Charles Durning

  1. Rod Steiger, W C Fields and Me, 1957. Also up for W C were Albert Finney, Walter Matthau and two applauded character actors Peter Boyle, Charles Durning.  But one of Rod Steiger’s disguises as the serial killer in No Way to Treat a Lady, 1967.  was that of  Fields – almost a screentest for this biopic, one among the many in the  mid-70s about Hollywood. From Valentino and Bogie to  Gable and  Lombard and Goodbye  Norma Jean.  

  2. John McGiver, Midnight Cowboy, 1969.  Last minute change of Towny when Durning pulled out and let Broadway star Hughes be the old gay guy who disastrously picks up Jon Voight’s male hooker, Joe Buck, in the 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.  The role was – possibly – also offered to  Van Heflin, which could explain the  obvious error when  the April 18, 1968, Daily Variety stated Heflin was being considered for Joe. Buck.  At age 60…!

  3. Richard Bradford, An Enemy of the People, 1978.     Durning had been offered the sea captain but held out for the mayor…. which came his way when Nicol Williamson proved unstable. “I’d worked with Charlie a lot,” said George Schaefer. “He was a little more off-beat which is what the role required.”
  4. Brian Dennehy,  First Blood (aka Rambo), 1981.

  5. Jack Warden, September, 1987.  
     In his 2020 memoir,  Apropos of Nothing, Woody Allen  called the film “a drama that asks the question: Can a group of tortured souls come to terms with their sad lives when directed by a guy who should still be writing mother-in-law jokes for Broadway columnists?”   The Bergmanesque chamber piece was more of a chamber pot. He wrote/shot/hated it, re-wrote/re-cast/re-made it. No better. “The fact is, I’d like to shoot it a third time.” Only  Mia Farrow (pregnant  by the end of shooting) and Dianne Wiest stayed put; Denholm Elliott, too, but in a different role. He took on Durning’s Howard, while Jack Warden played Elliott’s  Lloyd. Result: Woody’s biggest flop – grossing a mere $486,484. That would have  killed other directors’ careers, not Woody’s. He just carried making new films –   good, bad and otherwise – and in Europe when LA wouldn’t fund him – every… September.


 Birth year: 1923Death year: 2012Other name: Casting Calls:  5