Michèle Morgan


  1. Joan Fontaine, Suspicion, 1941.   RKO had the Before the Fact book since 1935. Somewhere amid the ever changing titles – Last Lover, Love in Irons, Men Make Poor Husbands (too comedic), Search for Tomorrow, Suspicious Lady, Tom & Jerry Go Bowling (I jest) (I think)   –  it was  once due for the  French star as the wealthy victim of her, perhaps, murderous husband.   Until she opened her mouth. Alfred Hitchcock hated her accent. Not suitable for what he called  his second completely British film (after the previous year’s Rebecca).  Fontaine was so determined, she offered to make the film for free. She won Lina. And an Oscar.
  2. Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca, 1941.
  3. Dolores Del Rio,  Journey Into Fear, 1941.   Universal  planned the WWII thriller for Morgan and Fred Astaire(!), Fred MacMurray or Robert Montgomery as the Nazi-hunted US businessman.  At RKO, Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten rewrote it for themselves, several back-room staff at Mercury Productions (including Welles’ secretary. Herb Drake), Mrs Citizen Kane Ruth Warrick and Orson’s lover, Dolores Del Rio.  He also  produced and possibly directed some scenes. Rapidly. Before shooting  off to Brazil to mak It’s All True, while still editing The Magnificent Ambersons. He lost control of them all – and the affair. Soon as the film opened, Dolores  was gone. It was that bad – even at a low 68 minutes. “I designed the film but can’t properly be called the director,” said Welles, adding that the ledge climax was directed by… whoever was closest to the camera.
  4. Mimi Forsythe, Three Russian Girls, 1943.     Garbo and Morgan in the same film…! Almost happened for the US re-make of the 1941 Russian film, The Girl From Leningrad. Oona O’Neill became Tamara, instead. But Charlie Chaplin had other plans for the playwright’s 18-year-old daughter. Chaplin chose her for his fourth final wife in 1943 – to his 1977 death After just three films, Forsythe retired to wed producer Benedict Bogeaus, who left her for Dolores Moran. Mimi’s next marriages ended due to one husband dying, the next divorcing her. She commited suicide in 1952.
  5. Madeleine Sologne, L’Eternal Retour, France, 1943.     From the outset, realisateur Jean Delannoy’s Nathalie (aka Isolde) opposite Jean Marais’ Patrice (aka Tristan) was Morgan. But she lived in America, far from WWII and, therefore missed sharing the Jeannot’s great movie breakthrough.On her retour, they made two films – Aux yeux de souvenir, 1948, Le Château de verre, 1950 – and were hailed as French Cinema’s Ideal Couple.  
  6. Ingrid Bergman, Joan of Arc, 1947.   Almost fetishistic about the role, Bergman formed Sierre Pictures with producer Walter Wanger and director Victor Fleming. And London producer Alexander Korda immediately cancelled plans for a dual-language version with Morgan.
  7. Jane Wyman, Johnny Belinda,  1948.     Having spent a full year perfecting her English, Morgan was offered the role… of a mute!  Alors, non  merci! Studio boss Jack  Warner hated the film and sacked director Jean Negulesco – eventually one of  the 11 Oscar nominees.  Wyman, alone, won and forced Warner to take an ad in the Hollywood trades apologising to cast and crew for shelving the film. Morgan, pregnant by US husband, William Marshall, went home to renewed glory in La Symphonie  Pastorale, winning Best Actress at the first Cannes festival, 1946.
  8. Siobhan McKenna, Daughter of Darkness, 1947.     As Hollywood interest waned,  Britain’s increased: she  quit  this  project for Alexander Korda’s  production of  Graham Greene’s novel, The Fallen Idol… when she famously claimed to be younger than her  nine-year-old co-stare, Bobby Henrey, because she was a Leap Year baby. At 28 she was, therefore, just seven!  
  9. Anna Neagle, Odette, 1950.      Another silly error. To reject the true saga of French resistance heroine Odette Churchill – a major triumph for Anna and film-maker husband Herbert Wilcox.  Yet, even Ingrid Bergman fled from  it.  
  10.  Danielle Darrieux, L’Affaire des Poisons, France, 1955.     Realisateur Claude Autant-Lara planned it for Morgan and Madeleine Robinson. Auteur Henri Decoin made it with his ex-wife and Vivian Romance.  

  11. Deborah Kerr, Bonjour Tristesse, 1957. Producer-director-ogre Otto Preminger   won the rights to the (in)famous first novel by  Francoise Sagan.  Otto wanted Audrey Hepburn as David Niven’s daughter and French screen icon Michèle  Morgan as his new lover.  They became Jean Seberg (his Saint Joan earlier that year) and Deborah Kerr – on location in St Tropez, already made world-famous the previous year by And God Created Woman starring  Brigitte Batdot – who had been  a  Sagan-like teen writing a  scandalous novel in En effeuillant la marguerite (UK: Mam’zelle Striptease; US: Plucking the Daisy) in 1956.

  12. Jeanne Moreau, Le dos au mur (UK: Evidence in Concrete; US: Back to the Wall), France, 1957. Just days before new réalisateurÉdouard  Molinaro started shooting the film noir, Michele Morgan quit.  It was some  years before he found out why. Quite simple, really. The actor and future director Gérard Oury was cast as the husband killing his wife’s lover.  Michele and Gerard were lovers (for the rest of their lives) but she didn’t want this to be made public  by their working together.  Enter: another newcomer. La Moreau  – direct from Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, made by her lover, Louis Malle.

  13. Jeanne Moreau, La Notte, Italy-France, 1960.  “That was my fault.” admitted Morgan about this disintergration of a marriage. “I refused because I knew nothing about the work of [Italian director] Michelangelo Antonioni. And the script they gave me was not what you saw in the film.  But by then it was too late.”
  14. Marina  Vlady,  La  Princesse de Cleves, France,  1961.     Old Wave realisateur Jean Delannoy signed Morgan for Czech locations… in 1946.  By 1961, she was too old,  titularly. Only Jean Marais survived  the long  wait  – but  as the husband, no longer the  lover.  
  15. Laetita Casta, Les âimes fortes, France-Belgium-Switzerland, 2001.      Veteran  realisateur Jean Delannoy planned a version of the classic Jean Giono tale for Morgan and Pierre Fresnay, but the Giono family re fused the proposition. Alexandre Astruc, The Uncle of the New Wave (said Godard), also had rotten luck. After he won the family’s approval and finished a script  with Eric Neuhoff,   the producer  gave the entire project to Chilean director Raoul Ruiz!  Result: “Little of substance to savour,” said Time Out.  NB: One website says Ruiz took it over after Astruc’s death. I’m writing this in May 2015 and Astruc is still with us!

 Birth year: 1920Death year: 2016Other name: Casting Calls:  14