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Eleanor Parker (1922-2013)

 

  1. Judy Garland, For Me and My Gal, 1941.    Parker and Dan Dailey were dropped during rehearsals and rapidly replaced as Jo and Harry by Garland and Gene Kelly.  She  loved his his Pal Joey on Broadway and insisted on  him making his screen debut as  her co-star - in  he first of three musicals  as co-stars
  2. Dolores Moran, Old Acquaintance, 1942.     New director Vincent Sherman wanted Parker. The studio insisted on Moran, the choice of previous helmer Edmund Goulding - who had a “heart attack” to escape the on-going feud between the film’s stars, Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins. 
  3. Ingrid Bergman, Saratoga Trunk, 1943.     Head Brother Jack Warner bought Edna Ferber’s book for Olivia De Havilland and then, stupidly, kept her too busy to make it! Warner then tested Parker, Vivien Leigh, Ann Sheridan,  Tamara Toumanova (of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo).  And even Lena Horne -  a  brave move as  black stars were never offered above-the-title roles in those dark years, much less as a white man’s lover. (Not released, due to so many propaganda movies, until 1946). 
  4. Alexis Smith, Conflict, 1944. Humphrey Bogart is sure he’s committed the perfect murder of his wife to wed her younger sister…  Smith beat Coleman and Eleanor Parker to the Evelyn role. Bogie detested  being forced into the script but more or less reprised it with The Two Mrs Carrolls - also with the under-rated Smith.
  5. Lauren Bacall, Confidential Agent, 1945.      Graham Greene's book was set for Humphrey Bogart   and Parker.   Bogie's girl made what Bosely Crowther called "a fizzle" of it opposite Charles Boyer. "To cast me as an aristocratic English girl," Bacall admitted, "was more than a stretch.   It was dementia."
  6. Joan Crawford, Humoresque, 1945.      Parker was set to be the wealthy socialite enjoying  a little rough with John Garfield’s violinist star from the slums.  Until La Crawford heard that Helen was also neurotic.  Too good to miss!  
  7. Martha Vickers, The Man I Love, 1945.     Titles changed (Night Shift, Why Was I Born?), directors changed (Lloyd Bacon to Raoul Walsh), even the release dates (from ’46 to ’47), plus the stars (Humphrey Bogart and Ann Sheridan to Robert Alda and Ida Lupino), so why not the support troops…
  8. Deborah Kerr, The Prisoner of Zenda, 1951.     MGM used the same 1936 script, score and most of the camera angles.  With slight variations.  Parker and the hero Stewart Granger’s wife, Jean Simmons, lost Princess Flavia to  the more regal Kerr. 
  9. Ava Gardner, Mogambo, 1953.       The film already had a blonde: Grace Kelly. So,   Honey Bear had to be brunette. Nobody changed the hero... Clark Gable re-moulding his Red Dust 21 years later.
  10. Jane Wyman, Magnificent Obsession, 1953.    It was Wyman’s idea to re-hash the 1935 Universal weepie.  She first approached director Douglas Sirk about it.   And then,  whadderyerknow, Universal had the gall to start talking  to Parker, Joan Crawford and Olivia de Havilland about being Helen Phillips… As if Wyman was going to let that happen! She didn’t get all her own  way, though. Co-star Jeff Chandler fled saying the story was “soppy.”   (And how!)  

  11. Elizabeth Taylor, Beau Brummell, 1953.     As Lady Patricia, Parker would have been the sole American in MGM’s Brit-packed costume drama at the court of  King George III, starring  Taylor and  Stewart Granger plus James Donald, Robert Morley, Paul Rogers, Peter Ustinov.
  12. Grace Kelly, Green Fire, 1955.      First announced  for Ava Gardner, then passed to Eleanor.
  13. Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1955.
  14. June Allyson, The Opposite Sex, 1955. When Parker rejected the main role of Kay  in November, in order to  to rest after a hectic two years, she was promptly praised for her commonsense or immediately suspended? Well, whaddyer think…! 
  15. Vera Miles, Psycho, 1959.  Alfred Hitchcock took his time selecting the Crane siblings for his most famous film. His check-list for Lila, sister of the shock shower-murdervictim (Janet Leigh), included Parker, Felicia Farr, Carolyn Jones … and the unknown (then and now) Caroline Kurney.Miles needed a wig, having shaved her head for Italy’s Five Branded Women
  16. Ginger Rogers, Harlow, 1965.     The possibles to play Jean Harlow's mother (in the Carol Lynley version) also included Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth.
  17. Maureen O’Sullivan, Never Too Late, 1965.      Spencer Tracy was the only  thought for Harry. Opposite one of a dozen choices for his wife - pregnant at 50, ho, ho,  ho! From Rosalind Russell to Katherine Hepburn (“but I’m too old for Edith?”). Plus Parker, June Allyson, Lucille Ball, Anne Baxter, Joan Fontaine, Susan Hayward, Deborah Kerr, Ginger Rogers, Ann Sheridan. Ultimately, Warner Bros went with the Broadway hit’s duo: Paul Ford and O’Sullivan. 

 

 





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