Warner Baxter


  1. Monte Blue, The Marriage Circle, 1924.    Sacked after a few days by director Ernst Lubitsch from the Dr Braun role. Baxter was later famous as Dr Robert Ordway, aka  radio’s Crime Doctor, in ten 40s films in seven years.
  2. John Boles, Careless Lady, 1931.     More like a carelessly chosen couple. Boles and Joan Bennett were quite dreadful. No chemistry, charisma or magic. Zilch!
  3. Edmund Lowe, Thunder in the Night, 1934.      First Adolph Menjou, then Baxter and finally Lowe were set for the Budapest Police Captain Karl Torok investigating a murder in some muddied high society waters. Baxter and his co-star Ketti Gallian were simply transferred to the much tamer Under the Pampas Moon.
  4. Ronald Colman, A Tale of Two Cities, 1935.   For the fourth version of the Charles Dickens classic (the others were dated 1910, 1917, 1921 producer David O Selznick searched for his heroic Sydney Carton among Baxter, Leslie Howard, Clark Gable and Robert Montgomery. Whether they were also due as  Carton’s lookalike, Charles Darney, was never confirmed. Colman refused, due said DOS, to“a dread of dual roles.”     Yet he did just that the following year in MGM’s Prisoner of Zenda.
  5. Basil Rathbone, Confession, 1936.    Change of Leonide Kirow – killed by Kay Francis –  in director Joe May’s rigid shot-by-shot, songs-by-songs, score-by-score, fade-by-fade, dissolve-by-dissolve, time-by time re-hash of Willi Forst’s  1935 German film, Mazurka. As one of the fathers of German cinema (the first to hire Fritz Lang), May should have known better. Would have been easier – cheaper – to dub  the original, already bought by Warner Bros to avoid any other distributor stealing their (mild) thunder.
  6. William Powell, The Baroness and the Butler, 1937.  Baxter and Loretta Young were frogmarched from this sophisticated fun to Wife, Doctor and Nurse – allowing Powell to buttle anew (he had been My Man Godfrey) and introduce the adorable Annabella to US audiences.
  7. Cesar Romero, The Cisco Kid and the Lady, 1939.  Replacing an injured Raoul Walsh (and Buddy Roosevelt), Baxter had created Cisco In Old Arizona, 1929. He also made a second feature and a short, plus two copy-cat versions, The Arizona Kid and Robin Hood of El Dorado, in the 30s. He expected (and was expected) to continue. Fo, however, preferred Romero – in the first of six movies.
  8. John Carradine, Drums Along The Mohawk, 1939.    For his first colour movie, John Ford kept changing people – four actors were dropped. Baxter, Don Ameche, Linda Darnell and Nancy Kelly. Baxter had replaced Fredric March in Ford’s Prisoner of Shark Island, 1935.
  9. Henry Wilcoxon, Scotland Yard, 1939.      Baxter was to play the lead – all three of him! The crooked Dakin Barrolles, the banker Sir John Lasher… and Barrolles disguised as Lasher after plastic surgery! On August 14, head Fox Darryl Zanuck ordered September tests of Baxter. “He has three distinct changes of make-up and we want to work out something very special.” Apparently, they failed. George Sanders was drafted in and objected to “one part of the dual  role.” Zanuck immediately suspended him and called up John Loder. No? OK, Wilcoxon.






 Birth year: 1889Death year: 1951Other name: Casting Calls:  9