Sir Dirk Bogarde (1929-1999)
- Cyril Cusack, Esther Waters, 1947. Dirk was pushed into the lead of his first film when Stewart Granger withdrew “and that marvellous actor took my part and stole the picture. I was Godawful.”
- Gray Blake, Broken Journey, 1948. Tested for Ken Annakin’s prototype disaster film. Plane crash in Swiss Alps: diverse passengers (opera singer, boxer). Bogarde, in an iron lung sacrificing his batteries and his life, turned sentimental melodrama “into something understated yet truly noble,” said scenarist Joe Mendoza, who directed the test, “totally believable and moving beyond words.” (George Lucas named Anakin Skywalker after the UK director - being a fan of his 1959 Swiss Family Robinson).
- Richard Gale, The Miniver Story, 1950. Hollywood started taking note of the new UK star (although Rank production meister, Earl St John, had told him: “Head’s too small, kid.”). Interesting offers. Too many strings.
- Herbert Lom, Night and the City, 1951. The script was more vital to director Jules Dassin than Dirk - it got the young film-maker out of LA... and HUAC. Bogarde worked, instead, with another McCarthy victim, Joseph Losey. On his first film in Euro-exile: The Sleeping Tiger, 1954,
- John Stratton, The Cruel Sea, 1953. Impressed by Bogarde on-stage, Noel Coward told him: “Never, ever, go near the cinema.”
- John Gregson, Genevieve, 1953. Dirk told Dinah Sheridan that he rejected her classic comedy as “he didn’t want to do comedy again.” Not after Penny Princess, 1952.
- Edmund Purdom, The Egyptian, 1954. When, Marlon Brando fled the lead, Fox went running back to Bogarde to take over. If it wasn’t good enough for Brando, then it wasn’t good enough for Bogarde. Truth was Sinuhe (the court physician) wasn’t good enough for anyone (John Cassevetes, Montgomery Clift, Richard Conte, John Derek, Farley Granger, Rock Hudson, John Lund, Guy Madison, Hugh O’Brian, Michael Pate) and Purdom wasn’t good enough for it. The contract was all handcuffs. Each time, Bogarde said no, the money went up. And he named his new dog after the role: Sinuhe.
- Michael Wilding, The Egyptian, 1954. He only had the one dog…! Stuck fast in Rank aspic, he rejected the Pharaoh Akhnaton as a “a nightshirt part.” Wilding needed the money with his and Elizabeth Taylor's first child en route.
- Michael Craig, Eyewitness, 1955. Still aiming for Hollywood, Dirk passed on being Muriel Pavlow’s husband - their domestic row led to her being targeted by a couple of homicidal burglars. Craig, a newer Rank conbtract player, succeeded him. Not for the last time.
- Michael Craig, House of Secrets (aka Triple Deception), 1955. Trouble with ship’s officer Ellis is that he’s a dead ringer for a dead gold smuggler and the CIA would rather like him to take Chancellor’s place and, well, meet the gang… Bogarde passed. Easily. Again. This was the the second of five projects inherited by Craig, more character actor than leading man.
- Louis Jourdan, Gigi, 1957. A reward for helping arrange the musical casting of the decade... At Bogarde’s Beel House country retreat, Alan Jay Lerner was able to woo an unsuspecting Rex Harrison with his My Fair Lady songs. Naturally, Lerner wanted Bogarde opposite Audrey Hepburn in the Gigi film with Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier. Rank refused - except in allowing Dirk to present one of the MGMovie’s ten Oscars. And then to co-star with Leslie Caron, Gigi herself, in The Doctor’s Dilemma… for MGM. Go figure…
- Michael Craig, Nor The Moon By Night, 1958. Not interested in being Patrick McGoohan’s brother, both after the same girl in a “witchdoctor's brew of pulp drama, breakneck plotting and sensational photography,” said the BFI. The real star was South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
- Roger Moore, The Miracle, 1958. Not even $100,000 persuaded him to make this tosh. He was keeping himself available for Rank Organisation's promised Lawrence of Arabia. Never made. Dirk wrote a polite refusal to director Irving Rapper - suggesting Moore although they had never met. And never did. Apparently, Bogarde’s longtime lover, Anthony Forward, made sure of that.
- Michael Craig, Upstairs and Downstairs, 1958. There was lots of British tosh, too... For once, Rank’s top star rejected a comedy from his usual Rank team: director Ralph Thomas and producer Betty Box. Rank persisted but Craig remained his usual sheep in wolf’s clothing.
- Michael Craig, Sapphire, 1959. It's called swopping aspic with poor Craig… Bogarde turned down police Inspector Phil Learoyd but rapidly agreed to the director Basil Dearden’s courageous 1961 film, Victim.
- Richard Burton, Look Back In Anger, 1959. “Any script I cared to do they would be willing to consider,” Bogarde wrote about his later Rank days. He loved John Osborne’s script. Rank did not: “Remember the cinema was a Visual Art and there was altogether too much dense dialogue.” Dirk bought another Osborne piece, Epitaph For George Dillon, and could never raise any backing.
- Albert Finney, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, 1960. “How,” asked the Rank chief Earl St John, “could anyone consider a film beginning with a 40-year-old woman inducing an abortion in a hot bath?” And so, the hackneyed Rank ignored the British new-wave. Dirk had played working-class heroes (with West End accents!) in 1947, by now he was quite the country squire, about as street as the miscast Laurence Harvey in Room At The Top.
- William Holden, The World of Suzie Wong, 1960, Bogarde wanted Hollywood - or Broadway - on his terms. Although he had not earned that right being for many in LA, an effete, waspish, B-movie actor with a semaphoric left eyebrow.
- Karl(heinz) Boehm, Peeping Tom, 1960. The actor insisted he refused director Michael Powell’s film. Powsell said: “We never wanted to work with each other again after the fiasco of Ill Met By Moonlight” in 1957. Worrying his career was slipping, Bogarde then selected two enormous clunkers: The Angel Wore Red, “about a priest and a tart” and The Singer Not The Song - same thing really!
- John Mills, The Singer Not The Song, 1961. The most absurd Bogarde movie about the battle and love between a Spanish priest and bandit - played by two pukka Brits! Bogarde was first seen as the cleric until he was banditoed in black leather - straining at the crotch - astride a white stallion. Scared that Mills would steal the (awful) movie, Dirk decided to “make life unbearable for everyone concerned.” He never talked to Mills again, until Dirk was on his deathbed.
- Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.
- Jason Robards Jr, Tender Is The Night, 1961. Hollywood remained slightly interested. Until his US debut, Song Without End, 1960, had everyone was Liszt off!
- Glenn Ford, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1961. MGM wanted names, Montgomery Clift or even the British guy… Dick Bogart?! MGM vetoed him after the flops of his two (stagey) British MGMovies, The Doctor’s Dilemma and Libel, 1959. Director Vincent Minnelli then sought younger Euros - Alain Delon or Horst Buchholz. Studio won. Film lost.
- John Gregson, The Longest Day, 19612. Didn’t feel that the Brtitish Army padre was meaty enough... compared to all the Hollywooden cameos
- Omar Sharif, Doctor Zhivago, 1965. He was making Darling with Julie Christie, when they heard of director David Lean's interest in them both. Christie won, Bogarde lost. As Lean once told him: "I want an actor not a film star." Bogarde saw himself not as a film star but “a star film actor, a very different thing.”
- Laurence Olivier, Bunny Lake Is Missing, 1965. Working with bombastic director Otto Preminger? Life is too short! And so Olivier, of all people, became a humble cop, Superintent Newhouse of Scotland Yard.
- Anton Rodgers, Rotten To The Core, 1965. Peter Sellers said No. So did Bogarde, due not to the Boulting brothers’ script but their casting of comic Alfred Marks. Shades of the strain in Spain.
- John Mills, King Rat, 1965. Hollywood called, Bogarde bailed. Just not interested in being Colonel George Smedley-Taylor - even though every Brit actors’ friend, UK auteur Bryan Forbes was in charge.
- Leo McKern, A Man For All Seasons, 1966. Gentleman director Fred Zinnemann offered him Thomas Cromwell while Dirk would, obviously, have preferred Sir Thomas More,.
- Ian Bannen, Penelope, 1966. New (super)agent Sue Menger got Dirk a Hollywood gig. And he passed! Giving up Natalie Wood for Brechtian director Joseph Losey. No wonder Hollywood gave up om Bogarde. Not because he was gay (he never admittgd it, but everyone knew) and not due to his flops, but for being “too intelligent.”
- Omar Sharif, The Night of the Generals, 1966. Producer Sam Spiegel had many fights with his uncredited scenarist Gore Vidal (“Sam, I’m going to throw ou oput of this window”). In particular when Vidal suggested Bogarde for Major Grau. “Baby,” Spiegel exploded, “He’s a fairy, everybody knows that.” Hence: Sharif became the screen’s first Egyptian Nazi! He only agreed to act “against my political and moral beliefs” because his desert pal, Peter O’Toole was in it - indeed sabotaging it. “He comes on insane,” Vidal complained, “and you know he’s the murderer from the first moment.” Well, he was livid, getting only his Speigel contract pay of $38,175, (Sharif was stuck with $19,086.) while the uncontracted Donald Pleasence was paid $80,000.
- George Maharis, Covenant With Death, 1967. Bogarde took out an option on the novel in 1961. “Goodness knows when we shall get George off the floor,” he told me in a letter of April 24 that year, “because the American end in California want it ‘sexed up’ and we are not prepared to give in on this point.” And he didn’t, preferring to let his rights lapse...
- Peter Finch, Far From The Madding Crowd, 1967. Joe Losey’s Accident stood in the way. There could have been a way to rejoin Julie Christie and John Schlesinger but it meant being in the UK too long, tax-wise
- Kenneth More, The White Rabbit, TV, 1967. A decade earlier, Richard Burton was to star having stupidly given another RAF hero to Kenneth More in Reach For The Sky, 1956. UK producer Michael Deeley found this old script based on the WWII of Wing Commander FE Yeo-Thomas - he’d assisted the French Resistance and escaped from Buchenwald. And everyone turned him down: Bogarde, James Mason, John Mills. But not that previous RAF hero... by which time, the project had pinched from Deeley by the Boulting brothers.
- Nigel Green, Tobruk, 1967. Another officer. Another army. British, this time. Rock Hudson was Canadian, of course! (Burton was blonde in Raid On Rommel, 1971, to match long-shots of George Peppard filched from Tobruk, 1967).
- José Ferrer, Cervantes, (USA: Young Rebel), Spain-France-Italy, 1967. Best out of this Euro-pudding: Alain Delon, Gina Lollobrigida and Ferrer rehashing his Turkish bey from Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.
- Noel Coward, Boom, 1968. Sam Spiegel wanted Burton (not Bogarde) in Accident, 1967, and now director Joe Losey almost had both in his Sardinian mish-mash of Tennessee Williams’ The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. The Witch of Capri was the penultimate screen role for the “extraordinarily sweet... devastatingly sad” Master.
- Omar Sharif, The Appointment, 1969. “James Salter was a remarkable writer,” said the exiled US director, Joseph Losey, of the script he tried to mount in 1967 - finally made by Sidney Lumet. a New York child actor in Losey's Sunup To Sundown, 1938.
- Helmut Griem, La Caduta degli dei/The Damned, Italy-Germany-Switzerland, 1969. Italian director Luchino Visconti first cast him as the German Macbeth. “I’d play a stick in the fireplace for him if he asked me.” He took on Bruckmann and became another Aschenbach in Visconti's Death In Venice - fulfilling his dream. “I’ve always been good in bad pictures and I’d like just once to be great in a great picture.”
- Richard Attenborough, A Severed Head, 1970. The Iris Murdoch tale went, instead, to his neighbour at Clermont, in the South of France.
- Michael Gough, The Go-Between, 1970. The Old Firm, Losey & Bogarde, spent months discussing the script - which, ultimately, beat The New Firm’s (Visconti & Bogarde) Death In Venice to the Cannes Palme d’Or.
- Robert Hardy, Demons of the Mind, 1971. Hammer Films’ horrors were running out of steam. Its new (indeed almost last) villain, Baron Zorn, was also aimed at James Mason and Paul Scofield . They all passed on the climax of being impaled on a flaming cross… Eric Porter took it over, then switched to another Hammer vehicle: Hands of the Ripper.
- Patrick McGoohan, Mary, Queen of Scots, 1971. Up for the queen’s half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray; a treacherous bastard, literally.
- Gary Bond, Awake In Fright, Australia, 1971. Dirk paid Evan Johns to script Kenneth Cook’s book in 1963. Australian novelist Morris West bought it and, according to Losey, Ted Kotcheff “shot it without changing a word.”
- Richard Burton, The Assassination of Trotsky, France-Italy-UK, 1971. Joe Losey said that when Dirk accepted him for The Sleeping Tiger, 1954, he gave him back the career snuffed out by McCarthyism. They made five films together; Bogarde helped script one (King and Country) and direct another (The Servant). Here they parted. Bogarde refused Trotsky “for the stupid reason that it was a bad script,” said Losey, “which meant he had lost confidence in me.” Burton had not.
- Robert Shaw, Young Winston, 1972. Real roles were suddenly the vogue... for rejection. Winston’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, here, De Sade, Somerset Maugham there. Plus...
- Pier Paolo Pasolini, I Racconte di Canterbury/The Canterbury Tales, Italy-France, 1972. Pasolini selected several other Brits - Tom Baker, Vernon Dobtcheff, Hugh Griffith, Jenny Runacre, Alan Webb - abutb finally decided to play Chaucer, himself.
- Michael Jayston, Follow Me (US: The Public Eye), 1972. Due as the stuffy British husband having his wife followed by a detective - roles originally reserved for the Burtons in, alas, Carol Reed’s last film - and, alas, his worst. “Scandalously bad,” said Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert.
- Alan Bates, Story of a Love Story, 1973. Joe Losey planned it for Dirk and Catherine Deneuve. John Frankenheimer failed with Bates and Dominique Sanda. Bogarde always felt he appealed to women’s maternal instincts. “They prefer to put me to bed than to take me to bed.”
- Michael Caine, The Romantic Englshwoman, 1975. Not many actors could refuse Joe Losey and Tom Stoppard. “Englishwomen are singularly un-romantic,” was his totally out-dated thinking. “They have yellow teeth like dogs, bark like them and generally behave like them.” And Thomas Wiseman’s scenario had shades of Darling, Pumpkin Eater, Accident. “None of it is very new, really.”
- Anthony Steel, Histoire d’O/The Story of O, France-West Germany, 1975. “I won’t wag my private parts on anyone’s screen.” And for a while, that’s all he thought directors wanted of him in a sudden pervert period. In 1974, Bogarde arranged a Night Porter screening for four UK critics to allay LA rumours that it was as pornographic as The Devil In Miss Jones. Now he being offered softcore! Well, Pauline Reage’s classic novel was porn, not Just Jaeckin’s film. O’s artisocratic S&M sex trainer was taken, ironically, by a hard-up fellow Rank pactee from the 50s.
- Joe Dallesandro, Je t'aime, moi non plus, France, 1975. Serge Gainsbourg, French actor-writer-director and composer of the “scandal” titular song, longed to make a film with Dirk. When his Blackout project fell apart after being refused by Robert Mitchum, Terence Stamp and Bogarde, Gainsbourg tried to pair his lover Jane Birkin with him - but Dirk wanted the story to deal less with anal sex with Birkin, and more about the problems of an older, gay man. Script did not worry the ex-Warhol superstud. In his final film, Bogarde was Birkin’s father in Daddy Nolstalgie/These Foolish Things, 1989.
- Erland Josephson, Al di la bene e del male/Beyond Good and Evil, Italy-France-West Germany, 1977. One more bio (sans brio). He regretted refusing his Night Porter-maker, Liliana Cavani. “Women peeing in pots and elderly men fucking youths in old railway station loos. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the great philosopher.”
- Jean Rochefort, Chere Inconnue/I Sent A Letter To My Love, France, 1980. He discussed it fully with his friend, Simone Signoret, who helped him house hunting in Provence. They were supposed to be brother and sister but his French had a Brit accent...
- Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, 1981. Probably the single most stupid casting notion since Frank Sinatra for Some Like It Hot’sDaphne.
- Jean-Pierre Cassel, La truite, France, 1982. Part of director Joe Losey’s 1966 dream team with... Brigitte Bardot, Charles Boyer and Simone Signoret.
- Christophe Eichhorn, Der Zauberberg/The Magic Mountain, West Germany-France-Italy, 1982. Joseph Losey always had a project for Bogarde. They dreamt of adapting Thomas Mann’s most influential 20th Century German novel - with Dirk as the tubercular everyman hero. Six years after Losey’s death, Hans W Geissendorfer made it, as it should have been made. In German.
- Jeremy Irons, Un amour de Swann/Swann In Love, 1983. He agreed to be Swann in Luchino Visconti’s all-star dream mix (Brando or Olivier as Baron Charlus) of Remembrance of Things Past and Swann's Way. When Joseph Losey took it over, Dirk complained: “There’s no role for me.”
- Albert Finney, Under The Volcano, 1984. They made five films together, now Bogarde refused another five, so Joe Losey went with Burton (again). However, John Huston made the film... as Losey tried to interest Dirk in A la recherche du temps perdu.
- Robert Stephens, Puccini, TV, 1984. The life of the Italian opera composer had long been a Joe Losey plan - for Bogarde. Tony Palmer made it as a British TV mini-series, after his rather better Wagner, 1982, with Losey’s other favourite, Burton.
- Frank Finlay, Lifeforce, 1984. Hard to believe but Cannon’s tacky science fiction potboiler need some class… and so, probably without him knowing, Bogarde was short-listed for Dr Hans Fallada, an expert of - get this! - life after death… This was during a search for German actors (hello, Anton Diffring!) or those who could play German. Result: 22 possibilities… Bogarde, Bernard Archard, John Bennett, Nigel Davenport, Denholm Elliott, Michael Gough, Bernard Hepton, Trevor Howard, Freddie Jones, Klaus Kinski, Hardy Kruger, Herbert Lom, James Mason (ah, Rommel!), Donald Pleasence, Cifford Rose Leonard Rossitier, Maximilian Schell, Vladek Sheybal, Robert Stephens and even Max von Sydow… hey, an accent is an accent. And all the time, US director Tobe Hooper knew it didn’t matter a damn who played what guy as all eyes would be on Mathilda May - fully naked for almost the entire 116 minutes. (A rare accomplishment, swiftly copied the following year by another Parisienne, Patricia Barzyk - Miss France 1980 - in Jean-Pierre Mocky’s La machine à découdre).
- Alan Bates, Dr Fischer of Geneva, TV, 1985. Millionaire Jeffrey Pike offered Dirk $5m for any film he fancied. He suggested Graham Greene’s new novel - and a full year later nothing had panned out.
- Bob Hoskins, A Prayer Before Dying, 1987. A greatly subdued Singer Not The Song in Ireland, without the leather pants and with Bogarde as the priest this time, confessor of IRA bomber Mickey Rourke.
- Joss Ackland, The Sicilian, 1987. A polite - and sensible - rejection of Hollywood’s know-all director Michael Cimino, writer Mario Puzo and now Christophe(r) Lambert’s bandito.
- Ernst-Hugo Järegård, Europa, Denmark, 1991. Bogarde was on the 1985 Cannes festival jury judging Lars von Trier’s debut, The Element of Crime, 1984. And Bogarde hated it! He called it “unspeakable shit,” according to the Danish autuer. And yet that year, Bogarde was working for German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, one of Von Trier’s influences. He asked Bogarde (who he greatly admired in The Night Porter) to be Jean-Marc Barr’s uncle in Europa - “apparently, he was not interested.” The Swedish Järegård went on to star in Von Trier’s TV series, Riget/The Kingdom (1 and 2; 1994, 1997).
- Linus Roche, The Wings of A Dove, 1997. Thirty years earlier, the plan had been for Joseph Losey to helm Bogarde and Lee Remick in the dark Henry James story.