Donald Crisp

  1. Charles Coburn, Vivacious Lady, 1937.   With James Stewart falling ill and then having to report to Benefits Forgot (also with Coburn), his romcom was put on ice for a spell – losing Crisp, Fay Bainter, Douglas Fairbanks Jr to other gigs. That’s the way it was in Hollywood back in the day. Work, work, work.. 
  2. Montagu Love, The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1937.    Crisp passed on becoming the Bishop of the Black Canons in Errol Flynn’s feisty rendition of the Sherwood legen.
  3. Charles Coburn, Vivacious Lady, 1937.     Change of James Stewart’s father when shooting was postponed because James Stewart fell ill and then had to report to his next MGMovie, Of Human Hearts. When the production recommenced, Crisp (and screen wife Fay Bainter) had left for other assignments.
  4. Capt. Jack Young, Yankee Doodle Dandy, 1941.   Well, that was his credit…  after beating Crisp to The President (an unseen performance as Franklin D Roosevelt), to whom James Cagney as George M Cohan is relating his life and time as Broadway icon.
  5. Claude Rains, Kings Row, 1941.    Yorkshire’s James Stephenson died from a heart attack just before shooting began. Producer Hal Wallis immediately summoned Crisp but settled for Claude Rains as the hero’s medical mentor in “the town they talk of in whispers,” full of murder, sadism, depravity  And worse that had to be axed from Henry Bellamann’s 1940 novel: sex (premarital), sex (gay), incest, suicide…  Peyton Place 16 years before Peyton Place!
  6. Charles Bickford, The Song of Bernadette, 1943.     About ten actors tested for  Father Peyramale, parish priest of the  the  French girl who had a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858. They included: Crisp, Lee J Cobb, Walter Hampden, Cedric Hardwicke and Thomas Mitchell.  (Cobb was later given Dr  T Duzous).  Bickford became very close with  Jennifer Jones (wife of producer David O Selznick) who played Bernadette. They also co-starred in Duel in the Sun.  In fact, one  hour after hearing about Bickford’s death in 1967, Jones attempted suicide. 
  7. Walter Huston, Dragon Seed, 1943.     Insulting! Pearl Buck’s book had a point – exposing Japanese atrocities in China.  MGM made it a farce, with the unlikeliest-looking Chinese ever spawned by Hollywood.. and  could only think of their usual paterfamilias for Ling Tan. Except Crisp, Edward Arnold, Frank Morgan and Walter Pidgeon failed t Eurasian make-up tests.  Huston looked about  as Chinese as his daughter – Katharine  Hepburn!!
  8. Reginald Owen, Thunder in the Valley (aka Bob, Son of Battle), 1946.  As with Edmund Gwenn replacing Barry Fitzgerald, here was another example, of one top character star subbing another… Owen’s main rival in his usual scene-stealing area, was Red Wulf as Auld Bob – a sheepdog!

 Birth year: 1882Death year: 1974Other name: Casting Calls:  8