Charles Boyer (1897-1978)
- Lew Ayres, The Kiss, 1929. Paul Bern's plan for Greta Garbo's (and MGM's) final silent movie.
- Paul Muni, The Good Earth, 1936. Chinese and Caucasian actors often tested for the same roles. Hence, Boyer was seen for Wang Lung. Muni was loaned by Warner to MGM in exchange for Robert Montomgery making Ever Since Eve. This was the only film with a credit for MGM’s in-house genius, Irving Thalberg – after his shock death at 36. His boss, LB Mayer, had told him: “The public won't buy pictures about American farmers, and you want to give them Chinese farmers?” Thalberg, as usual, was right - three Oscars from six nominations!
- Edward G Robinson, The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, 1938. Better than Robinson as the shrink in a gangster's nest said the memos to Jack Warner, who also spurned any idea of Ronald Colman, Melvyn Douglas, Cary Grant - or Bette Davis.
- Laurence Olivier, Wuthering Heights, 1938.
- Ray Milland, Hotel Imperial, 1939. Shooting began as I Loved A Soldier in 1936, Marlene Dietrich quit, Margaret Sullavan was injured replacing her - and the film was shelved until re-cast. Meantime, Boyer and Dietrich entered The Garden of Allah.
- Fredric March, Victory, 1940. Paramount Pictures thought long about Boyer before selecting March for Joseph Conrad’s hermit hero. The 1918 version (with Jack Holt as Axel Heyst) was the first film of any of his tales seen by Conrad. (Willem Dafoe was Heyst in 1996).
- Paul Lukas, Watch on the Rhine, 1942. Producer Hal B Wallis wanted the Frenchman as the anti-Nazi German resettling in the US. Director Herman Shumlin insisted on his Broadway play’s lead, Lukas - and he won an Oscar nomination. Bette Davis took a support role (but shared top-billing with Lukas!) because she admired the playwright Lillian Hellman since making her Little Foxes.
- Ray Milland, The Crystal Ball, 1943. Boyer-Ginger Rogers became Milland-Paulette Goddard in the comedy from actor-writer-producer-director Elliott Nugent.
- Arturo de Córdova, Frenchman’s Creek, 1943. English lady. French pirate. Love at eight bells. Boyer was perfect for Daphne Du Maurier’s buccaneer Jean Benoit Aubrey. Yet Hollywood fell for a Mexican star trying his luck in Hollywood. Not. For. Long.
- Claude Rains, This Love Of Ours, 1944. Universal grabbed the rghts to the Pirandello play for Boyer - and, suggested director William Dieterle, why not Ingrid Bergman? They passed it to Rains and Merle Oberon.
- Rex Harrison, Anna and the King of Siam, 1945. After musing about two Brits, Harrison and Ralph Richardson, plus Hollywood stars Robert Montgomery and William Powell, the Frenchman was inherited King Mongkut’s throne - opposite Dorothy McGuire as his children’s governess. (Neither one made the movie).
- Robert Mitchum, My Forbidden Past, 1950. As part of her $150,000 (plus 10%) per film deal, Ann Sheridan had script, director and co-star approval. When Young had to leave, she listed her choices of replacements: Boyer, Richard Conte, John Lund, Robert Mitchum, Franchot Tone. Then, Howard Hughes bought RKO, dumped Sheridan and partnered Mitchum with Ava Gardner.
- Victor Francen, Hell and High Water, 1953. Head Fox Darryl F Zanuck first wanted Boyer as Professor Montel. Then, again, DFZ was far busier in promoting his latest French wench, Bayla Wegier, re-named Bella Darvi - made up from Dar(ryl Zanuck) and, Vi(rginia), his wife, who did not seem to know what was going on between DFZ and B.
- Paul Lukas, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, 1953. Too busy to be Jules Verne’s Professor Arronax. And everyone suffered… Lukas was forever having trouble with his lines and then “he’d blow up at somebody,” reported director Richard Fleischer. Things got so bad on the set that Lukas even threatened to sue Fleischer, Walt Disney, Kirk Douglas and a great friend, Peter Lorre! Probably because they didn't forget their lines?
- Jean Gabin, French Cancan, 1955. Gabin hated other's leavings. He knew Boyer had refused Danglard, the Moulin Rouge creator. But he made an exception for this was special... his first film in colour.
- Jacques Dacqumine, A double tour (UK: Web of Passion; US: Leda), France-Italy, 1959. For his third nouvelle vague drama, auteur Claude Chabrol wanted the Hollywood French old-timer. “I found him magnificent in George Cukor’s Gaslight.” Sure... but that was in 1944.
- James Mason, The Marriage Go-Round, 1959. Co-playwright Leslie Stevens wanted the same Broadway couple, Boyer and Claudette Colbert. Instead, they became Mason and Susan Hayward. Sole Broadway star reprising was Julie Newmar as the ravishing Swedish woman wanting her US college professor host to sire her baby. Echoing Dietrich and George Bernard Shaw.
- Charles Vanel, L'Ainé des Ferchaux, 1962. Inspired as much by Howard Hughes as the Simenon novel, Une jeune homme honorable, director Jean-Pierre Melville wanted a genuine US aura around Belmondo's co-star. Spencer Tracy was too old, Boyer not old enough “and, anyway, too good-looking.” He was old enough to join Belmondo in Stavisky, 1973.
- Michel Serrault, Les fantômes du chapelier (US: The Hatter’s Ghost), France, 1981. Chabrol + Simenon, enfin! The father of la nouvelle vague had to wait ten years to work with his favourite writer, Georges Simenon (an earlier plan, Le Sang dans a la tete, with Jean Gabin never bore fruit). However, “Cha-Cha” could not entice Boyer. Again.
- Daniel Olbrychski, La truite, France, 1982. Part of the 1962 plan of exiled US director Joseph Losey.