly lamentable Laughton.
  13. Akim Tamiroff, For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943. Among the ususal suspects for such a support role: Edward Arnold,  Wallace Beery, Lee J Cobb, Charles Laughton, Thomas Mitchell, Edward G Robinson.
  14. Edward G Robinson, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, 1945.     Beery said no to the Norwegian farming patriarch. Robinson said: Ja.
  15. William Bendix, Johnny Holiday, 1949.     Shortly before production began, Beery died from a heart attack..
  16. Peter Ustinov, Quo Vadis, 1950.    After  negotiating for the rights since 1925, MGM  came close to filming Henryk Sienkiewicz’s 1895 novel in 1935.  With  a Beery Nero and Marlene Dietrich as his missus, Poppaea. The 1950 couple was British: Ustinov and Patrica Laffan.  And Sophia Loren (and her mum) were among the extras.
  17. Robert Newton, Soldiers Three, 1951.     Years before, MGM planned to call up Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Beery to the Kipling battalion.
  18. Emlyn Williams,  Ivanhoe, 1951.    When first planned in  the mid-30s, MGM aimed to squeeze too many contract stars into unlikely roles in Sir Walter Scott’s 12th Century, Robin Hoodish tale of chivalrous knights, warring Saxons, Normans, Christians and Jews.  Such as Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer. And Beery as Wamba, the  court jester who becomes the hero Robert Taylor’s squire. 

 





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