Phillip Holmes


  1. Fredric March, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1931.    The trouble with Holmes, said director Rouben Mamoulian, was that he’d be a great Jekyll but a lousy Hyde. (Vice-versa with the similarly nixed Irving Pichel). Paramount chief Adolph Zukor was also unimpressed with March – he won the first of his two Oscars and launched a whole new career.
  2. Joel McCrea, Rockabye, 1932.      RKO’s worst year and Holmes was caught in the crossfire – sacked by director George Cukor after two weeks. Neither Cukor or McCrea could improve producer David O Selznick’s huge flop opposite a miscast Constance Bennett. She was finished at RKO within a year, by which time, Selznick and Cukor had joined MGM.  
  3. Robert Young, Today We Live, 1932.      MGM wanted Holmes as Claude – battling fellow WW1 officer Clark Gable for Joan Crawford’s Diana. She would have eaten him alive. Besides, director Howard Hawks had not been impressed by the young man in The Criminal Code, 1930.By the time Gable was out and Coop in, Hawks got his way… for the first of his four movies scripted by William Faulkner.    A fine actor for Arzner, Lubitsch and Von Sternberg,  Holmes was killed in the WW11.
  4. Joel McCrea, Bed of Roses, 1932.    During shooting, there was a sudden change of Dan, the New Orleans barge skipper, falling for Constance Bennett’s toxically mercenary ex-con.
  5. Franchot Tone, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, 1934.  Gary Cooper was Lieutenant  Alan McGregor.  No question about that! But who should have second  billing as Lieutenant John Forsythe?   There were (at least) seven candidates…  Ronald Colman, Douglas  Fairbanks Jr (high-jacked by The Rise of Catherine the Great), Cary Grant (he headlined Gunga Din, a far better three Brit soldiers in India actioner in 1938; better writer, too – Rudyard Kipling!),  Philip Holmes,  Fredric March, Ray Milland and Henry Wilcoxon – involved, as always, with Cecil B DeMille’s latest endeavour, The Crusades. Henry was the English King Richard – his nickname for evermore.



 Birth year: 1909Death year: 1942Other name: Casting Calls:  5