Danielle Darrieux

  1. Sigrid Guri, Rio, 1939.    A full year after starting her Universal contract with the aptly named Rage of Paris, she did not show up for her second film.
  2. Vera Ralston, The Fighting Kentuckian, 1940.   For his second John Wayne Production, Duke wanted a French actress for Fleurette De Marchand. With a light Paris accent –   Darrieux, Corinne Calvet or Simone Simon? But his old Republic boss, Herbert J Yates wanted his future wife in the rôle. “I don’t wanna malign her,” said Duke. “She didn’t have the experience. She talked with this heavy Czech accent… It hurt the picture, because we now had to hire other Czech and Austrian actors to play French characters so her accent would be matched. [Pause] Yates was one of the smartest businessmen I ever met. But when it came to the women he loved, his business brain went flying out the window.” The $1.3m movie lost a bundle. And the best (Georgia) accent came in a solo sidekick rôle for… Oliver Hardy!
  3. Merle Oberon, 24 Hours of a Woman’s Life, 1952.    When one of her greatest fans, German director Max Ophüls, wanted to film the Stefan Zweig story.
  4. Françoise Arnoul, French Can-Can, France, 1955.    First announced for Darrieux in 1939 (when Arnoul was eight) in the midst of contract muddles with Universal, RKO and Ciné-Alliance. Ten years later, Françoise played Darrieux’s young sister in Le Dimanche de la Vie.
  5. Martine Carol, Lola Montes (UK: The Fall of Lola Montes), France, 1955.   With Madame de… in1953.   “Max Ophüls allowed me to discover another cinema, the real cinema,”  said Darrieux. “Max adored me and wanted only to work with me and proposed almost a new project every day.” Including Lola.  “But the producers wanted a sexier star… Max was profoundly unhappy and didn’t want to make the film without me.” But he did going first to  dancer Zizi Jeanmaire and then to the more French box-office allure of Martine Carol as the Irish (!) dancer and lover of Franz Liszt, Alexandre Dumas pere and  King Ludwig I of Bavaria, etc, in  what sadly proved his final film (his first in colour).US  critic Andrew Sarris went overboard by hailing the (turgid) result as “the greatest film of all time.”  Depends which version you see, there area some badly butchered cuts out there.
  6. Ludmilla Tcherina, Oh… Rosalinda!! 1955.    UK director Michael Powell chased what he termed Neverland Casting: Danielle, Bing Crosby, Maurice Chevalier, Noel Coward, Anton Walbrook and Orson Welles in.   Walbrook, alone, agreed terms.
  7. Michele Morgan, Lost Command, 1966.   Indochina, Hollywood style… before it became Vietnam, American style. And director Mark Robson required one French grand dame or another to be the Countess de Clairefons.
  8. Marie Laforet, Fucking Fernand, France, 1987.   When cineaste Paul Vecchiali quit, Gérard Mordillant went younger.
  9. Martha Villalonga, Ma saison préférée, France, 1993.    Realisateur André Téchiné found her too bourgeois. Well, of course  -that’s why she had already played Catherine Deneuve’s maman twice (and once more to come). “He wanted a more rustic character.” Going right against her sit-com type, Villalonga won herself a 1994 César nomination; the film won four: Best Film, Director, Actor, Actress.
  10. Madeleine Cheminat, Tout feu, tout flamme (All Fired Up), France, 1981.   Not easy finding Isabelle Adjani’s  grandmother, who is also Yves Montand’s mother.   With help from Jean-Claude Brialy and Marlene Dietrich’s pal, Sacha Briquet, Euro casting icon Dominique Besnehard met various old lady actresses: Darrieux, Jane Crispin, Madeleine Ozeray and Margo Lion. It was, he said,  like  being dropped into a live history of cinema. Already selected by him for Une étrange affaire, Cheminat was the wife of Louis Decreux – memorably  suggested  by  Besnehard to director Bertrand Tavernier for Un dimanche à la campagne, in 1983. 
  11. Micheline Presle, HH, Hitler à Hollywood (US: Hitler in Hollywood), France-Belgium, 2010.  And some 29 years later... After four Presle roiles going to Darrieux, during 1949-2001, finally the reverse…  DD passes a film to her friend (they took it in turns to wed Hollywood producer William Marshall). The role  was an aged star wanting to see one of her films that was never released.  The clever,  mockumentary thriller  was chosen for the 2010 Karlovy film festival, because it ”uncovers Hollywood’s unsuspected plot against the European motion picture industry. Numerous directors and stars appear in the film, making it a choice morsel for all film lovers.”



 Birth year: 1917Death year: 2017Other name: Casting Calls:  10