J Carrol Naish

  1. Rollo Lloyd, Anthony Adverse, 1935.        For the film of Hervey Allen’s novel, Naish (and Humphrey Bogart) were tested for Napoleon Bonaparte. Director William Dieterle was droped in  favour of  Mervyn LeRoy, who just happened to the the son-in-law of Harry, oldest of the three Warner brothers.
  2. Walter Connolly,The Good Earth, 1936.         Among those in the mix for Uncle  in producer Irving Thalberg’s version of Pearl S Buck’s best-seller were Naish, George Barbier and Hal K Dawson. This was the only film with a credit for MGM’s in-house genius, Irving Thalberg – after his shock death at 37.   His boss, LB Mayer, had told him: “The public won’t buy pictures about American farmers, and you want to give them Chinese farmers?”  Thalberg, as usual, was right.  Three Oscars from six nominations!  Naish finally turned Chinese as TV’s Charlie Chan detective during 1957-1958.
  3. Brian Donlevy, Union Pacific, 1938.   Naish was first reserve when Charles Bickford “stepped out of the part because he didn’t like it.” No way to treat CB DeMille, directing from a stretcher while recovering from surgery. Naish, however, was already shooting another Paramount movie, Federal Offense. Donlevy was next in line…
  4. Victor Mature, The Shanghai Gesture, 1942.         Naish starred in John Colton’s Broadway play. He was lucky to lose the lead – and, therefore, this bashing from New York Times critic Bosley Crowther. “It is so utterly and lavishly pretentious, so persistently opaque and so very badly acted in every leading role but one that its single redeeming feature is that it finally becomes laughable.” Owch!
  5. Berry Kroeger, Black Magic (aka Cagliostro), 1949.       Producer Edward Small’s first thought for the French writer Alexandre Dumas, pere – author of the source novel – was… Charlie Chan! The following year, Kroeger was La Roche in the film of Dumas’ Sword of Monte Cristo.

 Birth year: 1896Death year: 1973Other name: Casting Calls:  5