Kenneth More

  1. Michael Rennie, The House in the Square, 1951.    He agreed that being dressed as a Regency rake “in silk,  satin and frills… was a sight to behold.”  Too much for Ben Lyon, London’s Fox casting director.  Lyon may have found and named Marilyn Monroe but he rejected Kenny.  “He’s got a face like a full moon. He’ll never make a film star.”  In a couple of years he was the  #1 draw at the UK box-office..
  2. Humphrey Lestocq, Angels  One Five, 1952.    Britain was still (over) heavily into WWII movies and the ebullient Kenny set his heart on playing the Battle of Britain ace. Producer Betty Box could not release him from Appointment With Venus. She did, though, allow him time off to audition for…
  3. Nigel Patrick, The Sound Barrier, 1952.    Director David Lean tested him but it was obvious that the test pilot dying in his bid to break  the sound barrier would go to a  name even though David Niven turned it down.  Patrick was a very mini name.
  4. Donald Sinden, You Know What Sailors Are, 1954.    His agent said: £4,500.  Rank Organisation said:  £2,500. “When I saw how the book had been messed around, I offered up a prayer of thanks that I hadn’t been in it.”
  5. John Justin, The Man Who Loved Redheads, 1955.   Kenny obviously knew what director Harold French found out: “I didn’t enjoy making it or seeing it.” And he never directed another movie.
  6. Hardy Kruger, The One That Got Away, 1957.   “Ridiculous!  Having played Douglas Bader, one of the greatest war heroes of all time, how could I get the public to accept me as a German on the run.”  Roy Baker’s casting was not that bizarre.  Kenny had played a German soldier in BBC-TV’s first post-war play in  1946  – seen on just 1,343 licensed TV sets.  Obviously, it was felt he’d make the story of an escaping German POW more palatable to the British, more used to cheering British POWs getting away. “You must,” said More, “get a German to play it.”  They did.
  7. Dirk Bogarde, The Wind Cannot Read, 1958.    “The most marvellous part, best script I’ve ever read. I turned it down [in 1954], afraid the public wouldn’t  accept me in  a delicate, sensitive love story.  And I respected [director] David Lean too much to let him down.  Huge mistake!  He  lost all interest  and flogged the script to Rank who  made a poor film of it. David never forgave me. It would have made me an international name. Always regretted  it.”
  8. Richard Attenborough, The Angry Silence, 1960.    “After keeping us waiting for weeks, Kenny More eventually said no,” said Attenborough explaining why he played Tom, in the UK’s  New Wave film. “And I  couldn’t persuade any actor to play it … for nothing.”
  9. David Niven, The Guns of Navarone, 1961.  His Sink The Bismarck! performance led to him being invited to play Miller. But he was dropped  from this chance of global breakthrough  (and from his Rank Organisation contract) for drunkenly swearing at Rank chief John Davies at a UK film industry dinner. (Much the same thing – doors closing – happened to Tom Bell after he drunkenly heckled Prince Philip at a similar event). The next way-too-oldies (Dad’s Army!)  for the mere Corporal John Anthony Miller (not even a sergeant!) were: Peter Finch,  Alec Guinness (Foreman had scripted his Bridge on the River Kwai),  James Mason, John Mills… even Dean Martin!  
  10. Dirk Bogarde, The High Bright Sun, 1963.     The film was as weak as the last time Bogarde had substituted him.

  11. Andrew Keir, Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2159 AD,     1965. “The director – Roy Ward Baker – didn’t want me… He wanted Kenneth More… It was a very unhappy shoot…Normally I enjoy going to work every day. But for seven and a half weeks it was sheer hell!”   Baker denied the More story, “too nice for the role.” He also claimed not to have noticed that Keir was unhappy. “His performance was absolutely right in every detail. Perhaps I should have interfered more.”
  12. Andrew Keir, Quatermass and the Pit, 1967.     For Hammer Films’ second sequel about the most famous of all BBC TV sf heroes, director Roy Ward Baker wanted More – star of another BBC triumph, The Forsyte Saga.  Hammer’s first Brit in the role, Keir, was perfect and played Professor Bernard Quatermass again in BBC Radio 3’s five-parter, The Quatermass Memoirs in 1996.
  13. Peter Wyngarde, Department S, TV, 1969-1970.   The suits’ first choice for the Castle-like hero, Jason King, was More, one-time #1 star in UK films. Taking over the whodunnit author running an elite section of Interpol (honest!) led Wyngarde into his own overly-camp Jason King spin-off series  and  also, and rapidly, into exactly the kind of career doldrums that More had only managed  to escape from.  More and Wyngarde, I should add, were as different as…  cottage and cheese.
  14. Trevor Howard, Meteor, 1979.      In the loop for Sir Michael Hughes in the last of the disaster movies (a $22m bummer) were: Howard, More, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen Peter Cushing, Michael Hordern, Gordon Jackson, John Mills, Anthony Quayle… and four UK knights: Sirs John Gielgud, Alec Guinness, John Mills and Ralph Richardson. (Hordern was knighted in 1983, Quayle in 1985).



 Birth year: 1914Death year: 1982Other name: Casting Calls:  13