Emlyn Williams

  1. Cary Grant, Suspicion, 1941. RKO had the Before the Fact book since 1935.  It beame  “Alfred Hitchcock’s film with no name.” No ending, either – until the very last minute. (Same for the title, chosen just days before the premiere although Hitch had been calling it that for months; he  actually  preferred Fright). The ultimate problem was not Cary earning so much more than Hitchcock’s weekly contract salary, but the censor. Cary Grant could not kill his wife. OK, said Hitch, so she’s just thinking he’s going to kill her?  Or better, have her write to her  mother,  naming him as her murderer, drinking the milk he’s poisoned and then Grant posts  her letter! They settled for a Hollywood ending. RKO had first wanted the Welsh Emlyn Williams (author of the rather Hitchcockian play, Njght Must Fall). Then, Robert Montgomery, Laurence Olivier or George Sanders.  Except no one saw them as a killer. (Hitch might have obliged, he hated Joan Fontaine’s unprofessionalism). With his new confidence about drama, from  Penny Serenade, Grant won  good reviews as  “the smiling villain without heart or conscience”  ( New York Times). But Fontaine won the Oscar. Grant was furious and vowed never to work with Hitch again…

  2. Stanley Holloway, My Fair Lady, 1964.    Veteran director George Cukor was full of bad ideas. For example: Jimmy Cagney or the Welsh actor-playwright as Eliza Doolittle’s Cockney father.

  3. John Hurt, I, Claudius, 1976.    Playing Caligula when Merle Oberon’s “almost fatal car smash” became producer Alexander Korda’s excuse to abort in 1936.  Ultimately, the Robert Graves books became a memorable and  award-winning BBC TV production.

 Birth year: 1905Death year: 1987Other name: Casting Calls:  3