Laurence Harvey

1. – Donald Houston, The Blue Lagoon, 1948.    Seen for the second of three versionsof the shipwrecked children growing into lovers on a desert isle. Children?  Jean Simmons was 19, Harvey 20 and Houston. 25!!!(  Molly Adair, the first Emmeline, was 17 in the 1922 silent version. For the 1980 ”story of natural love,” Brooke Shields and Christopher Arkins were 15 and 19).  

2.  –  Robert Taylor,  Ivanhoe,  1952.     Impressed by his 1952 Shakespeare season at Stratford, MGM tested him in Hollywood.  “They thought I was going to be the natural successor to Rin Tin Tin and Shirley Temple.”

3. – Jay Robinson, The Robe, 1952.   The LA Times reported in August 1953 that some “500 actors tested for the film grew too old before their assignments began”! They included Harvey, due to be loaned by London’s Romulus Films to play Caligula in the first CinemaScope production.   Robinson repeated the role in the 1953 sequel, Demetrius and the Gladiators.

4. – Robert Taylor, The Knights of the Round Table, 1953.     The role? “The boy who found the Holy Grail…” Larry found it. In his own good time.

5.  – Jacques Sernas, Helen of Troy. 1956.     After King Richard and the Crusades,  1954, Larry took  his Hollywood lolly and  ran back  to Shakespeare country, Stratford-upon-Avon.

6.  –  Carl (Karl-Heinz) Boehm, Peeping Tom, 1960.    While editing Honeymoon at Shepperton Studios, director Michael Powell (a) met producer Danny Angel who recommended scenarist Leo Marks “as crazy as you are” and (b) Larry Harvey,  winding  Room At The Top and keen on being their serial killer. But the Harvey buzz reached LA… “Mickey, I’m sorry. I’m off to Hollywood. I’ll never get such a  chance again to screw all those dames.”  Dirk Bogarde was also in the Mark list.Two years later,  Harvey and Boehm were siblings  in the second Cinerama drama, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.

7. – George Hamilton, By Love Possessed, 1960.  Actors aged between 21 and  31 were seen for  Lana Turner’s son in  a moronic copy-Peyton-Place soap.  They included Hamilton, Laurence Harvey, John Saxon.  And Warren Beatty  who complained that Efrem Zimbalist Jr , even at 42, did not look old enough to be his father.

8.  – Anthony  Perkins, Goodbye Again, France-US, 1961.     Non to Françoise Sagan’s original question: Aimez-vous Brahms?

9.  – Kenneth More, The Greengage Summer, 1961.   Too young!  Said s Broadway.Hollywood scenarist Arthur Laurentz: : ”No one laughed louder at Larry than Larry Harvey did.”

10 – John Mills, The Singer Not The Song, 1961.     Suggested as the Spanish priest fighting (and loving) a local bandit. Only Larry could have out-camped prinmcipal boy Dirk Bogarde’s ridiculous bandito in this ridiculous panto.

11 – Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961. 

12 – Tom Bell, The L-Shaped Room, 1962.     How can you keep him at the kitchen sink, after he’s seen Hollywood…

13  –  William  Holden,  The  Lion,  1962.   Once mooted as a reunion between Harvey and his Room At The Top lover Simone Signoret.

14 – Maximilian Schell,  Five Finger  Exercise, 1962.     Numerous Hollywood  offers  but…  “I  don’t work  for  money.  Who needs money?” Six years later, he wed a very rich Joan Cohn, the Hollywood widow of the old Columbia czar, Harry Cohn.

15 – Vincent Price, The Last Man on Earth, 1963.      Harvey, Stanley Baker, Paul Massie, Kieron Moore were the choices for Dr Ronert Morgan in the previous decade when Hammer Films tried to adapt the Richard Matheson book with director Fritz Lang. Matheson hated the result and Vinny. So did Charlton Heston when planning his take (The Omega Man, 1970), calling it incredibly botched, totally unfrightening, ill-acted, etc, etc.  Rather like the reviews of his version which had damn little to do with the novel.

16 – Tony Randall, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, 1963.  Anyone but Peter Sellers, ordered MGM. Producer-director George Pal surprisingly thought of Harvey (Wilhem in Pal’s Wonderful World of the  Brothers Grimm, 1961) or his 1959 Time Machine star, Rod Taylor. For reasons unknown to this day, he decided upon Randall, a lightweight comic actor. It was as if Pal was teaching Hollywood a lesson: anyone can be made-up to look like seven different people (actually, six; the Abominable Snowman was Pal’s son, Peter). but it takes a genius to inhabit them. Minus the unique Sellers magic, Pal’s final film sank. Without trace.  Well, Michael Jackson planned a re-hash in 1993.

17 – Richard Burton, Cleopatra, 1963.

18 – Richard Burton, Becket, 1963.  Peter Finch and Albert  Finney entered d the  Henry II mix with Laurence Harvey, Christopher Plummer, Maximilian Schell, when Burton showed scant interest in sharing the billing with the new firebrand, Peter O’Toole. Burton had  his mind changed for him by Elizabeth Taylor, and a bromance was born. “”Nobody could play Becket like he did – as a sort of sacred coal-miner,” said O’Toole. They both won Oscar nods. But the award went to the Rex Harrison  that nobody wanted for My Fair Lady.  Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn played the roles on Broadway; Eric Porter and  Christopher Plummer in London. O’Toole enjoyed Henry II so much, he played him again four years later in The Lion in Winter… opposite Katharine Hepburn’s Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine.

19 – Sean Connery, Thunderball, 1965.

20- Christopher Plummer, Triple Cross, 1966.     First asked by producer Fred Feldkamp in l961 for what was then The Eddie Chapman Story.  He  chose Two Loves (aka The Spinster) , instead.  Neither one was a winner.


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* Each and every Swinging London star was offered  Alfie Jenks, the Cockney Casanova of 1965. James Booth, Anthony Newley, Terence Stamp… and, of course, Laurence Harvey, at the forefront of the British New Wave since  finding  Room  At The Top. 1959.



21  –  Michael  Caine,  Alfie,  1966.     When James Woolf was due to produce the film of the play,  Alfie Jenks  (yes, he has a surname) was, naturally, going to be the producer’s close, er,  friend… Harvey  could never have matched Caine’s delivery:  “Well, what harm can it do? Old Harry will never know. And even if he did, he shouldn’t begrudge me – or her, come to that. And it’ll round off the tea nicely.”

22 – Rock Hudson, Tobruk, 1967.     Scripted by actor Leo Gordon  – “the scariest man I have ever met” said director Don Siegel.

23 – David Niven, Casino Royale, 1966.

24 – Rock Hudson, Ice Station Zebra, 1968.    Harvey ,James Mason and David Niven were all in the loop for Briish spy David Jones in Howard Hughes’ favourite movie.  .  Of course, he was somewhat if not totally bonkers at the time.

25 – Ron Moody, Oliver! 1968.      That idea was like searching for  someone other than Rex Harrison  to star in My Fair Lady. Moody never dreamt he’d be offered the film “because of the backstage hostilities during the original stage show. Carol Reed had never directed a musical before, and took me to lunch to ask me how he should go about it. Once I was officially given the role, I was allowed the freedom to direct myself.”

26 – John  Cassavetes,  Rosemary’s Baby,  1968.     More Frank Sinatra’s choice  than director Roman Polanski’s.. And Frankie didn’t want his Mia Farrow getting  close to studs like Warren Beatty or Robert Redford. Larry had already been Mrs Sinatra’s beard (and director when Anthony Mann died)  during A Dandy In Aspic in London

27 – Trevor  Howard,  The  Charge  of the  Light Brigade, 1968.     Nearly guested as Lord Cardigan in the Woodfall  film disputedly based “on many historical  books and records.”  Including Cecil Woodham Smith’s book, The Reason Why,  rights of which  belonged to Harvey.  He settled for winning  a  slice  of the Woodfall action and a cameo – as a Russian prince, sliced out in editing, although briefly seen in the theatre, close to Howard as the audience shouts: “Black bottle.”  Now is that trivia, or is that trivia!

28 –  David Niven, Prudence and the Pill, 1968. Harvey-Diane Cilento became Niven-Deborah Kerr. ). “An appalling man,” said Robert Stephens of Larry. “And even more unforgivably,  an appalling actor.

29 – Richard Attenborough, A Severed Head, 1971. Novelist Iris Murdoch’s game of musical beds among London’s bourgeoisie had a weak script killing an impressive  cast.  (Brando had been invited to join). Ian Holm’s wine expert has a wife, Lee Remick, cheating with his best friend, Richard Attenborough’s shrink (already involved with Claire Bloom), plus a mistress (Jennie Linden) being stolen by his brother Clive Revill. It just might have worked better with producer Elliot Kastner’s dream team (in above order): Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor (of course), Marlon Brando (the psychologist was originally American), Anouk Aimée, Julie Christie, Robert Shaw. (He also considered Laurence Harvey and Leslie Caron as the shrink and his friend’s wife).

30  – Alain Delon,  The Assassination of Trotsky, 1972.     Another Laurence Harvey Production that got away.


31 –  Richard Harris, The Golden Rendezvous, 1977.     He bought the Alistair Maclean thriller in 1963 to write,  produce, direct and star in after his directing debut, The Ceremony, took off.  Except, it didn’t.

32 – Alan Arkin, The Magician of Lublin, 1979.    Israeli producer-director Menahem Golan gave him Isaac Bashevis Singer’s book while making Escape To The Sun in West Berlin, 1971.  “When Larry died, I lost my magician.  Then, we were going to do it with Anthony Quinn.  We saw a lot of American actors – and  now we have Arkin.  Fantastic!”  As the film might have been… if Milos Forman directed, as planned.

33  –  Timothy  Dalton, The Doctor and The Devils, 1985.     Gore Vidal “polished” the one and only original Dylan Thomas script – by now 32 years old! Nicholas Ray was set to direct Larry (after Maximilian Schell quit) opposite Geraldine Chaplin, Susannah York in Belgrade. Rights eventually passed to photographer-turned-producer  Lawerence Schiller… who asked me in 1982: “Whadderyknow about this Tim Dalton guy?”

34 –  Billy Zane, Dead Calm,  1989.     Orson Welles’ casting some 20 years earlier. Larry was Hughie Warriner, making life at sea hell for the Ingrams (Michael Bryant-Oja Kodar, not Sam Neill-Nicole Kidman). Most Welles films died from lack of funds. This one stopped because  (a) Harvey died (b)  it was “too slight” to be Orson’s next major work after Chimes at Midnight, said biographer Peter Bogdanovich or (c), it was just plain bad. “I’ve seen now all this footage,” reported Welles fan Curtis Hanson, “and it’s very poor. No wonder that he didn’ t want to finish.”

35  – William Hurt, The  Big Brass Ring,  1998.  When musing on his idea about a gay Texas senator and Presidential hopeful,  Orson Welles planed to play Larry’s political mentor. Burt Harvey died before they finished Dead Calm in 1973. By 1984, potential investors said Welles must  sign  Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford or Burt Reynolds…. They all passed. (So did the investors). Some 13 years  after Orson’s death,  Missouri auteur George Hickenlooper adapted the 1982-1987 Welles-Oja Kodar scenarios, with Hurt running for governor of Missouri (aha!) and  collding into his past  – yhr aged political mentor that Welles had reserved  for himelf. Criticised for adapting Welles, Hickenlooper said: “Welles in many respects was the Shakespeare of the American cinema. So, if Welles adapted Shakespeare, why not adapt Welles?

 Birth year: 1928Death year: 1973Other name: Casting Calls:  35