Cecile Aubry, The Black Rose, 1949. But for maman disapproving the script, Maryam would have been the Hollywood debut of Caron who wanted to be a nun at 15 and then, a ballet dancer. Her day would come and last longer than Aubry’s. Tyrone Power co-starred as Walter of Gurnie - sounds like a Kenneth Williams character in BBC Radio’s Round The Horne.
Suzanne Cloutier, Juliette ou La clef des songes/Juliette or Key of Dreams, France, 1951. French movie icon Marcel Carné first planned the film for Jean Marais and Micheline Presle in 1942. Until his producers worried about the audacity of his adaptation. Eight years on, while hunting his Juliette among the new girls, Carné lost Caron to the mighty roar of MGM when Gene Kelly came a-calling and on Roger Vadim’s advice (or so he told me), saw some rushes and whisked Caron away for An American In Paris. (The then Mrs Kelly, Betsy Blair, said Caron was nominated by another American in Paris: Eddie Constantine). The Canadian Cloutier was Peter Ustinov’s second wife, 1945-1971.
- Joan Taylor, Rose Marie, 1953. Not knowing what to do with the French dancing find after An American In Paris, MGM nearly wasted her as the Native American Wanda in the third Metro musical derived from the operetta. Then the suits woke up and gave her Lili, The Glass Slipper, Gaby, Gigi…
- Eleanor Parker, The Naked Jungle, 1954. Once Eleanor was signed, producer George Pal required a re-write - the role had begun as a young virgin bride.
- Taina Elg, Les Girls, 1957. Cole Porter's last score and Gene Kelly's last MGMovie could not tempt "the waif who twisted the MGM lions's tale.” She insisted she was a hoofer, not a ballerina.
- Audrey Hepburn, Green Mansions, 1958. First, Mexican Dolores Del Rio was to be the jungle sprite at RKO in 1933. MGM then bought the rights for Elizabeth Taylor in 1949; she rapidly grew out of the role. Next, in 1953, Rima was aimed at Caron in a version by the more musical team of producer Arthur Freed, writer Alan Jay Lerner and director Vincente Minnelli. Then, it was for Angeli… or Yma Sumac, the Peruvian soprano with the incredible vocal range of five octaves. Finally, Hepburn gave up The Diary of Anne Frank to be directed (badly) by her husband, actor Mel Ferrer.
- Luana Patten, Home From The Hill, 1959. Director Vincente Minnelli would have had a job explaining a French gal in the American backwoods.
- Capucine, What’s New Pussycat, 1965. After working on the script over two years, Warren Beatty angrily quit his agent and pal Charles K Feldman’s production over his shrinking role in Woody Allen’s script) and the casting of Feldman’s lover, Capucine, instead of Beatty’s lover, Caron. The couple made Promise Her Anything, instead. D’oh! That ended their affair - the first time Beatty, the Virginian Baptist, had been named in a divorce case. And by 1967, he’d fallen for Julie Christie. Like the rest of us
- Annie Giradot, Trois chambres à Manhattan/Three Rooms In Manhattan, France, 1965. Veteran realisateur Marcel Carné offered her the Simenon tale as her first real French film role. "A sordid tale," she said, "but excitingly dramatic - and grown up."
- Melina Mercouri, A Man Could Get Killed, 1966. So could a career...
- Macha Méril, The Defector, France-Germany, 1966. Paris producer and first time realisateur Raoul Levy went through musical chairs for the leading lady of what proved Montgomery Clift’s final film. Caron was first replaced by Monica Vitti, replaced by Nicole Courcel replaced by... Macha.
- Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde, 1966.
- Faye Dunaway, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1967. For the insurance agent investigating Tommy Crown, director Norman Jewison wanted Eva Marie Saint. Too old, screamed the suits. OK, the director drew up a dreamy wish list: Caron, Anouk Aimé, Brigitte Bardot, Candice Bergen, Julie Christie, Vanessa Redgrave, Sharon Tate, Raquel Welch… and his star, Steve McQueen, suggested testing Camilla Sparv. “Yeah, well, I’ve just seen an early print of Bonnie and Clyde… and you’re gonna spend eight hours kissing her!” (The last time, Caron and Bardot were up for the same film, was for Marc Allegret’s (unmade) Les lauriers sont coupee in the early 50s and Hollywood’s Fanny, which Caron won, in 1960).
- Jacqueline Bisset, The First Time (UK: You Don’t Need Pajamas At Rosie’s), 1969. She was well out of her then-husband Michael Laughlin's production, starting life as These Three. She had her requests for script changes refused and she walked. Ran! Obviously as this tale of teen guys trying to lose their cherries before college was... abysmal. On every level. UK title included.
- Romy Schneider, La piscine, Italy-France, 1969. Leslie, Angie Dickinson, Delphine Seyrig, Monica Vitti, Natalie Wood were unavailable, or wanted their favourite cameraman or refused swimsuit scenes. (Difficult with that title). Alain Delon said: “What if I ask Romy?” For her, it was a gift from her god. He re-launched his on-off lover’s fading career. She was now a wife and mother, while he had one lover in the film (Madly), another visiting (Mireille Darc) before making a movie about (and with) the three of them (Madly, 1970). Pierre Granier-Deferre tried to re-unite The Couple for L’un contre l’autre. Ever the gent, Delon told him he couldn’t form a couple with Romy - she was too old, too ravaged. Which gave Paris casting director-agent-producer Dominique Besnehard pause every time he saw a tearful Delon on TV going on about (yet again) his great love story with poor Romy.
- Lee Remick, A Severed Head, 1971. Announced for Leslie and Laurence Harvey. But she was not the only Hollywood star living in London.
- Angela Lansbury, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971. When Disney couldn't get Julie Andrews, they cast around for another, er... English lady.
- Julie Christie, Heaven Can Wait, 1977. Mr Hollywood - writer, director, star, Warren Beatty - always seemed to be having one of his legendary affairs with the right potential co-star at the right time. (Affairs or casting calls?). This time, he had the choice of three. His ex-lovcr, Leslie; his new lover, Julie; or his next lover, Diane Keaton (well, Reds was four years away!). Christie, he always said, was the saving grace of the film's triumph. “If Warren had stayed a virgin,” said Dustin Hoffman, “he’d be known as the best director in the world.”