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Jeanne Crain (1925-2003)

  1. Anne Baxter, The Magnificent Ambersons, 1942.      Orson Welles spotted the   Californian schoolgirl (17) in the RKO commissary and immediately tested Jeanne as Lucy. The older Baxter (19) won. And continually kept Crain in her shade.
  2. Dorothy McGuire, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, 1944.      Elia Kazan's directing debut was based on a book by his Yale Drama School classmate, Betty Smith. Fox bought it for Alice Faye’s first straight role as Katie or Aunt Sissy. She developed cold feet. Also in line for Katie Nolan were Crain, Mary Anderson, and (a pregnant) Gene Tierney.
  3. Cathy Downs, My Darling Clementine, 1945.       No, no, no cried head Fox Darryl F Zanuck. Crain’s fans will be upset because Clementine is a small role. There are no small roles in Hollywood, only small-minded studio czars.
  4. Betty Grable, The Shocking Miss Pilgrim=, 1947.     Miss P was first designed for Crain in 1944.   Miss P became Grable. Miss P flopped. Miss P didn’t show her legs.   (Marilyn Monroe’s debut. Four years later she took one film each from Crain and Grable. Atta girl!).
  5. Shirley Temple, Mr Belvedere Goes To College, 1948.     For Clifton Webb’s return as Mr B, Jeanne was set to be Ellen Baker.  Replaced  by Grable in one film and Temple in  another - that’s quite an achievement. 
  6. Anne Baxter, All About Eve, 1949.
  7. Anne Baxter, You’re My Everything, 1949.    Oh, that Anne Baxter, she gets everything….  Well, Crain was pregnant. A devout Catholic, she and husband Paul Brooks (Errol Flynn’s double) had seven children.   (And Buster Keaton was the butler).
  8. Dorothy McGuire, Mother Didn’t Tell Me, 1949.       Mary Bard's book was bought for Fox with Crain in mind for the jealous new wife of Dr William, Lundigan.   But it was McGuire who said: I do.
  9. Marilyn Monroe, Love Nest, 1950.        These days, the video-jackets show just June Haver’s co-star - Marilyn Monroe in an utterly delicious extended  cameo.  More!  More!  (We got that when Haver retired, became a nun, then changed veils to wed Fred Mac Murray, during 1954-1991).
  10. Susan Hayward, I'd Climb The Highest Mountain, 1950.      Pregnant. . And so the Methodist minister and his genteel bride dispatched to serve Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains area, circa 1910, went from Henry Fonda and Crain to William Lundigan and Hayward. Amen.

  11. Jennifer Jones, Carrie, 1952.        Director William Wyler's first choice for Theodore Dreiser’s novel.Jones refused to quit when pregnant again, although Willy Wyler insisted  "no picture,  not even  one of mine, is worth  risking your health  for."  He  was  right.  She had a miscarriage a matter of weeks after completing the film at the end of l950.  It then lay in producer producer David Selznick's vaults (like her previous Wild Heart) for two years while Selnzick settled his debts.
  12. Betty Grable, The Farmer Takes A Wife, 1952.        Crain was to be taken by farmer Lon McCallister in a planned 1944 re-make. Eight years later, who else but the top Fox pin-up and musical star could inherit Janet Gaynor’s 1934 wife in this (dullard) musical version from (dullard) director Henry Levin. Null and void. Mitzi Gaynor (no kin to Janet) had also been in the mix. No wonder Grable decided one more was enough and after How to Marry a Millionaire, sure enough, she retired.
  13. Jean Peters, Three Coins in the Fountain, 1953.      Noting the opportunity missed by Paramount with Roman  Holiday, Fox decided to shoot this Rome-com  in colour and, for the first time outside the US, in CinemaScope. Crain had been the earlier black-white choice for Anita, falling in love - and in doubt - with Rossano Brazzi.
  14. Anne Baxter, One Desire, 1955.      Ms Baxter again!  Never mind, Crain’s main desire had happened in 1951 when she beat Baxter to People Will Talk -  among Joe Mankiewicz’s favourite films, despite considering Crain a non-actress. 
  15. Elizabeth Taylor, Giant, 1956.        Director George Stevens sifted through 30 women before finding his place in the sun. Again.
  16. Jennifer Jones, Angel, Angel, Down We Go, 1969.       Jeanne had too much classs to be Astrid Steele with  lines like “I made 30 stag films and never faked an orgasm” - opposite a hero called Bogart Peter Stuyvesant in this psychedelic garbage.


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