Payday Loans
Linda Darnell (1921-1965)

  1. Dorris Bowdon,  Drums Along The Mohawk, 1938.       The Miss Memphis 1937, with two rs  and 16 years, arrived at Fox with Darnell. Head Fox Darryl Zanuck was so high on Linda’s debut  (Hotel For Women, 1938) that he expensively pulled her from  John Ford's settlers' saga to make her Tyrone Power’s Daytime Wife, and gave Dorris to Ford - she  had,  meantime, married top scenarist Nunnally Johnson, 18 years her senior, and stayed wed up to his death 36 years later.
  2. Dorothy Lamour, Johnny Apollo, 1939.        Darnell and Alice Faye were sideswiped by Lamour on loan from Paramount  (“yeah you can have her if we can have Don Ameche!”) as Lucky the lounge singer, delivering much more than just ‘This is the Beginning of the End’ and ‘Dancin’ for Nickels and Dimes’ for  the titular Tyrone Power. Darnell got Power in his next one, Brigham Young.
  3. Anne Baxter, Swamp Water, 1941.         Darnell was livid at being replaced as Julie in Jean Renoir’s first US film since fleeing his Nazi-occupied France. As usual, Hollywood had scant respect for anyone who was better than Hollywood. Head Fox Darryl F Zanuck dared complain that the master réalisateur of La Grande Illusion, La bête humaine La règle du jeu - revered as the greatest film-maker by Chaplin and Welles - was too slow!! He was fired, then asked to stay. Soon as the film was finished, Renoir quit Fox. “He’s not one of us,” said DFZ. Dissolve. On the Oscar night of April 8, 1975, Renoir received an honorary Academy Award for his career. One of his stars, Ingrid Bergman, picked it up for him. I know because I was there.
  4. Lynn Bari, Sun Valley Serenade, 1940.       Or Passport to Life when Fox first announced Darnell and Tyrone Power as the lovers - the singer and pianist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, no less - in Sonja Henie’s favourite icecapade. Bari’s fella was John Payne
  5. Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette, 1943.   Darnell, Mary Anderson, Anne Baxter, Lillian Gish,  Beatrice Pearson, Ruth Quigley, Gene Tierney, Teresa Wright were all in the frame for the French girl who had a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858. On December 9, 1942, Jones won “the plum role of the year” - and Darnell became her vision.  A controversial choice As her reputation was hot, to say the least. She was also pregnant!  Immediately, Franz Werfel, author of book being filmed, threatened to remove his name and support from the project. Head Fox Darryl Zanuck said, OK,  an unknown would have the role. He lied. Darnell was The Lady. In a bright light. Making her anonymous. 
  6. Betty Grable, Pin Up Girl, 1943.       It was a Fox film. It was made during WWII.  So who else could the title role  go to but the US forces’ favourite  pin-up. 
  7. Jean Peters, Captain From Castille, 1947.       Peters won her screen debut due to a Fox test she made one week before shooting started on the Tyrone Power swashbuckler. She replaced Linda Dartnell, suddenly switched to rescuing Forever Amber from the inexperienced UK import, Peggy Cummins.  Peters’ second husband, 1957-1971,  was Howard Hughes,  no less. Not that you knew it from  her. “My life with  Howard Hughes,” she decreed in 1972, “was and shall remain a matter on which I will have no comment.” Just plenty of money.
  8. Jeanne Crain, Pinky, 1948.       The year is important… Almost makes what follows undestandable. Almost… Cid Ricketts Sumner’s book was about a black nurse passing for white and falling for a white doctor. Perfect for Dorothy Dandridge who auditioned or Lena Horne who pushed hard for the rôle. No, no, said the Fox suits, the great US public would not stand (or pay) for inter-racial love scenes. So they went with a white actress passing for a black nurse passing for white… Stupido! Darryl F Zanuck also thwarted Darnell’s hopes by saying it was too much like her Forever Amber - which was far from being about a black nurse passing for white and falling for a white doctor. As a favour to DFZ, Elia Kazan agreed to take over the film - script unseen - from John Ford, fired for being unable to work with veteran black actress Ethel Waters (Oscar-nominated for her performance). Waters was not Kazan’s problem. That was Crain. “A good soul, a pretty girl, obedient, gentle, yielding and as, I suspected, catechism schooled. She defined the word ‘ingenue,’ yet had four children, was to have two more - conceived I wasn’t sure how for she gave the impression of being forever 15 and intact… There were days when I longed for a bitch!”
  9. Micheline Presle, An American Guerrilla in the Philippines, 1949.       Legal problems in 1945 over  portraying the Filipino wife of the  story’s true  hero delayed production. Fox made the wife American for Darnell…  ultimately French, with poor Presle having to be re-billed, phonetically, as Micheline  Prelle.   She was wed to LA producer William Marshall, former husband  of another  French cinema icon, Michèle Morgan.
  10. Gene Tierney, Secret of Convict Lake, 1950.       For the weak Western opus, Darnell and Dana Andrews were churned into Tierney and Glenn Ford. The horses remained the same.

  11. Evelyn Keyes, 99 River Street, 1952.   Producer Edward Small (terrible name for a producer - a Small production!) changed his mind about having one Linda playing another Linda and signed up Keyes for John Payne’s ex trying to get him off a murder rap in another superior B from Payne and director Phil Karlson.

  12. Ava Gardner, The Barefoot Contessa, 1953.        Linda  was Forever Amber.  Never Maria Vargas.

  13. Joanne Dru, Drango, 1956.     Darnell was ill. Or so she said in quitting the debut offering from Earlmar Productions, formed by Major Clint Drago himself (Jeff Chandler) and his (and Lee Marvin’s) agent, Meyer Mishkin. In truth Darnell was Fast-forwarding into (weighty) obscurity.


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