Richard Conte

  1. William Holden, Golden Boy, 1938.         His test for the Columbia film of Clifford Odets’ play won Conte – a Fox contract, kicking off that same year with Heaven with a Barbed Wire Fence (also the debut of Glenn Ford). Nicholas Conte’s name was changed for Guadalcanal Diaru, the second of his 95 screen roles as Richard Conte.
  2. Larry Parks,  The Jolson  Story,  1946.       Mama, you ain’t indeed heard nuttin’ yet…!  Surprise choice from  the horrible Columbia honcho Harry Cohn after James Cagney and  Danny Thomas rejected an even more surprising smash-hit.  Poor Parks was still black-listed  – ruined! – by such oafs as Senator Joe McCarthy and numbnuts Ward Bond. 
  3. Victor Mature, Cry of the City, 1947.       Film noir specialist Robert Siodmak made his choice – Conte as the cop chasing cop-killer Mature – but the studio swapped them around. Fox didn’t want Mature as a crook for a third time, nor Conte as his (then) usual sypathetic type again. Both were excellent (their finest work)  but Conte had by far the the better role. And knew it. 
  4. James Mason, Caught, 1948.     Conte went when MGM decided that Dr Larry Quinada would make the perfect Hollywood debut for Mason. Against type, too, as Robert Ryan played the sadistic character.    
  5. Leo Genn, The Snake Pit, 1947.   Director Anatole Litvak saw Conte and Joseph Cotten but settled on the the British Genn as Olivia De Havilland’s  shrink who, noted New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, “works beneath the benign portraits of Freud.”
  6. Victor Mature, Thieves’ Highway, 1948.     As titles switched from The Red of My Blood (for the unpublished book) to Hard Bargain, Collision and Thieves’ Market (for the published novel), so did the hero – vengeful trucker Nick Garcos. Mature did not want another hood – and passed it to the other Fox guys, Dana Andrews or Conte.
  7. Robert Mitchum, My Forbidden Past, 1950.   As part of her $150,000 (plus 10%) per film deal, Ann Sheridan  had script, director and co-star approval. When Robert Young had to leave, she listed her choices of replacements: Conte, Mitchum, Charles Boyer, John Lund, Franchot Tone. Then, Howard Hughes bought RKO, dumped Sheridan and coupled Mitchum with Ava  Gardner. (Sheridan sued RKO and won big money – and another movie, Appointment in Honduras).
  8. Gary Merrill, The Frogmen, 1950. Change of Lieutenant Commander Peter Vincent in the war film about the Navy SEALS forerunner: UDTs. Underwater Demolition Teams. 
  9. Gregory Peck, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1951.    Brando, Bogie, or outsiders Conte and Dale Robertson – didn’t matter who was Harry Street. Because author Ernest Hemingway disliked the movie for  swiping chapters from his other novels to pump up  this  simple tale of a dying Peck  mulling over a wasted career.  Hemingway, however, adored Ava Gardner.  “And  the hyena!” 
  10. Edmund Purdom, The Egyptian, 1953.   Once Brando split for his New York shrink’s couch, head Fox Darryl Zanuck scurried around searching for a new Sinuhe, the court physician – Conte, Dirk Bogarde, John Cassevetes, Montgomery Clift, John Derek, Rock Hudson, John Lund, Guy Madison, Hugh O’Brian, Michael Pate. Fox borrowed MGM’s wooden Purdom and sued Brando for $2m, settled when he agreed to make (the much worse) Désirée.   Or Daisy-Rae as he called the one that got away from Napoleon. 
  11. Marlon Brando, The Godfather, 1971.
  12. Henry Silva, Milano odia: la polizia non può sparare (US: Almost Human,  Italy, 1973.  Tuscan director Umberto Lenzi chose Conte for top cop  Commissario Walter Grandi.  Then Conte died from a heart attack in LA and Silva was rushed into his war with a Milan serial killer. Silva had been making various 60s/70s Italian thud ’n’ blunders at the time winning such  English lingo titles  as Kidnap, The Manhunt, The Hills Run Red, Assassination, The Boss, The Italian Connection, leading to the French Insolent and Germany’s Battle of  the Godfathers

 Birth year: 1910Death year: 1975Other name: Casting Calls:  12