Ray Milland

  1. Warner  Baxter,  The Squaw Man,  1931.    Director Cecil B DeMille, shooting his pet story a third time, rejected the new Brit in town.
  2. Fred MacMurray, Hands Across The Table, 1935.     Finding Carole Lombard too highly strung in We’re Not Dressing, 1934, Milland “didn’t want any part of it.” Being more diplomatic, Mitchell Leisen said it was because comedy scared Milland.
  3. Richard Cromwell, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, 1935. Action director Henry Hathaway went through two of three trios – including Ronald Colman, Cary Grant and Milland.
  4. Alan Marshall, The Garden of Allah, 1936.     Investing his all in Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer, producer David O Selznick lost Ray and David Niven along the way.
  5. John Howard, Bulldog Drummond Comes Back, 1937. 
    In the previous Bulldog Drummond Escapes, Milland was the British hero created in 1920 by Sapper (HC McNeile), Ray quickly noticed  that  Paramount  didn’t quite know which way to go as the title changed from  Bulldog Drummond Saves a Lady to Bulldog Drummond’s Holiday… or, simply,  Romance.  Milland knew exactly which way to go – and that was out.  John Howard took over for the next seven  adventures. In the 30s.  Hugh Drummond  was a WWI officer bored with Civvy Street. As the films went on – 24 in all – he became a veteran of WWII and even, Korea! He made his (silent) screen debut  in the  1922 British Bulldog Drummond, with Carlyle Blackwell. He had since been played by more actor than James Bond…  song ‘n’ dance man Jack Buchanan, Rod La Roque (The Girl was Sue Carol, second wife of Alan Ladd), Kenneth McKenna, Ralph Richardson,  Ronald Colman (his first  talkie), Atholl Fleming, John Lodge,  Ron Randell, Tom Conway… Hitchcock wanted to make Bulldog Drummond’s Baby in 1933!   In Water Pidgeon’s 1950 entry, Richard Johnson had a support role and he became the 60s’ Drummond (all jazzed up with just Bondian bikini babes on the posters) for two movies produced by Betty E Box… who had confessed to me in the 60s, that her worst  error  was rejecting  a certain book called… Casino Royale. Johnson, in fact, was Terence Young’s  main choice for 007 in Dr No, 1962. He would have been awful if he was as glum as  his Drummond.

  6. Cary Grant, Bringing Up Baby, 1937.     The Three Ms – Fredric March, Ray MIlland, Robert Montgomery – passed on paleontologist David Huxley. Likewise, Ronald Colman and Leslie Howard – who -preferred Alexander Korda’s production of Lawrence of Arabia, which never happened. Cary wasn’t sure he  could  play an intellectual. “Hah,” said director Howard Hawks., “Cary was right on on from  the first day.  This was his kind of role and he  just took to it naturally..”  The trouble, he added, was Katharine Hepburn. Unlike Grant, she was not naturally funny.  Christopher Reeve said he baed Clark Kent in his four Superman films on the Huxley role. Grant and Hawks made  four more  movies, the most Hawks  ever made  with the same actor.  

  7. Cary Grant, Holiday, 1938.     Ronald Colman and Robert Montgomery also refused.
  8. Leslie Howard, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  9. Douglas Fairbanks Jr,  Gunga Din, 1938.    “From the pages if history and the pen of Rudyard Kipling…”  The always nervous Grant persuaded producer Pando Berman to let him swop roles with Douglas Fairbanks Jnr and play Cutter. OK, said Berman, And the ex-Archibald Leach renamed him Archibald Cutter. In 1936, Berman had first attempted the tale  with Ronald Colman (or Robert Donat) and Spencer Tracy. In 1937, he wanted Ray Milland and Franchot Tone. By the 60s, Cannon Films’ Go Go Boys – Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus – sought Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Roger Moore for a re-make.
  10. Don Ameche, Midnight, 1938.     In the mix for the millionaire asking chorus girl Claudette Colbert to help save his marriage. (No, really!). (Well, it was a Billy Wilder script). Mitch  ell Leisen won the directing credits, although two crews were used, Hal Walker directing the second, to help free Ameche for The Story of Alexander Graham Bell. Fox didn’t want him phoning it in…

  11. Henry Fonda, The Lady Eve, 1940.     For his deliciously sexy comedy, director Preston Sturges went through various combos for the con-woman chasing an heir to zillions… In 1938, the rascally gal was Claudette Colbert. In July, the couple was Joel McCrea and Madeleine Carrol, then Milland and Paulette Goddard. By August, Carroll and Fred MacMurray. In September, Fox loaned Henry Fonda to join Goddard – and they wound up as Fonda and Stanwyck… at her wicked best. And then Sturges claimed he wrote it for her. Oh really!
  12. Robert Preston, The Night of January 16th, 1940.   Paramount spent much money buying Ayn Rand’s play, Woman on Trial – and sued Don Ameche for rejecting the script as non-Ameche material… thus losing Barbara Stanwyck as leading lady. Milland was then signed opposite Paulette Goddard – and they churned into Robert Preston and Ellen Drew. Studio and Ameche kissed and made up when Ameche agreed to Kiss the Boys Goodbye. If you see what I mean.
  13. Don Ameche, Kiss the Boys Goodbye, 1940.  Paramount and Ameche kissed and made up when Ameche agreed to be a New York producer searching down South for the next Broadway star.
  14. Gary Cooper, For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942.    Ousted in excellent company…  Robert Donat,  Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, Sterling Hayden, Joel McCrea, Tyrone Power. Because Ernest Hemingway insisted on Gary Cooper (and Ingrid Bergman). He’d had them in mind when writing the book
  15. Spencer Tracy, State of the Union, 1947.     Milland was not available to run for US President… for release during the 1948 conventions. Nor were Cary Cooper or Clark Gable. Finally, Tracy said it was about time he worked with Frank Capra – and Union became the third of Tracy and Katharine Hepburn’s nine films.
  16. John Lund, Bride of Vengeance, 1949.    “The only film I refused during 21 years at Paramount…  The czars still suspended him (he went off ski-ing and fishing). “Horrible title, horrible script,” said Milland.  “Same story as Prince of Foxes.”  It would have been his fifth film with Paulette Goddard. An unmitigated bomb, it opened and closed the same week in New York.  Producer Richard Maibaum (first scenarist of the Bond films) was always convinced that Milland was behind the critical roasting
  17. Alan Ladd, Botany Bay, 1952.   First Joel McCrea in 1941, then Milland 1946  were keen on playing what little Ladd called “a hell of a hero… I kill nine guys and duel and talk and talk and talk and make love all over the place. Don’t miss me. I’m very big.” Yet James Mason, as his sadistic best, stole the entire seafaring tale.
  18. Alan Ladd, Shane, 1952.    Director George Stevens’ first ideas were Milland or Monntgomery Clift as the traditional Western loner. Alan Ladd was a fortuitous  afterthought.  As age six, Billy Crystal was taken to the movie by his babysitter  – Billie Holliday!  When the kid kept calling “Come back, Shane” as Ladd rode off at the end, her voice of bitter experience declared: “He ain’t never comin’ back!”
  19. Alan Ladd, The Red Beret (US: Paratrooper), 1952.    London’s Warwick Films plan of cheaply hiring fading Hollywood stars for UK movies started here with Alan Ladd as a “Canadian” joining the British Army’s paras. Cubby Broccoli used his Hollywood contacts to win the stars – Ladd three times, Rhonda Fleming, Rita Hayworth, Van Johnson, Victor Mature (six), Ray Milland, Jack Palance, Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark  (twice) – and Irving Allen kept the purse-strings taut.  A mere $200,000, for example.   And one could say it all began when the British screen’s #1 WWII hero, Richard Todd, refused this movie for being “far-fetched.” Ladd quit Warwick as soon as his Shane struck gold – ironically, that role had first been offered to Milland! 
  20. James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953.

  21. Alec Guinness, The Bridge On The River Kwai,  1956.   Producer Sam Spiegel was more keen than director David Lean on Milland for Nicholson. Sam also sussed out: Ronald Colman, John Gielgud, Cary Grant, Charles Lauaghton, James Mason, Laurence Olivier, Eric Portman, Anthony Quayle, Ralph Richardson – and Spencer Tracy, who bluntly told Spiegel that the mad Colonel  had  to be an Englishman. “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch a stiff-upper-lip British colonel for two and a half hours,” said Guinnses. So, Sam took him to dinner. “He was very persuasive.” Of course, he was. In the 50s/60s,  to “Spiegel” was  LA parlance meaning to cajole, manipulate or con. That’s how producer Spiegel won his deals, casts, women – and Guinness. “I started out maintaining that I wouldn’t play the role and by the end of the evening, we were discussing what kind of wig I would wear.”
  22. Dirk Bogarde, Campell’s Kingdom, 1957.    Even when replacing a top Hollywood name, Bogarde felt that Rank boss John Davis (The Chief Accountant!) wanted him to be like  seaside rock – “sweet and sickly and forgettable.”
  23. Dean Martin, Rio Bravo, 1958.
  24. Lew Ayres, The Carpetbaggers,1963.  Last minute change of McAllister – known, but of course, as just Mac – in the first of New York producer Joseph E Levine’s three snitty/snotty movies about Hollywood – followed by Harlow, 1964 (also with Carr0ll Baker)  and  The Oscar, 1965. Each one was worse than the precedent.
  25. Joseph Cotton, Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga (US: Baron Vampire), West Germany-Italy, 1971.     When Vincent Price turned him down, Italian horrorsmith Mario Bava moved on to Milland – and finally settled for another Hollywood veteran.
  26. Don Ameche, Trading Places, 1983.     The old Don was still around 43 years later. And he was cheaper. Pus, he had the publicity cachet of making a comeback.

 Birth year: 1905Death year: 1986Other name: Casting Calls:  24