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Dennis O'Keefe (1908-1968)

  1. James Stewart, The Shop Worn Angel, 1937.      MGM had no idea who should - could! - inherit Daisy after Harlow’s tragic death at 26. And who, therefore, should be the new leading man. The first notion was O’Keefe and Joan Crawford.  Stewart finally partnered Margaret Sullvan so well that comedy genius Ernst Lubitsch waited months for them to headline  “the best picture I ever made in my life” - The Shop Around The Corner, 1939.  (In the meantime, he casually knocked off the equally exquisite Ninotchka!)
  2. Robert Taylor, Three Comrades, 1938.      The comrades kept changing (although  not yet a suspicious word in Hollywood).   Leader  the three post-WW1 German soldiers went from Spencer Tracy to Robert Taylor  in ’37.  O’Keefe and Alan Curtis were then tested in January 1938 before Lohkamp reverted to Taylor. The film marked F Scott Fitzgerald’s sole screeenwriting credit. 
  3. Peter Lind Hayes, Playmates, 1940.     Owch! How lucky for O’Keefe to miss this embarrassing end of John Barrymore’s career as he really plays himself, a once great Shakesperian actor, bloated and laid low by too much alcohol and ham, paying his tax bills by teaching the corny bandleader Kay Kyser how to play Hamlet, oh ho ho!  Ironically, this unbearable stinker has the only film  on Barrymore delivering the soliloquy… very moving as he was dead within two years. 
  4. Willard Parker, One Way To Love, 1945.   Despite the Hail the Chiefworking title,  it was about LA radio writers and not any POTUS in Washington.One good wrtitee, t’other not so much, needed to get back in harness for a $1,000-per-week contract.  Parker beat Lee Bowman and Cary Grant to the ace while the not so hot Chester Morris stole everything in sight. Including O’Keefe’s role.     
  5. John Derek,Scandal Sheet, 1951.  Or The Dark Page when Sam Fuller wrote his first novel - headed towards Broderick Crawford with William Holden or John Payne - before Howard Hawks paid $15,000 for it. After completing Red River, 1946,  The Silver Fox planned the Fuller thriller (reporter investigates his editor’s crime) for Cary Grant  and Edward G Robinson.  Or, Cary and Humphrey Bogart!!! Or, Orson Welles and Dennis O’Keefe. Hawks dropped it.  Phil Karlson picked it up to reunite the 1949 stars of All The King’s Men, John Derek and Broderick Crawford.
  6. Lee J Cobb, Miami Exposé, 1955      O’Keefe had been first choice for   the tough cop fighting the Mob in the film noir wannabe.  IMDb has O’Keefe  in 278 films between 1930-1965, includingas an extra in over 200 films. As party guests, nightclub patron, casino patron, wedding guest, usher, numerous reporters - and even as a ”blackfare dancer” in the 1935 Show Boat.

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