Vincent Price

  1. Charles Boyer, The Garden of Allah, 1935.   Obviously, Price  was keen to be Marlene Dietrich’s ex-monk lover.   Producer David O Selznick was not.
  2. Leslie Howard, Gone With The Wind, 1938.
  3. Henry Daniell, Jane Eyre, 1943.  “Call me Vinny…” was testing as Brocklehurst in February 1943 – after a Fox press release announced Glen Gallagher in the role.
  4. Frank Fenton, Buffalo Bill, 1943.     Price fled when the role of Muddo Carvell was drastically trimmed by director William “Wild Bill” Wellman. Many of the uncredited players had more lines than Fenton! After all, the emphasis was Joel McCrea as the movies’ first William Frederick ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, 1846-1917.
  5. Lionel Barrymore, It’s A Wonderful Life, 1945.
  6. Victor Mature, My Darling Clementine, 1945.    Sam Peckinpah’s  favourite Western… Back from WWII as a flying hero, James Stewart  was none too sure if he should continue acting. It seemed so superficial after all he seen.  First role to interest Colonel Stewart was the dying Doc Holliday opposite pal (and alleged lover) Henry Fonda (back from the US Navy) as Wyatt Earp.   Passing on Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Tyrone Power  or Vincent Price, head Fox Darryl Zannuck voted Jim.  Rubbish, said director John Ford, also just back from WWII.   “He couldn’t play the part.”  And Mature could?  Indeed, he did! Fonda still called it one of Ford’s biggest mistakes. 
  7. Richard Greene, Forever Amber, 1946.     All set for  Lord Harry Almsbury opposite Peggy Cummins’ Amber – until director Otto Preminger re-shot it with Linda Darnell and Sanders.  Wasting nary a penny, Fox quickly shoved Price and the Welsh girlinto a dull Victor Mature thriller, Moss Rose.
  8. George Sanders, All About Eve, 1950.
  9. Jack Buchanan, The Band Wagon, 1952.    The role?  Jeffrey Cordova, a flamboyant director based on,  well, take your pick: José Ferrer, George S Kaufman, Orson Welles…  The choices? Price, Edward G Robinson or Clifton Webb.   Gradually, Cordova churned into the UK Fred Astaire – dancing opposite the US Astaire.  Fine, but… oh, the horror…! Imagine the  original  plan: “Triplets”  sung by Astaire, Nanette Fabray and… Dr. Phibes..
  10. Edward G Robinson, The Ten Commandments, 1954.

  11. EG Marshall, The Buccaneer, 1958.       Change of Louisiana Governor Claiborne in the terrible re-hash of CB De Mille’s 1937 version. Yul Brynner abandoned the idea of directing himself as the titular pirate Jean Lafitte in the 1812 US/UK war – and CB asked (er, coerced) his son-in Anthony Quinn to take over. He had played Beluche in the first version and knew CB wanted a first-time director he could boss around. Sure enough, he hated Quin’s work, ordered re-shoots and was dead a month after the premiere. The original plan had been a musical. Couldn’t have been any worse.
  12. Michael Gough, Horrors of the Black Museum, 1959. US critic Tim Lucas said Gough not only chewed but gargled the scenery in the egomaniacal role of a crime writer first intended by co-writer and co-producer Herman Cohen for Price.
  13. Peter Sellers, Mr. Topaze, 1961.    Impressed with his kind of man opposite Jane Russell inHis Kindof Woman, movie mogul HowardHughes signed Vinny fornew version of playwright Marcel Pagnol’s French classic. Nothing happened until Sellers directed himself (too timidly) in the footsteps of Jouvet, Fernandel, John Barrymore. The film flopped. All prints. but one were melted down, the residue sent to Nigeria and recycled into combs.“You mean,” said fellow Goon Spike Milligan,“there are women in Africa combing their hair with Peter Sellers?”
  14. Ray Milland, Premature Burial, 1961.    During a dispute wih AIP, Roger Corman spirited his latest Edgar Allen Poe subject away and chose Milland to replace Vincent Price  – who was under AIP contract. Having talked (well, threatened) Pathe Labs out of the deal, the horror finished up as an AIP movie. Of course.
  15. Jon Pertwee, The House That Dripped Blood, 1970.    The role? Horror movie star Paul Henderson.  Hardly a stretch.
  16. John Carson, Taste The Blood of Dracula, 1970.         Part of the Price legend is Vincent was going to play a fourth member of the Thrill Seekers but budget cuts removed his (expensive) part – shared out among Carson… 
  17. Geoffrey Keen, Taste The Blood of Dracula, 1970.   … and  Keen…
  18. Peter Sallis,Taste The Blood of Dracula, 1970. … and  Sallis.
  19. Jason Robards, Murders in the Rue Morgue, 1970.    Often more in tune with Hammer’s  Phantom Of The Opera – Herbert Lom still wearing his mask…  Gordon Hessler was due for his fourth AIP film with Price, when “call me, Vinny”   did a moody and, to his surprise, Robards found himself in the horror league , plus   on Spanish locations in Madrid and Toledo.
  20. Joseph Cotton, Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga (US: Baron Vampire), West Germany-Italy, 1971.    Italian horrorsmith Mario Bava tried to interest Price into becoming his Baron Blood, then Ray Milland and finally another old-time agreed to the Vienna locations.  

  21. Charles Gray, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1974.       Damn, said Vinny! He’d seen the West End musical, loved The Criminologist – “An Expert” – and wanted to play him. Except, when the offer arrived, his diary was too full.
  22. Ernest Borgnine, The Devil’s Rain, 1974.  Ernie inherited the lead –  head Satanist Jonathan Corbus –  from Price and did his best but the movie is remembered (if at all) as John Travota’s debut and, like  so much to follow, a flop. In 2010, Ernie declared the budget was Mafia money (and he’d never been paid!), while in his book that same year, Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies, Australian critiic Michael Adams pronounced it the ultimate cult movie.  “It’s about a cult, has a cult following, was devised with input from a cult leader, and saw a future superstar indoctrinated into a cult he’d help popularise.”
  23. Philip Madoc, Doctor Who #84: The Brain of Morbius, TV, 1976.      There was a definite touch of Frankenstein in the script which led director Christopher Barry to try and land Price or Peter Cushing to play Solon. No thank you…! Cushing had starred in Dr Who and the Daleks, 1964, and Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150, 1965 – rotten re-treads of BBC episodes (a third was cancelled) Next? John Bennett and Madoc. Anti sex/violence campaigner Mary Whitehouse said the four-parter was “the sickest and most horrific material seen on children’s television.” Up to 10.2m viewers disagreed. Plus Doc4 Tom Baker.
  24. Peter Cushing, The Uncanny, Canada-UK, 1977.     Canadian director Denis Héroux went through the usual triplets: Christopher Lee, Price and… Cushing was free to be the horror writer discovering cats are supernatural.
  25. Leslie Nielsen,  Airplane!, 1979.  “And don’t call me Shirley!” Directors David and Jerry Zucker (with Jim Abrahams) sent up overly serious movies by dubbing their own improvised dialogue.  When they  caught Zero Hour! – a 1957 film about an ex-WWII pilot landing a stricken passenger flight – they thought: “Why don’t we recreate the whole thing?” Thus, Airplane’s conception. They wrote it as a comedy for non-comics, a concept so new that no one understood it. Except Paramount’s Michael Eisner. Various actors, including Vincent Price and Dragnet’s Jack Webb, refused Dr Rumack, which made a whole new star out of Nielsen, a longtime character man. “His  timing was impeccable. He was born to do comedy but was trapped in serious roles for years… We told the actors to pretend that they didn’t know they were in a comedy.”  Said co-star Robert Stack: “I get it – we’re the joke!”
  26. Ed(ward) Ivory, The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1992.    Price recorded Santa’s dialogue but he was weak and ailing after the death of his wife. Patrick Stewart was too booked to join the toon version of Tim Burton’s poem,   written when he was a Disney animator in the 80s. Henry Selick directed as Burton was tied up with Batman Returns and Ed Wood to come.
  27. Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015.    The Price was right as far back as 1986! After all, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko based their hero’s look upon Price and gave Stephen Strange the middle name of… Vincent. Among those flown up Marvel’s 21st Century flagpole were TV doc Patrick Dempsey, Colin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Joaquin Phoenix (too strange!), Keanu Reeves (listed but never approached – how wise), Justin Theroux. Finally, the production wisely waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stage triumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison… and should head the MCU when Robert Downey pawned his ironmongery.




 Birth year: 1911Death year: 1993Other name: Casting Calls:  27