Stewart Granger

  1. James Mason, The Wicked Lady, 1945.      Interchangeable opposites.  Jimmy Granger (he was born: James Stewart) won UK stardom by inheriting Mason’s original role in The Man in Grey, 1943, and his Apollodorus in Caesar and Cleopatra, 1945. Here, Mason replaced him. And in his next film, Jimmy  replaced James again.
  2. David Niven, A Matter of Life and Death  (US: Stairway To Heaven), 1946.    “He was the best-looking leading man that I’d seen since James Mason,” noted UK director Michael Powell. (“Too bloody good-looking,” underlined Laurence Olivier who asked Granger to play Stanley Kowalski opposite Vivien Leigh in  the London West End’s Streetcar Named Desire). Powell talked about the main role. “And then  David  Niven strolled on the set and strolled off with the part. I don’t think Jimmy Granger ever quite forgave me… But he bore me no malice.”
  3. Dirk Bogarde, Esther Waters, 1948.     “He didn’t like the part,” Dirk recalled,   “and they pushed me into the lead… I was Godawful!  I remember going to the director and saying: ‘What do I do?’ And he  said:  ‘Well, I don’t know,  my dear.  You’re the actor. I’m the director’ – which I thought was super.  That was my introduction to cinema.”
  4. Robert Taylor, Quo Vadis, 1950.      Director  John Huston tested Granger and  a squeaky-voiced, teenage Elizabeth Taylor for the Roman epic while Jimmy was preparing his Hollywood debut, King Solomon’s Mines, 1950.  Sam Zimbalist, producer of both, was helpless asLB Mayer dumped Jimmy for  refusing an MGM contract. “They showed me your test, ”  Taylor told Granger, “and told me to play the part just like you.”  
  5. Trevor Howard, Outcast of the Islands, 1951.       A three month delay due to the South Pacific climate meant he lost “the chance of working with one of the finest directors in the business.” Carol Reed.
  6. Robert Taylor, Ivanhoe, 1951.     Or,  Ivanscott, as Granger’s agent called it.  Although somewhat tardy about signing a seven-year contract, MGM’s new dashing costumed hero was far more suitable as Sir Walter’s Scott’s hero  – particulary as Taylor had been first been set for the role  when MGM planned it 14 years earlier!  In truth,  both men (twice co-stars)  were too old for the 20-something hero. Taylor was likewise too old for Knights of the Round Table, 1952, and Quentin Durward, 1954 –  “my iron jockstrap movies.”
  7. Mel Ferrer, Scaramouche, 1951.    One plan was to have Jimmy playing both roles. – André Moreau and the Marquis de Maynes  – a test run for his  1952  dual role year inThe Prisoner of Zenda. Yes but Rudolf Rassendyll and King Rudolf V did not have to tackle each other in Hollywood’s greatest sword fight. (For a few years). 
  8. Charlton Heston, The Greatest Show On Earth, 1952.       After seeing director  Cecil B DeMille in action, Granger  knew he would never be able to offer “the  kind of slavish adoration shown by all around him and which he obviously demanded.”  Jean Kent expressed it best : “Oh, he loved himself, he really loved himself.”
  9. Peter Lawford, Rogue’s March, 1952. To follow the surprise success of Kim, MGM found another tale set in India. A kind of One Feather, as ex-Captain Peter Lawford fights to recover  his good name.  John Douglas Eames called it an Eastern – “no cowboys, but lots of Indians.”  Lawford’s final Metro movie. He was getting better roles when loaned out to other studios (such as Kangeroo for Fox)  while being paid $2,000 a week for rotten parts in rotten Metro movies. As MGM’s box-office figures sank to their lowest  for 20 years, his contract was not renewed. Also dumped: Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Greer Garson, Esther Williams and an old Lawford flame, June Alyson.
  10. Clark Gable, Mogambo, 1953.        Granger had suggested the Scaramouche re-make, now he was talking about revamping Red Dust. MGM agreed it for him, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner.  Then, MGM’s production chief Dore Schary said: “Your career is going great guns but Gable – he needs a good  picture and we’ve got to keep The King happy.”   That’s how Gable re-made his own 1932 movie, with Ava and Grace Kelly, while Granger was given “a crappy melodrama.”  All The Brothers Were Valiant.

  11. Marlon Brando, Julius Caesar, 1953.      Dore Schary’s choice of the MGM pactees was so objectionable to director Joseph L Mankiewicz that he almost fled the Shakespearean project. Brando found the idea “fucking scary”  until Mank helped him “stop copying the goddamm Limeys – you sound like June Allyson.”  For Mankiewicz, Brando was “the single greatest acting talent in the English language  of this [20th] century, better than Clift, Orson and Burton” or Olivier’s “giant computer of programmed reactions.”
  12. Burt Lancaster, From Here To Eternity, 1953.
  13. James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953.
  14. Cornel Wilde, The Scarlet Coat, 1955.     After the highs of Scaramouche, 1952, this was far too tepid for what London’s Daily Mirror called “the most unpopular Englishman in Hollywood”  He had made “all sorts of rubbish to pay the bills so that Jean (Simmons, his second  wife) could wait for better parts… I’ve never done a film I’m proud of.”  Gtranger’s usual co-star, Robert Taylor, was next  up for the US secret agent versus Michael Wilding in his final (and best) MGMovie.  Within two years, Liz Taylor would also dump Wilding. 
  15. Robert Taylor, Quentin Durward, 1955.     Ivanhoe all over again… No one understood the title even after The Adventures of  was added to MGM director Richard Thorpe  tackling Sir Walter Scott again… following 1820’s  Ivanhoe in 1951.  With exactly the same mis-casting. Web critic Derek Winnert said Taylor swashed a spirited buckle as the 15th Century Scottish hero, Maybe. Just not as much as Granger would have done. In both mini epics. 
  16. David Oxley, Ill Met By Moonlight, 1957.     Director Michael Powell wanted big names to support (save!) Dirk Bogarde’s hero. The Rank Organisation did not agree and without them, Bogarde delivered  “a picture-postcard hero in fancy dress.” Powell was amazed that the real hero, Major Patrick Leigh-Fermor, did not sue  them both.
  17. Gary Cooper, Man of the West, 1957.      John Wayne was first up for Link, But Cooper was the purely existential hero in Jean-Luc Godard’s favourite Western. He called it the best film of ’58 – above Touch of Evil and Vertigo! Director Anthony Mann refused to think of his usual cowboy star, James Stewart. They’d fallen out after five films together.   Maybe that’s why Mann disregarded Granger… his real names was James Stewart. Coop matched the film. Boring.
  18. Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1958.    Sword and sandal epics were in.  And producer Sam Zimbalist, who’d made one of the biggest – Quo Vadis, 1950 –  was back in Rome, re-making the 1923 silent Ben-Hur           Losing Messala were Kirk Douglas (now you know why he became  Spartacus), Charlton Heston (who became Judah Ben-Hur). Plus New Yorker Ray Danton, British Stewart Granger (from Quo Vadis), Welsh Ronald Lewis, Canadian Leslie Nielsen, way too  old Robert Ryan (when way too old Burt Lancaster was to be Judah Ben-Hur) and Scottish. Bill Travers. Were they bright enough to comprehend what Heston never twigged  –  that “contributing writer” Gore Vidal implied Judah and Messala had been lovers. 
  19. Stephen Boyd, Ben-Hur, 1959.     …However,  MGM did offer Messala  – opposite Brando (allegedly, once a Granger lover), then Robert Taylor, then… well,  Granger’s agent  refused  to allow him “to play  second fiddle” to Heston. By the time, Granger agreed, it had been cast elsewhere. “I was a good costume actor but I shortened my career because I made wrong choices.” Mrs G,  was also considered and, said Granger, the Rome shoot might have saved their rocky marriage.
  20. Roger Moore, The Miracle, 1959.        Director Irving Rapper wanted Jean Simmons.. She was keen – if husband Stewart Granger was her  co-star. Rapper, however, wanted Dirk Bogarde… who refused and  suggested Moore although they had never met.  And
  21. never did. Apparently, Bogarde’s longtime  lover, Anthony Forward, made sure of that.

  22. Steve McQueen, The Magnificent Seven, 1960.       Hard to believe that the Western making new genration stars out of Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, etc, was originally aimed in 1959 at old hats Granger, Clark Gable, Glenn Ford, in 1959. And just two newer guys: Anthony Franciosa, Dean Jones. All to be directed by Yul Brynner, already in a bitter dispute with Anthony Quinn and producer Lou Morheim over the rights to the source material: Japanese maestro Akira Kurosawa’s Shichinin no samurai/Seven Samurai, 1953. Brynner’s title was The Magnificent Six. Like re-making Ben-Hur as Ben Herbie.  
  23. Rod Steiger,Seven Thieves, 1959.  Inbetween Anne Bancroft’s stripper and  thieves Richard Widmark , Fredric March becoming  Joan Collins, Rod Steiger and Edward G Robinson – Stewart Granger and his wife, Jean Simmons, were meant to heist the Monaco casino. Their thunder was totally stolen by Frank Sinatra’s Clan as Ocean’s Eleven… robbing five Vegas casinos in one night.
  24. Dirk Bogarde, Victim, 1961.      Aw c’mon, that would have made white sideburns questionable forever more… Jimmy was suggested as the barrister threatened by his homosexual affair after refusals by Jack Hawkins and James Mason.  The breakthrough film helped rescue Bogarde’s career from comic doctors and campy Spanish bandidos.
  25. Michael Lonsdale, Moonraker, 1979.
  26. Anthony Sharp, House of Mortal Sin (US: The Confessional), 1976.       Scaramouche reduced to work (maybe) for Pete Walker… the UK schlocker of School Fot Sex, Cool It Carol!, The Flesh and Blood Show, House of Whipcord, Schizo, etc!   Peter Cushing passed on being, as Time Out put it, a crazed old Catholic priest terrorising a young girl after hearing her confession… He was too busy and not, as rumours insisted, hating the scenario. UK director Pete Walker then offered Father Xavier Meldrum to Granger, Harry Andrews, plus (said Steve Chinball’s Walker book), Lee J Cobb and Richard Greene.

 Birth year: 1913Death year: 1993Other name: Casting Calls:  26