Warren Beatty

1. – Troy Donahue, Parrish, 1961.  

Josh Logan tested Beatty with Jane Fonda.  “We were thrown together like lions in a cage and told to kiss…  I  leaned over and kissed her cheek. Logan demanded if that was the best I could do, so l threw myself  on Jane and kissed her and held that kiss. Cut! And we held it…   We kissed until we had practically eaten each other’s head off.  And   somebody finally pried us apart. ‘Well,’  I said, ‘that  felt pretty  good.’ Logan signed me… didn’t even wait to see the  test itself.” However Logan cancelled a memorable debut when he could not obtain his desired parents: Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara!  No youngster’s career could have withstood such a start.

2.- Anthony Perkins, Tall Story, 1960.      Remembering their passionate Parrish test, stage-screen director Joshua Logan was determined to star Beatty and Jane Fonda in this campus romance until the brothers Warner and his own agent insisted on Perkins. “You have to have someone with some kind of name… especially if you are going to use Jane Fonda, who has not appeared on the screen so far.”

3. –  George Hamilton, Where The Boys Are, 1960.      The year before, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner called him “Warren Beasley.” He was “sitting out in California doing nothing,” and known only as Shirley MacLaine’s brother and Joan Collins’ lover.  And so desperate to get started, he even tested for this teenage froth.

4. –  Christopher Knight, Studs Lonigan, 1960.      Although still awaiting a movie debut, Beatty rejected the James T. Farrell novel. Scripter-producer Philip Yordan had offered him  the lead “but he couldn’t get along with the director Irving Lerner and Lerner fired him.  Why?  “Because I wanted too much money,” was the Beatty version told to Jack Nicholson, playing his fifth and then finest screen role of… Weary Reilly.

5. –  George Hamilton, All The Fine Young Cannibals, 1960.  Just not that desperate…  His co-stars would have included future lover Natalie Wood.

6.  –  George Peppard, The Subterraneans, 1960.  And this one (based on Jack Kerouac’s book) starred another future lover, Leslie Caron. This is how MGM treated Beatty: he was “the next Troy Donahue, ” not ”ripe” enough for the films he aspired to.

7. – George Hamilton, By Love Possessed, 1960. Actors aged between 21 and 31 were seen for  Lana Turner’s son in  a moronic copy-Peyton-Place soap.  They included Hamilton, Laurence Harvey, John Saxon.  And Warren Beatty  who complained that Efrem Zimbalist Jr , even at 42, did not look old enough to be his father.

8. – Jason Robards, Tender Is The Night, 1961. Producer David Selznick first tried to film F Scott Fitzgerald’s last completed novel at RKO in 1951,  with his wife, Jennifer Jones and Cary Grant –  who disapproved of  Dr Dick Diver, the shrink falling for his patient.  George Cukor decided on Elizabeth Taylor and Glenn Ford (!), John Frankenheimer voted for Warren Beatty or  Christopher Plummer. Veteran toughie Henry King helming Jones with a miscast Robards was a fiasco.  Other potential Dicks over the years had been Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman and true Brits Dirk Bogarde and Richard Burton.   Hmm, Burton and Taylor – now that would  have worked.

9.   –  Richard Beymer, West Side Story, 1961.     MCAgent Maynard Morris persuaded producer Walter Mirisch to let Beatty audition for Tony.  Made sense, although Beatty couldn’t sing either… (Beymer was dubbed by Jimmy Byrant). Natalie Wood wanted Beatty, too! And got him for Splendour in the Grass that year. Director Robert Wise brought him back for second time, noting his “excellent quality” but fretting about his singing voice. “Beymer wasn’t happy with his performance,” reported co-star Russ Tamblyn. “He thought he was miscast: he was from a farm in Indiana and had no street sense whatsoever.  He needed a lot of direction and didn’t get it. They just stuck fake teeth in his mouth!”

10 –   Richard Beymer, Hemingway’s  Adventures of a Young Man, 1961.     Beymer wins again  after negotiations with Beatty fell through.  Beymer’s next work was Beatty’s Tony-nominated role from A Loss of Roses in the film version: The Stripper. Beatty finally got rolling with Splendour in the Grass and was introduced to the media by Jack Warner, himself, as  ”our next big star, Warner Beaker.”  


11 – Cary Grant, Charade, 1962.  Aka “the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made.” As per usual (particularly for  his hits), Cary Grant refused the thriller and Universal immediately decided to go younger – Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood.  By which time, again as he always did, Cary changed his mind and despite all the usual age-gap guff, Audrey Hepburn was rather older than his recent partners. Cary  made sure  Audrey  chased him.  Worked every time. They made a delicious team – as producers had tried tp prove before, with Roman Holiday and My Fair Lady. Fifteen years later, Cary was still hot – and Beatty was offering him $1m to play God in Heaven Can Wait, 1977.  

12 –    Steve McQueen, The War Lover, 1962.     Beatty made love, not war. “How am I doing?” he almost said with winks to writer Sally Ogle Davis confronted by his love-making at a Hollywood party.

13 –  Laurence Harvey, Walk on the Wild Side, 1962.   His first film had wrapped, now he wanted a switch from Bud Stamper, and chose “an obnoxious pimp” called Dove Linkhorn. Harvey said kissing Capucine was like “kissing the side of a beer bottle.” Beatty quit What’s New Pussycat for, among other reasons, the casting of Capucine.

14 – Tom Bell, The L-Shaped Room, 1962.      
He passed on (future lover) Leslie Caron’s UK film –  with variations of his usual  theme song…  ”It’s a little complicated…  I studied acting only because I wanted to be a director.  A friend asked me to go to an audition with him – and I got the job.  I don’t think I like acting. I don’t know if I have the right to call myself an actor.  I’m not really so sure how good an actor I am, how much I enjoy it, what I want  to do or where I want to go.

15 –  Alain Delon, Il Gattopardo/The Leopard, Italy, 1962.  Beatty and  the self important Italian maestro Luchino Visconti had talks in Rome.“He was begging me to play Tancredi,” boasted Beatty, who took delight in refusing.  “Warren, I need you badly for my film.  I have Burt Lancaster and Claudia Cardinale and I want you. It’s your part.” Anyway, Beatty was handsome. Visconti wanted – as per usual – pretty.  His choices  came down to the actor known in  Germany as the French Horst Buchholz… and the  actor known in France the German Alain Delon!!  Visconti called Paris. “ It’s your part.mon cher Alain.”

16 –  Alfred Lynch, West 11, 1963.  Exiled US director Joseph  Losey’s choice for one of the 65 films he never made including The Wild One, High Noon, The Devils, Under The Volcano… Beatty beat director Joseph Losey, rejecting 75 scripts and an estimated $2m in 30 months, horrifying his agent, Charles K Feldman. “No other actor I’ve ever known could do this if for no other reason than egotism.” 

17 –  Cliff Robertson, PT 109, 1963.  “My brother thought he’d be terrific in the part,” recalled Ted Kennedy…  After seeing Splendour in the Grass at the White House, JFK decided who should play Lieutenant (jg.) JF Kennedy.  Beatty told him it was a bad script “and Jack Warner kicked me off the lot.”  Even director Elia Kazan felt Beatty was the ideal choice.  “They shared the same looks, intelligence, cunning, a commanding eye for the girls…  and lower back trouble.”  Kazan asked Beatty if that hindered his sex life. “It doesn’t hurt then.” Beatty worked for RFK’s fatal 1968 presidential campaign. When they met, Kennedy told him: “You’re the guy that turned down my brother…”

18 –  George Peppard, The Victors. 1963.    “I felt as if I was being sold like  a can of tomatoes…   My instincts then were to find stories that had great meaning for me. But I made the mistake of being passive and waiting for the ideas of other film-makers to become appealing to me…It was a very upsetting period, the first year or two of being famous…. I’m very surprised I handled it as well as I did.”

18 –  George Hamilton, Act One, 1963.     No again – to the bio of Broadway legend, dramatist-director Moss Hart.  Director Joshua Logan (later succeeded by Dore Schary) wrote to Elia Kazan: “Please tell, me something about Warren Beatty, he’s dying to play Act One… do you think he could?” Other newcomers in the frame were Dean Jones and Anthony Perkins. Hart was never a Beatty obsession – that was Howard Hughes. And it took him 40 years to make his (weak) Hughes movie, Rules Don’t Apply, 2014.

19 –  Cliff Robertson, PT 109, 1963.  “My brother thought he’d be terrific in the part,” recalled Ted Kennedy…  After seeing Splendour in the Grass at the White House, JFK decided who should play Lieutenant (jg.) JF Kennedy.  Beatty told him it was a bad script “and Jack Warner kicked me off the lot.”  Even director Elia Kazan felt Beatty was the ideal choice.  “They shared the same looks, intelligence, cunning, a commanding eye for the girls…  and lower back trouble.”  Kazan asked Beatty if that hindered his sex life. “It doesn’t hurt then.” Beatty worked for RFK’s fatal 1968 presidential campaign. When they met, Kennedy told him: “You’re the guy that turned down my brother…”

20 – Marlon Brando, Bedtime Story, 1963. Or, King of the Mountain, when  the comedy about two con-men was offered to Cary Grant as the suave (what else?) Lawrence Jamison – and Rock Hudson as the small-timer Freddy Benson, learning from the older ace.  Cary proved, er, well, “unavailable”  which was then Universal, determined to keep the fun afloat,  suggested Rock  should turn  older guy with – hey, why not Warren Beatty, as the whippersnapper.   Even  more incredible they couple  became David Niven and Marlon Brando. (For the 1988 re-hash, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, they became Michael Caine-Steve Martin).


21 – Rock Hudson, Send Me No Flowers, 1963.  Rock Hudson, Send Me No Flowers, 1963.   Gene Kelly signed on – gleefully – to direct but quit – swiftly – when he couldn’t land Beatty nor singer Bobby Darin(!)  for what became the third and last of the often homophobic  Doris Day-Rock Hudson rom-coms (essentially the same riff on her Teacher’s Pet with Clark Gable in 1957).

22 –  James Franciscus, Youngblood Hawke, 1964.     “I don’t do a lot of movies. I’m not ready for the kind of fame that finally rubs out talent.” At 27, he needed money and beat singer Bobby Darin, Terence Stamp (26) and the too old (36) George Peppard and Stuart Whitman to a mediocre Warners quickie based on the Herman Wouk novel. Beatty screentested with Suzanne Pleshette, discussed the script (daily) with director Delmer Daves, just never signed any contract. And so, Jack Warner canned him and slashed the budget – from colour to monochrome. And never forgave… “Warner Beaker”!

23 –  Bobby Darin, That Funny Feeling, 1965.   This time it did go to Darin… ” I had the luck to appear in three pictures that were shown at festivals and were full of prestige,” said Beatty. “but people didn’t go to see them. I thought I’d better do something popular.”Like Honeybear, I Think I Love You with Sandra Dee – but Charles Eastman would not sell his script.  So, Beatty joined Dee’s Universal candyfloss until she had top-billing. Dee’s first (and only) husband filled in. Inadequately. 


24 –  Peter O’Toole, What’s New Pussycat?, US-France, 1964.
The title was Beatty’s telephone greeting to his female legions. On hearing it, his agent turned producer Charles Feldman yelled:  “Title!” He then  tried various writers to modernise Lot’s Wife before paying  new stand-up king Woody Allen $30,000 to write something where we all go to Paris and chase girls.”  It took him  six weeks at the Beatty manse. (He took another $5,000 as co-star). “He finally wrote the funniest script I’ve ever read.:” But… Beatty felt his  role was not as as good as Woody’s! And  he quit, using, as excuse, the fact that Feldman was using his lover, Capucine,  instead of  Beatty’s lady, Leslie Caron.  Feldman immediately suggested Peter O’Toole,  who jumped at it.  He called it: Marx Brothers with sex appeal. “And it made a change from being in love with Burton or camels.”  Back from the dead (Iiterally), Peter Sellers  (in Beatty’s intended shrink role for Groucho Marx) quarrelled over billing.  O’Toole simply said: ”Let him, have want he wants.”  “After that film, Woody Allen was always in control of whatever he did,” said Beatty. “And so was I.” Just. Not. Immediately!  Beatty-Caron made Promise Her Anything,…  D’oh! That ended their affair – the first time Beatty, the Virginian Baptist, had been named in a divorce case.  And by 1967, he’d fallen for Julie Christie. Like the rest of us  

25 –  Richard Johnson, The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders, 1965.  Among Bond director Terence Young’s numerous dream schemes:  Beatty and…  Sophia Loren as the sexy serving wench going up and down in society.

26 –  Richard Harris, Hawaii, 1966.  Announced (among almost everything else) in 1963. Said  Dustin Hoffman: “Warren was famous before he was born.”

27 – Oskar Werner, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.  
Who should the nouvelle vague icon  François Truffaut choose to be Ray Bradbury’s fireman, Montag? Charles Aznavour star of his second feature, Tirez sur le pianiste (Shoot the Pianist) or  Oskar Werner, a new global star due to Truffaut’s Jules et Jim?  He also contacted Warren Beatty, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Marlon Brando, Montgomey Clift, Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole – and even signed Terence Stamp, before making the mistake of his life and giving the fireman to Werner, originally booked as Montag’s boss. Any of the others asleep would have better. As if Truffaut did not have enough to contend with – his first film in colour and in English – he found Werner had turned prima donna, his head enlarged by his Hollywood debut, Ship of Fools. He was jealous that Julie Christie had a double role and he did not,, he argued constantly over (his dull) interpretation, refused one “dangerous” scene  (as if a fireman would not have to deal with fire),  even deliberately cut his  hair to ruin continuity. If Truffaut  hadn’t spent  six years planning the film, he would have walked. Ran!  Instead, he simply truncated Werner’s later scenes – and  used a double, John Ketteringham,  in most of them!

28 – George Segal, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966.    Elizabeth Taylor had $1.1m and approval of almost everything. Certainly about casting. And Beatty was just, well, prettier than she was with her extra 30 lbs as Martha. She needn’t have bothered. Beatty passed. Like Redford.

29 –  Robert Redford, Barefoot in the Park, 1967.      He passed five years earlier during his Natalie Wood period. “If Warren had stayed a virgin” said Dustin Hoffman, “he’d be known as the best director in the world.”

30 – Alan Arkin, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, 1967.  Carson McCullers’ first novel about a deaf mute – cruelly called Singer – was perfect for an Austrian-accented Oskar Werner.  (No dialogue). However, he was trying to produce and direct himself in his own perfect project – Robert Nathan’s book, So Love Returns.  (It neverhappened) Directors changed as frequently as actors. José Quintero/Montgomery Clift,  Sidney Lumet/Warren Beatty, Joseph Strick/George Peppard  – but his  agent suggested the saintly Singer might be homosexual. Robert Ellis Miller’s version marked the debuts f Stacy Keach and Sondra Locke – winning a support Oscar nomination at age 17, when she was really 24. She continued de-ageing herself throughout her career.

31- Tony Curtis, The Boston Strangler, 1967.     “Tony Curtis acts better than he has in a decade, ” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert. He was right, as always. Yet the filmn flopped and all but buried the Curtis career, dwindling ever downward into such garbage as Lobster Man From Mars, Tarzan in Manhattan, The Mummy Lives and Christmas in Connecticut directed by… Arnold Schwarzenegger. So maybe Warren Beatty, Horst Buchholz, Robert Redford and Stuart Whitman were right to refuse go play Albert DeSalvo.


32 – Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate, 1967. 
“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”  Hoffman kept refusing to test because he felt insulted – he was Jewish, not a WASP.  So was director Mike Nichols, who convinced him with his celebrated zinger. “Well, maybe Benjamin ls Jewish inside.  Robert Redford insisted he wasn’t right and Nichols agreed. “The public would never believe Redford as a loser with girls.   Idem for Warren Beatty, George Hamilton and Robert Wagner…  Next? Keir Dullea, Charles Grodin (called up for  Nichols in 1969’s Catch 22, 1969), Albert Finney, Harrison Ford, Steve McQueen (!),  David Lynch regular Jack Nance, Jack Nicholson, Anthony Perkins (better as Chaplain Tappman in Catch 22),  Burt Ward (Batman’s Robin but Fox TV wouldn’t let him go), Gene Wilder and the inevitable unknown, Lee Stanley, who went on to be a  docu director. Oh, and Hoffman’s room-mate, Robert Duvall. (Gene Hackman also shared their digs and he was fired from Mr Robinson!). Producer Lawrence Turman said they saw a million kids… Nichols used as many as he could. Mike Farrell (TV’s M*A*S*H) and Kevin Tighe won screen debuts. Richard Dreyfuss, for example, got an actual line – “Shall I get the cops? I’ll get the cops” –   much better than walk-ons for  Brian Avery (in TV until 2018) and Donald F Glut (TV’s Frankenstein  monster in the 50s).  Hoffman got $17,000 and was then jobless and back on welfare for months. Until catching the Midnight Cowboy bus.


33 –  John Cassavetes, Rosemary’s Baby, l968.     Director Roman Polanski wanted a clean-cut all-American.  Laurence Harvey wanted it, photographer Peter Beard tested, Redford fled – and Beatty, said Polanski, “procrastinated, as usual.  ”The husband’s role was not important enough. “Hey, can I play Rosemary?” 

34 –  Charles Bronson, C’era una volta il West (UK/US: Once Upon A Time in the West), Italy-US, 1968.  A Paramount suit nominated Beatty as the perfect Harmonica.  Leone wasn’t so sure. He went through the opening sequence – as slowly as it happened on-screen -the three heavies waiting for the train, hot, sweating, troubled by a fly, collecting water in a stetson’s rim, shading eyes from sun, train arrives, train pulls in, trains pulls  out and we see who has arrived…“Warren Beatty? What do you think my public will think of me!  Harmonica is Bronson, A force of marble!”


35 – Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy, 1968.    
Julie Christie put in more  than  one good word to her UK Darling director John Schlesinger about her lover wanting to be Joe Buck. “Seeing Beatty fail as a hustler on 42nd Street would seem ridiculous,” he noted in his diary. Which is why he wanted an unknown, not a star… Although, and for some time, there had been talk of… Elvis.  “Thankya verra much, ma’am”!  One could suggest that Beatty’s Shampoo hairdresser was Joe Buck having made good in LA.  Cowboy remains he only American X-rated production to win a Best Picture, Adapted Script and Director Oscars. Plus nominations for the three stars, Dustin  Hoffman, Jon Voight and Sylvia Miles. One UA suit had  suggested: “If we could clean this up and add a few songs, it could be a great vehicle for Elvis!”  Well, having secretly obtained copies of the script, both Elvis and Warren Beatty were determined to play the street hustler Joe Buck. No way, said UK director John Schlesinger. “You’re too well known to play a dishwasher who lives in New York and fucks a lot of women.  Elvis made Change of Habit (aka Elvis and The Nun!) instead – and quit movies as his dreaded manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker never allowed the pooe guy stretch. The unknown Harrison Ford and Kiel Martin (from TV’s The Virginian) tested for Joe., So did  London’s Hoboken  actor  Stuart Copper, future director of 27 movies.  Lee Majors won Joe but was suddenly his Western series, The Big Valley, was renewed. And so Canadian Michel Sarazzin became Buck – until Universal, where he was contracted, wanted more money for him. Enter: Jon Voight, having  by now worked on his Texan accent enough.   For the French language  release, Voight was dubbed by rising French star Patrick Dewaere. (On  April 18, 1968, Daily Variety actually stated that Van Heflin was being considered for Joe. At the time, Heflln was… 60).


36 –  Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, 1969. 

37 –  Dustin Hoffman, Little Big Man, 1969.  A year before acting-writing-directing his Billy Jack films, Tom Laughlin was beaten to the rights to Thomas Berger’s novel (in both senses)  history of the West by producer-director Arthur Penn. For his 1966 Bonnie and Clyde.  As, now get this, Warren Beatty as Jack Crabb – from age ten to 121… in two hours and 19 minutes! – and Faye Dunaway as his (adoptive) mother! Warren, apparently, had no wish to be seen as 121. Nor did Steve McQueen.  Dustin Hoffman just adored it!

38 –  Kirk Douglas, There Was A Crooked Man…,1969.  For his one and only Western (ex-Hell, Hung Up, The Prison Story), auteur supreme Joseph L Mankiewicz  first wanted Beatty as the con man thief (and escaped convict) hunted by John Wayne as Sheriff Woodward W Lopeman.  He got Douglas and Henrty Fonda.  (The script was by Warren’s Bonnie and Clyde team). 

39 – Michael Sarrazin, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, 1969.    Charlie Chaplin, Joseph Losey and French auteurs Jean-Pierre Mocky (with Brigitte Bardot) and François Truffaut had all tried to film Horace McCoy’s book during ts 35 year long journey to the screen.  Both Beatty and Robert Redford had talks about playing Jane Fonda’s Depression era marathon, dance-until-you-drop partner, Robert Syverton. The surname of Fonda’s character was… Beatty.

40 –  Robert Culp, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, l969.     Wise.


41 –  Elliott Gould, Getting Straight, 1970.     Wiser.   “If I didn’t control my films, I’d lose interest in making them.”

42 –   Mark Frechette, Uomini contro/Many Wars Ago, Italy, 1970.     Wisest.  “He was interested and would’ve been fine for me,” recalled Francesco Rosi, the Italian director who won a Jackie Coogan look-alike contest as a kid.  “Hollywood wanted an all-star cast and weren’t convinced that an Italian incident in WW1 had international appeal.” Hollywood wuz right.

43 –  Timothy Bottoms, Look Homeward Angel, TV, 1971.   Beatty had also been chased by Katharine Hepburn for Thomas Wolfe’s autobiographical 1958 Broadway hit  with Anthony  Perkins growing up in North Carolina.

44 –  Al Pacino,The Godfather, 1971. 

45 – Jon Voight, Deliverance, 1971. LA Times columnist Joyce Haber had the scoop. Not the proviso… Jack Nicholson agreed to Ed – as long as his neighbour and idol, Brando, was Lewis.  Trouble was, Brando now despised acting, “nothing more than mimicry – a bunch of tricks.” Even so, he agreed. “I”ll take whatever you pay Jack.” That added up to  half the $2m budget!  After musing on Gene Hackman, Lee Marvin and James Stewart, the Warner suits told UK director John Boorman: “Make it with nobodies for no money.”

46 –  Michael York, Cabaret1972.   Opposite Julie Christie as Sally Bowles: an idea without any thought attached to it.   “If I had done some of the movies that I was offered as an actor – and very good movies by the way, and some of them big moneymakers – I don’t know that I ever would have [had] the time to do the movies that I produced. Reds… Shampoo,,, Heaven Can Wait.

47 –  Marlon Brando, Ultimo tango a Parigi/Last Tango in Paris, 1972.      “It seemed very  much in order for me to do something less selfish” – working to beat Nixon – rather than what Brando viewed as “Bernardo Bertolucci’s analysis.” Brando confessed he “never understood that picture.”  

48 – Ryan O’Neal, Paper Moon, 1972.      Before director Peter Bogdanovich rolled O’Neal pere et fille, in black-and-white, the iconic John Huston had prepped it as Addie Pray (the book’s title)in colour for Newman pere et fille, Nell Potts. .    Paramount chief Robert Evans first banned O’Neal (for an affair with his wife, Ali McGraw, duringLove Story) and suggested his usual favourites: Beatty or Jack Nicholson. But neither one had a kid. O’Neal said he wouldn’t have made the film without Tatum. “No father and daughter can connect with the intensity of a movie, and in a way, the story is a parallel of our lives.”  Oh really? In her autobiography, Paper Life, O’Neal said when she was Oscar-niominated and he wasn’t, he hit her! Ten at the time, Tatum remains the youngest Oscar-winner.

49 – George Segal, Blume In Love, 1972.    Once again, the first thought for the divorce lawyer and his divorced wife was aimed at lovebirds Warren Beatty and Julie Christie., He pulled out and persuaded her to follow suit.  For good reasons. They were preparing their Shampoo, 1974, and Heaven Can Wait, 1977.  They missed a goodie, “what everybody is always hoping for fromm Neil Simon, “said critic Roger Ebert, “a comedy that transcends its funny moments, that realises we laugh so we may not cry, and that finally is about real people with real desperations.”  Title was a switcheroo of the old Bing Crosby song,  Love in Bloom.

50 –  Robert Redford, The Sting, 1973.      Stung.   His Bonnie and Clyde largesse ($7m in 1967 dollars) allowed him to set up his own movies.  When he felt like it.   For now, he was too busy working for Senator George McGovern’s Presidential campaign – inventing the concept of fund-raising concerts.


51 –  Robert Redford, The Way We Were, 1973.      
Or, weren’t.  Redford was not happy with how Hubbell Gardner was written – a one-dimensional straw man, agreed director Sydney Pollack. Which explained Beatty’s loss of interest about what loomed large as The Barbra Streisand Show.  He told her:  Why don’t I play the girl and you play the guy?” And later: “I’ve never regretted any of these big hits. There weren’t many that particularly impressed me.  They were nice movies and if I knew they were going to be such big money-makers and they came back and said would you want to play it, I probably would in order to make the money.”


52 – Steve McQueen, Papillon, l973.  Due as director Roman Polanski’s first film after Sharon Tate’s horrendous murder. “Warren loved the book, as I knew he would, and wanted to do it.”  The hitch was nudity. “I’m not going to appear bare-assed.  It’s a hang-up I have.”

53 –  James Caan, The Gambler, 1973.    When Paramount cheesily announced  a 2012 re-make without telling him, scenarist James Toback related the unexpurgated chronology of the original  (“from erection to resurrection,” to quote Churchill), revealing how no  money could be raised on the names of Peter Boyle or Robert De Niro (who reportedly began to dress like Toback!). Or  even Beatty. He  never made the film but became “one of my closest friends.”   Two decades later, Beatty hired him to write Bugsy, 1990. (Only took him six years).

54 – Robert Redford, The Great Gatsby, 1974.  

Redford was keen. Very keen. He got his manager Freddie Fields to call Paramount production chief Robert Evans.  “He was no fan of mine. He wouldn’t even consider me. Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson were his preferences.” So Redford arranged a meet with the film’s UK director Jack  Clayton – 90 mjnutes  inside a Heathrow Airport terminal. (Told you he was keen) Clayton had been favouring Nicholson but RR won him over: “You can see the possiblity of danger beneath that romantic WASP image.”  Evans was furious at such subterfuge. Anyway, Redford was blond and Gatsby, dark haired. Rubbish, said Redford, who knew Gatz better than Evans. “His hair was freshly barbered and smoothed back and his skin was pulled tight over his face – the description [in the novel].”  The mess had RR quitting his CMAgency which was also handling Steve McQueen and his new lover Ali MacGraw, who producer David Merrick wantedBeatty was also in the loop (as was his future lover, Julie Christie, for Daisy). Ironically, five years earlier Beatty  had  tried to direct  his version  with Paramount’s  head man  and ex-“actor” Bob Evans – “the only Gatsby I know.”  .For producer Lester Cowan, it was the one that got away… He first tried when hot  to trot after his 1945 hit, The Story of GI Joe, ironically starring Robert Mitchum, who played the studio boss in this Spiegel production nearly 30 years later. Cowan tried again in 1967, aiming for Beatty (who started writing Shampoo on Sam Spiegel’s yacht). The film’s director, Elia Kazan, told Beatty that  Spiegel  was the best producer pre- and post- filming – then, added: “Spiegel’s heart is full of shit and if you repeat that I’ll deny it.” 


55 – John Wayne, Rooster Cogburn, 1974. The idea was fair – a sequel  to True Grit.  But if Wayne proved too ill, what would be the point of someone else in his titular Oscar-winning rôle? Marlon Brando topped producer Hal Wallis’ eye-patch  list of Eastwood, Richard Burton, Gene Hackman, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and some of Duke’s old co-stars: Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck. Plus four of co-star Katharine Hepburn’s previous partners  – Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn – and as she continued trying to pick guys she’d never  worked with before… Warren Beatty, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Paul Scofield, Henry Winkler (!)… (McQueen turned down her Grace Quigley in 1983).   Kate wrote that embracing Duke “was like leaning against a great tree.”

56 – Gene Hackman, Lucky Lady, 1975.   Once George Segal quit, all of Sue Mengers’ clients were approached.  Beatty, Steve McQueen and Steven Spielberg refused to embark. Hackman sank with all hands.

57 – Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.

58 –  Robert De Niro, The Last Tycoon, 1975.   “Frequently planned, frequently announced and frequently abandoned,” said Sam Spiegel. For producer Lester Cowan, it was the one that got away… He first tried when hot  to trot after his 1945 hit, The Story of GI Joe, ironically starring Robert Mitchum, who played the studio boss in this Spiegel production nearly 30 years later. Cowan tried again in 1967, aiming for Beatty (who started writing Shampoo on Sam Spiegel’s yacht). The film’s director, Elia Kazan, told Beatty that  Spiegel  was the best producer pre- and post- filming – then, added: “Spiegel’s heart is full of shit and if you repeat that I’ll deny it.”

59- Giancarlo Giannini, L’Innocente, Italy, 1976.  Thirteen years on and Luchino Visconti was saying “It’s your part.” Again.  Or, he was after having said  much the same to Alain Delon. Again.



  (Clic to enlarge)  

* The real hero of The Front, 1976, was not Woody Allen but an amalgam  of several names on  the 1950s’ Hollywood Blacklist of screen-writers.  And despite their resemblance, Walter Bernstein swore that he never wrote it  for Woody.  It was  flexible script, until a star was locked.  As much  for George Segal as for Beatty  – who would, naturally,  have favoured  his better side in the profile poster. [Illustration by Graham Marsh]




60 –  Woody Allen, The Front, 1976.     “You go with your instincts.”  He took over Allen’s  lover, Diane Keaton, instead.

61 –   James Brolin, Gable and Lombard, 1976.   Beatty resembled Gable as much as he did Lombard – and only agreed to make their love story if the names were changed.

62 – James Caan, Un autre homme, une autre chance (US: Another Man, Another Chance; UK: Another Man, Another Woman), France-US, 1977.     Pretentious Claude Lelouch decided to make a Western. He didn’t, of course.  He made a Lelouchern. Complete with the hero riding to Beethoven’s Fifth! Caan talked his way into the mess, while the realisateur was chasing Beatty, McQueen, Newman or Pacino. None of whom, Lelouch said proudly, said No.  Nor yes.

63 –  Christopher Reeve, Superman, 1978,

64 –  George C Scott, Hardcore, 1979.     “He wouldn’t work with a first time director,” says Paul Schrader. (Shades of George Raft). Also, he was not old enough (at 42!) to play the father of a teenage daughter.” (He wanted to be  searching for his sister). Plus all the stupid rumours it would be Hollywood’s first hard-core feature.

64 – Roy Scheider, All That Jazz, 1979.  When director Bob Fosse was convinced (by his health) not to try and play his screen self, Broadway choreographer Joe Gideon, was chased and/or avoided by… Beatty (keen, but Gideon must not die at the end!), Alan Alda, Alan Bates (“too British,” said Fosse), Robert Blake, Richard Dreyfuss (“afraid of the dancing”), Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Jack Lemmon (“too old”), Paul Newman (“Dumb of me… a terrible oversight”), Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, George Segal, Jon Voight. Scheider just grabbed the “outrageous, assaulting, melodramatic, very funny, stupid, silly, simplistic, vulgar… wonderful movie!” Exactly.

65 –  Ray Sharkey, Love & Money, 1979.    Writer James Toback directed his debut, Fingers, in 1977. The next decade, he reported in Vanity Fair in 2014, ebbed and flowed “to the deliberate and lengthily interrupted rhythms of Warren Beatty.”   In 1979, Beatty bought Toback’s new script and even persuaded The New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael to produce it – with “the expectation” that Beatty would star. “Long delays and occasional disputes were resolved by Beatty’s flying off to Finland to direct and star in Reds, Kael’s returning to The New Yorker, and my making Love & Money with the wrong actor.”

66 –  Burt Reynolds, The Man Who Loved Women, 1983.   Too obvious casting for the star with a reputed 1,295 conquests – by director Blake Edwards for his needless red-hash of the 1977 François Truffaut classic, L’homme qui aimait les femmes.


67 – Robert Downey Jr, The Pick Up  Artist, 1986. 
James Toback also wrote this movie for Beatty – in 1984.  Suddenly, Beatty turned shy… reluctant “to portray a character whose erotic compulsions propelled the narrative.”  He’d been there, done that and got the Shampoo tee-shirt  (in 1974).  He stayed aboard as producer, giving the actual credit to his cousin, David Leigh MacLeod. Although the script was based more on  Toback’s womanising than Beatty’s (close though the two were in that area),  Downey said Beatty was Toback’s adviser. “Beatty’s really knowledgeable in a lot of areas, especially fucking. Especially kissing and making actors do something forty times.”  Co-star Molly Ringwald said Beatty directed most of her scenes. Downey and Toback made two other movies: Black  & White, 1998, and Two Girls and a Guy, 1996.


68 –  Michael Douglas, Wall Street, 1987.    Auteur Oliver Stone thought about Beatty,  Richard Gere, William Petersen,  James Woods before settling on Douglas for Mr Greed Is Good – Gordon Gekko. That was the easy part . HE soon wanted to fire him!  “I had problems with him the first few days. We were at each other’s throats…  He just couldn’t remember anything.”   Stone even asked if he was on drugs? No!  “You look like you’ve never acted before in your life.”  And kept telling him: “Get mean!  Get mean! Gekko is mean!’  Then, Stone found the magic words…   “If I had Kirk here I wouldn’t have to be telling you all this.”  Douglas went beserk – “Fuck you, ya piece of shit!” – and walked off the set. He returned after about 40 minutes, with his hair slicked back in the Gekko (and, indeed, Kirk cut). “I’ think it shook him up,” said Stone. ”He took it more seriously right way.”  Result. The Best Actor Oscar goes to…!

69 –  Mel Gibson, Tequila Sunrise, l988.   The LA buddies on  either side of the law – dealer and cop – went from Jeff Bridges-Nick Nolte to Beatty-Scott Glenn to producer Thom Mount’s winning combo. Gibson-Kurt Russell.  Except, as Chicago critic Roger Ebert pointed out  about Towne’s scripts: “Nothing is as it seems. We learn more about the characters when they’re not on the screen.

70 –  Tom Hanks, Big, 1987.  “I wish I was big.”  A kid dropped a quarter in a wish-machine, makes a wish,  and next morning he wakes up as Tom Hanks behaving, of course, still like a kid.  Beatty wasn’t  tempted  until he heard how Robert De Niro was keen on the script.  Plus Albert Brooks, Harrison Ford,Steve Guttenberg (shooting 3 Men and a Baby), Michael Keaton, Bill Murray, Denis Quaid, Judge Reinhold and Robin Williams  (who did his own take on the notion in Francis Coppola‘s Jack, 1996, first aimed at to Hanks !). And Fox simply rejected Gary Busey and… John (Box Office Poison) Travolta. Steven Spielberg’s sister, Anne, wrote the script.

71 – Mel Gibson, Tequila Sunrise, 1988.   The LA buddies on  either side of the law – dealer and cop – went from Jeff Bridges-Nick Nolte to Beatty-Scott Glenn to producer Thom Mount’s winning combo. Gibson-Kurt Russell.  Except, as Chicago critic Roger Ebert pointed out  about Towne’s scripts: “Nothing is as it seems. We learn more about the characters when they’re not on the screen.”

72 –  Dennis Quaid, Everybody’s All  American (UK: When I Fall In Love), 1988.  Beatty played and loved US  football – as a movie subject. As Variety columnist  Michael Fleming phrased it, Beatty fell in love with projects the way he did with women –  only “to cool when it comes time to commit.”

73 –  Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1990.

74 –  James Caan, Misery, 1990.    
“Leading men hate to be passive; hate to be eunuchised by their female co-stars.”  Top Scenarist William Goldman on why 22 actors avoided the prospect  of being beaten up and beaten to an Oscar by  Kathy Bates as the mad fan of writer Paul Sheldon. Warren Beatty prevaricated but never actually said no (nor yes).  He  argued against the major violence. And he wanted to direct!  “I’d love to play a guy who gets his foot chopped off.  I’m a whore,” , said Beatty.    “Look  at the movies I’ve been in.  I lost in Shampoo, I lost in Reds.  I could play it easily.   It’ll be a different character with Jimmy “I’m a pussy. Jimmy’s definitely not a pussy!” Richard Dreyfuss regretted disappointing director Rob  Reiner again afte Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  102