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Cary Grant (1904-1986)


The Ultimate Movie Star

"My family name is Leach.  To which, at my christening, was added Archibald Alexander,

with no opportunity for me to protest.   For more than half my 58 years

I have cautiously peered from behind the facade of

a man known as Cary Grant."



  1. Gary Cooper, Devil and Deep, 1931.    
    Cary was more keen on Broadway.  What else when  the verdict of his  Paramount  screentest (with Jeannette MacDonald, no less),  was... 
    “You’re bow-legged and your neck is too thick.” Meanwhile, after 19 movies during 1929-1931, Gary Cooper  had disappeared on  an  Euro-vacation.   He was back soon enough when Frederic March warned him how this new fella was obviously being groomed to take over the #1 spot at Paramount. It was easy for Cooper to push Grant out of this lead role, Lieutenant Sempter.  However, the  film’s Russian-born director Marion Gering was a Cary fan (he introduced the then Archie to Paramount boss BP Schulberg - “use him in  te test of your wife tomorrow!” - and indirectly to Mae West). Gering gave him a cameo role. As Grant’s biographers,  Chuck Ashman and Pamela Trescott, said all he had to do was “stand around, look handsome and die at the appropriate moment.”  Plus giving Coop the message - “I am here” --  as per the mindset of Schulberg, tiring of Cooper’s lofty attitude.  This is the first of two only films featuring both Cary and Gary. They never shared scenes  - apart from joining the entire cast  for  the tea-party sequence of Alice in Wonderland, 1933. Devil was also the Hollywood debut of “Charles Laughton - The eminent English character actor in the role of The Commander”! (The girl was Tallulah Bankhead.  She made it,  she told a reporter,  “so I  could fuck Gary Cooper.")b Grant rapidy  struck stardom  via  Blonde Venuswith Dietrich and his Mae West  pair, She Done Him Wrong and  I’m No Angel. And it was them, and not Cooper, who actually saved Paramount from bankruptcy. 

  2. Randolph Scott, Hot Saturday, 1931.   Due to be lowly Bill Fadden, Grant was promoted to the lead, Romer Sheffield -  another playboy, as in Blonde Venus -  instead of his elders: Gary Cooper or Fredric March. This was Grant’s first top-billing  - “a Gable-esque leading man,” hailed the New York Herald Tribune. And to make the party complete,  Fadden became the six-year-older Randy... Cary’s future and  longtime house-mate and  lover. They were known as  “the Damon and Pythias of Tinseltown.” Grant, of course,  was  the first to use The G Word  for  homosexualoity in  Bringing Up Baby, 1937. When asked why he wwas wearing a negligee, he famously replied:    "Because I just went gay all of a sudden!"  He didn’t invent the slang, as the  legend suggests;  gay had been so used since the 20s.
  3. David Manners, A Bill of Divorcement, 1931.    Oh those early days…  Grant, the ikon to be, was actually rejected by director Georghe Cukor in favour of some Canadian called Manners.  This was Katharine Hepburn’s movie debut. Who could she play with?  Well, not Grant, said director George  Cukor. “I could never get weak-kneed at the idea of Cary Grant.”  Kate did. She made three beauties wth him: : Sylvia Scarlett, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story. “You never saw such timing,” said Grant. “ She had a mind like a computer – every detail worked out.  She taught me just about everything I know about comedy – how to time my lines, the solemn way to say something comic…”
  4. Roscoe Karns, If I Had a Million, 1932.  For the first time Randy Scott plucked a role away from his room-mate… . Scott’s co-star went from Cary’s planned Evelyn Venable to  Helen Broderick to Kay Johnson. Director John Cromwell did not stray far from the hearth  to find  her. She was Mrs. Cromwell during 1928-1945.
  5. Randolph Scott, Village Tale, 1934.  For the first time Randy Scott plucked a role away from his room-mate… . Scott’s co-star went from Cary’s planned Evelyn Venable to  Helen Broderick to Kay Johnson. Director John Cromwell did not stray far from the hearth  to find  her. She was Mrs. Cromwell during 1928-1945.
  6. Franchot Tone, The Lives of a Bengal Lancer, 1934. “The young lad from England,” as Ed Sullivan called him,was on his way to topping the box-office for an amazing 34 years as, in  US critic Pauline Kael’s perfect phrase: The man from dream city. Frederic March had also been up for Lieutenant John Frsythe. Fours years later, Cary headlined Gunga Din, a far more memorable three-Brit-soldiers-in-India romp. Better writer, too: Rudyard Kipling.

  7. Franchot Tone, Mutiny on the Bounty, 1935.   
    MGM’s production icon Irving Thalberg asked Grant to play Midshipman Roger Byam (based the real Midshipman Peter Heywood). aboard, not HMS, but His Majesty's Armed Vessel Bounty). However, Paramount boss Adolph Zukor refused to loan him out -  too busy and too valuable to Paramount. Grant never forgave Zukor   and once his five-year contract was up, he refused to sign again with Paramount...   or any  other studio,  becoming Hollywood’s first  autonomous actor for hire. But Zukor remembered how badly  MGM had treated him… before Mae West saved his and, incidentally,  made  Grant a star . Clark Gable, playing Fletcher Christian did not want Tone in the film. They had been bitter rivals for Joan Crawford’s bed when making Dancing Lady, 1933. However, the guys  became close friends due to their mutual interests.  Booze and broads.  (Crawford was Mrs Tone in 1935 for four years – and had an on-off-on-off  affair with Gable across 20 years). Cary also  quit  the Academy. It,  in  turn, never forgave him (two nominations only from 77 films!) until Gregory Peck’s idea of a (rare) honorary Oscar for, said presenter Frank Sinatra, “the sheer brilliance of his acting that makes it all look easy,” on April 7, 1970.  
  8. Errol Flynn, Captain  Blood, 1935.   Robert Donat had begun  the film but  his asthma forced him to quit. Warner’s first thought was loaning Cary from Paramount. Although it hardly sounded part of his vocabulary, the always histrionic  director Michael Curtiz  protested that  Grant  was “too effete.”  Brian Aherne, Ronald Colman, Clake Gable, Leslie Howard, Fredric March were in/out/disinterested before  Errol was in like Flynn and became an instant  star.  Like most of Hollywood, Grant hated Curtiz.  On the wrap day of  Night and Day ten years later, Cary looked him in eye and said, in front ot cast and crew and, indeed, in stuff of Hollywood legend:  “If I’m ever chump enough to work with you again, you’ll know I’m either broke or I’ve lost my mind.”
  9. John Howard, Border Flight, 1935.    Back from his one and only UK film (The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss, 1935) - and the death of his father, Elias Leach  -  Grant refused his studio’s programmer - Frances Farmer’s second film. He wanted a raise and script approva.l He got the money and was let off the movie. Ohioan John Howard,  was seven times Hollywood’s Bulldog Drummond and  Katharine Hepburn’s fiance in her third Grant film, The Philadelphia Story, 1940. Realising what he’d missed, Grant rushed  to co-starred with Farmer the following year in The Toast of New York -  far better than this twaddkle,  which she called: ”By long odds the worst picture ever made.”
  10.  Maurice Chevalier, The Beloved Vagabond, 1936. Once Grant rejected the re-make in London, the French star grabbed it in another fruitless attempt to recapture the magic of his work with director Ernst Lubitsch. BritIsh newcomer Margaret Lockwood replaced Bette Davis, busy being sued by Jack Warner. 

  11. Ralph Bellamy, The Awful Truth 1937.  
    Still seething about Topper – before it proved a winner - Cary Grant was not on form when preparing for director Leo McCarey’s comedy about… divorce!   Or as the Columbia ogre Harry Cohn put it, a Frank Capra film without [expletive deleted] Frank Capra!  Co-star Irene Dunne explained Cary would be so  apprehensive about nearly  everything in those days, ”that he would almost get physically sick.” As usual, he tried to buy his way out of what he saw as trouble.  He should swop roles with Ralph Bellamy – who should be Dunne;s husband with Grant, if as anything at all, as The Other Man, originally written written for Topper, himself, Roland Young.   Also, Cary wasn’t happy with  McCarey doing re-writes every night and expecting him  to improvise all over the place.,.. which he happened to do extremely well.  ("The judge says this is my day to see the dog").  Naturally, nobody took any notice of his complaints. Consecutive smash hits  for the Old Guard of Laurel and Hardy’s Hal  Roach and Leo McCarey - Topper and Truth - completed Archie Leach’s creation of the  Cary Grant we know and adore today.

  12. Fredric March, Trade Winds, 1937.   Grant was director Tay Garnett’s first choice for the skirt-chasing detective Sam Wye - having a shipboard romance with murder suspect Joan Bennett. New York Times critic Frank S Nugent hesitated to call it a rom-com,  “beginning as it does with a suicide, adding a murder and ending with a third body on the floor.”  And a fourth in 1951…  A year after marrying Bennett, the fim’s  producer, Walter Wanger, shot her agent, Jennings Lang, in his genitalia  for  having more than  his 10% with Bennett and was jailed for attempted murder. Time well spent. When he came out, after four months,  Wanger made… Riot In Cell Block 11.
  13. Ray Milland, Wise Girl,  1937.    Well, all of the titles - were  slanted towards Miriam  Hopkins as the wealthy leading lady:  Female of the Species, The Indestructible Susan and Women Have a Way.
  14. Edward G Robinson, The Amazing Dr Clitterhouse, 1938.      Edward G’s gangster image was all wrong for a shrink joining a gang - simply to study the criminal psyche.  Suggested replacements went from Cary to... Bette Davis. The film’s star, Humphrey Bogart,could not resist calling he whole thing…  Dr Clitoris.
  15. George Raft, Spawn of the North, 1938.   Cary and buddy  Randolph Scott churned into George Raft and Henry Fonda as the rivals in - wait for it – a salmon fishing war in Alaska. 
  16. Ray Milland, Men With Wings, 1938.     Now Cary and Randy Scott were first pegged as the fly boy heroes in an aviation thrillder (from Kitty Hawk to WW1) from one of the titular kind - the 1928 Wings director and WW1 daredevil, Wild Bill Wellman.

  17. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Gunga Din, 1938. 
    “From the pages of history and the pen of Rudyard Kipling…”  Cary Grant made two of his greatest 30s’ successes  – Topper and The Awful Truth -  with members of the old  Laurel & Hardy unit. Producer  Hal Roach - and writer-director Leo McCarey.  Here  Grant bondswith a third member, Stan & Ollier’s cameraman-turned-director George Stevens - who actually formed the greatest double act  known to man. (OK, after Adam and Eve!).  Result: another smash!  Or it was  once the continually  nervous  Grant persuaded producer Pando Berman to let him swop roles with Douglas Fairbanks and play Cutter. OK, said Berman. And the ex-Archibald Leach renamed him Archibald Cutter. In 1936, Berman had first attempted the tale  with Ronald Colman  (or Robert Donat) and Spencer Tracy. In 1937, he wanted Ray Milland and Franchot Tone. By the 60s, Cannon Films’ Go Go Boys - Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus – sought Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Roger Moore for a re-make.

  18. Melvyn Douglas, Ninotchka, 1939.  “Garbo Laughs!” Grant was MGM’s first choice for  Leon.  In fact, shooting began without a leading man.   And she combed through  Cary, Robert Montgomery, William Powell and Spencer Tracy before agreeing to Douglas. Two years later, he was second choice for her trite finale, Two-Faced Woman, 1940. (Her laughter was dubbed by another actress revealed the Hollywood Reporter in 1980).
  19. Gary Cooper, North West Mounted Police, 1939.   Cecil B DeMille’s first Technicolor film was without a hero during six months of pre-production.  First choices, Joel McCrea, Fredric March and John Wayne were lost to other movies. Cary disliked the script. So, Coop became  the Texas Ranger working with the Mounties after swopping roles with McCrea (known as the poor man’s Gary Cooper) so that Joel could make Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (also refused  by Cary).
  20. Rosalind Russell, His Girl Friday, 1939.    Howard Hawks originally planned Grant as the reporter Hlldy Johnson -  and New York’s Mr Staccato of the Airwavs, newspaper and radio gossip columnist Walter Winchell, as the editor Walter Burns.  Then, scripter Charles Lederer suggested Hildy and Walter  be ex-spouses. Magic! Cary had also been a newspaperman in Wedding Present, 1935, which completed his Paramount contract and set him free.
  21. David Niven, Raffles, 1939.  The English gentleman thief was the forerunner (jn 1898) to the French Arsène Lupin (in 1905). Producer Sam Goldwyn had ten writers modernising the Edwardian  A J Raffles for Cary.  He liked it enough to lower his normal fee.  But when  faced with mutiny by contractee David Niven, Goldwyn dropped Grant and used project as bait to keep Niven down on the farm...  to the extent of  making Niven nervous by constantly seeing new pactee Dana Andrews wandering around the lot in an obvious Rafles suit! 
  22. Ray Milland, The Doctor Takes A Wife, 1939.  Written for Cary-Irene Dunne, played by Milland-Loretta Young.“There are actors in this town,” commented Louis Jourdan, “who made important careers for a long, long period just by taking the parts that Cary Grant turned down.”
  23. Joel McCrea, Foreign Correspondent, 1940.
    Cary was the sole Hollywood actor Alfred Hitchcock wanted to meet when producer David O Selznick imported him from London. At a private party at New York’s 21 club, star and artist hit it off within seconds. They were like brothers, each idolising the other: the ugly  one  for the other’s beauty, the narcissistic star for the fat man’s creativity.  Grant and Hitch - inside each man was the other.  For his second Hollywood venture, Hitchcock  - "fat, forty, and full of fire,” said his  producer, Water Wanger -  craved Grant  but he was proving   Only Angels Have Wings. Also rejected by Gary Cooper and Clark Gable, Hitch made do with McCrea while famously moaning: “I always end up with the next best.”

  24. Melvyn Douglas, Our Wife, 1940.  How a screen couple evolves…  Grant and Jean Arthur in 1938 became Grant and  Loretta Young in ’39,  Grant and Rita Hayworth in ’40… finally, Douglas and Ruth Hussey. Not the same chic-to-chic at all.

  25. Robert Montgomery, Mr and Mrs Smith, 1940.    When Alfred Hitchcock could not deliver Grant for Carole Lombard’s comedy, he looked at everyone from George Brent to Fredric March. Montgomery's salary was $110,000 for eight weeks.  Hitch got $40,000 less for his 16 weeks.
  26. Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr Jordan, 1941.  Legendary Broadway producer Jed Harris wanted to film Harry Segall’s play with Cary Grant. Then, the horrible Columbia czar Harry Cohn took over – cheaply. He preferred lavishing big bucks on his Rita Hayworth vehicles. Even so, it became a good hit with Montgomery, borrowed from MGM.  (Grant  played it – but in a ’42 radip version). Cohn, being Cohn, made  use of various Jordan ideas in Rita’s Down to Earth, 1946, which was almost the planned sequel, Hell Bent for Mr Jordan - cancelled when Cohn could not reassemble the original cast. As producer, star and co-director,  Warren Beatty offered Grant  $1m – or anything he asked! -  to join  the 1977 re-make, using one of the alternate 1940 titles, Heaven Can Wait.

  27. Dennis O’Keefe, Week-End For Three, 1941.    Cary Grant and Irene Dunne - or Dorothy Comingore or Ruth Warrick -  became Dennis O’Keefe and Jane Wyatt in a downsized production when RKO couldn’t land Ginger Rogers as Mrs Grant.  Later that year, they teamed  up for the anti-Nazi Once Upon a Honeymoon  -  and again ten years in Monkey Business.

  28. Monty  Woolley, The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1941.    When the comedy tickled director Howard Hawks’ fancy, he naturally wanted Grant as the titular Sheridan Whiteside… Grant  (by now a US citizen) offered his proffered salary to the British relief fund However, the   public  insisted that  only Woolley could and should play his famous stage role. (Which is how Cary was free for Arsenic and Old Lace). Orson Welles wanted to direct and play Whiteside.  (And did so in a 1972 TVersion). John Barrymore could no longer remember his lines. Tests of Robert Benchley and Laird Cregar were respectively deemed “too mild-mannered”  and “overblown and extravagant,” by producer Hal Wallis. (Probably why Charles Coburn refused to test at all). Director William Keighley also saw Charles Laughton (in tears after two terrible tests), Fredric March… and Grant was still around.  “Far too young and attractive,” said Hal Wallis.  Anyway,  who’d be  upset if Cary Grant suddenly came to dinner?

  29. Fredric March, Bedtime Story, 1941.   It had been  March who first warned his pal Gary Cooper of the new guy, who, in his third film only, Merrily We Go To Hell, had impressed March in 1932. They later shared The Eagle and The Hawk, 1933, and here, Cary was up for roles played by March in Trade Winds, 1937, and here. (So were Henry Fonda and Lloyd Nola)n. Grant was also wanted for  another  Bedtime Story; same title, different atory. If you couldn’t get Cary in 1963,  who did you get?  Why, Brando, of course!).

  30. Paul Henreid, Joan of Paris, 1941.    Another Cary rejection in May, 1941,  leading to the Hollywood debut of not only the Austrian Henreid but the French Michèle Morgan.  Also up for the WWII French Resistance leader were fellow Frenchies Charles Boyer and Jean Gabin (Morgan’s co-star in  the classsic Le quai des brumes, 1938). Also, Hollywood;s Thomas Mitchell and -  rather surprisingly -   the unprepossessing Brit, Robert Morley.  Well, he had been  the French king Louis XVI in MGM’s Marie Antoinette in  1937.   

  31. Tyrone Power, Blood and Sand, 1941    Paramount  planned the re-make of Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 classic with Grant  as the matador and Tallulah Bankhead as the matter - she simply refused to be Doña Sol.  Cary made  Hot Saturday with room-mate Randolph Scott instead.  Fox took  over the bull-ring and co-starred Power and Linda Darnell for the fourth and last time.

  32. Gary Cooper, The Pride of the Yankees, 1942.  
    Producer Samuel Goldwyn won the battle to make  a biopic of baseball great Lou Gehrig - who died at 40 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (wis why it’s now known as  Lou Gehrig’s Disease), after a moving farewell to his fans:  “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” His widow, Eleanor, wanted Cooper or Spencer Tracy to play Lou. They were not alone. Also on the mound before Cooper signed on were Grant, Eddie Albert, Brian Donlevy. Plus two other real sports heroes: ex-New York Yankee pitcher Waite Hoyt and middle-weight champion boxer Billy Soos. Gehrig appeared as himself in Rawhide, 1937, his only  film despite being listed by  producer Sol Lesser to head his Tarzan series.  Until seeing Lou’s legs. “More functional than decorative.”  At the 1942 Oscars, both Cary and Gary were nominated – for Penny Serenade and Sergeant  York.  Gary York won!

  33. Ray Milland, The Major and the Minor, 1942.    When you write your Hollywood directing debut for him and you can’t land him,  how do you replace Cary Grant? While driving home from Paramount, Billy Wilder stopped at the traffic lights - right next to Ray Milland in his car.  “I’m doing a picture. Would you like to be in it?” “Sure.” Wilder sent him the script, which Milland liked.  Next time Wilder called Milland it was for a Lost Weekend - and a Best Actor  Oscar on March 7, 1946.

  34. Joseph Cotten, Shadow Of  Doubt, 1942.   
    Even though he could not obtain his favourite  leading man  - and soul brother -  to  be the murderous Uncle Charlie, this always remained Alfred Hitchcock’s favourite Hitchcock movie. ‘We all know that,” I said when we finally met… when...  Hitch looked like  he was nodding off  after his good lunch.   Help!  What to do...?  “Hey,” I  said, “but what’s your second favourite?” He woke up,  didn’t even take time to blink.  “The Trouble With Harry,” he cried.  “But,” I yelled, “that’s my favourite!” From then on he loved me. The interview was a breeze - a terrific experience! Much of Doubt  was shot in Santa Rose, next door to San Francisco  - where years later I would interview another idol... 
    at #1, Snopoy Villas!  Charles   M Schulz.  The father of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts comic-strip gang.  Happy daze.

  35. Franchot Tone, Five Graves To Cairo, 1943.   As if he wasn’t having enough trouble casting Mouche (Ingrid Bergman, Simone Simon passed on the chambermaid), director and co-writer Billy Wilder couldn’t land Grant, either - for his hero, Corporal John J Bramble. Not for a location in Arizona at the height of summer, thank you very much.

  36. Gary Cooper, Saratoga Trunk, 1943.  Head bro Jack Warner shelled out #175,000 for the rights to the latest huge (ie rambling) novel by Edna Ferber - for yet another reunion of Errol Flynn-Olivia De Havilland.  Howard Hawks wanted to direct with pal Cary Grant as Colonel Clint Maroon. Or Richard Travis.  However,Sam Wood got the gig and used his Hemingwayesque couple from the previous year’s For Whom the Bell Tolls:  Cooper and Ingrid Bergman… as a Creole friom Sweden! In Hollywood, any accent is the right accent! . Trunk (a railroad’s main lIne) was shown to the GIs fighting WWII but delayed in the US until 1945. Sam’s assistant director was… Don Siegel.

  37. Robert Young, Claudia, 1943.    Finding her baffled husband was difficult. Don Ameche, 35, Cary Grant, 39, Franchot Tone, 38, were (already) too old for a “child bride.”  How salacious! Not really. She wasn’t Lolita but an immature 20-something aimed at Joan Fontaine, 26, Katharine Hepburn, 36, and Jennifer Jones, 24. Dorothy McGuire repeated her Broadway role at 27, opposite an old Young, 36. They were still together for the sequel, Claudia and David, 1946.  Snore!

  38. Bob Hope, They Got Me Covered, 1943.   Producer Sam Goldwyn asked Charles MacArthur to brush up the lame-brain spy for Cary.  MacArthur refused, suggesting it better suited Hope. “He can get away with more inconsistencies than Grant...” Hope lost thre films to Cary Grant:   His Girll Friday, 1939, Arsenic and Old Lace, 1941, Operation  Petticoat, 1959. They were both up for Frank Sinatra’s Nathan Detroit in  Guys and Dolls, 1955.    But   it would be a further 13 years from here before  Hope inherited a second  Grant vehicle - The Iron Petticoat, 1956.  

  39. Joel McCrea, The More The Merrier, 1943.    Director George Stevens was satisfied with McCrea-Jean Arthur.  Joel wasn’t and suggested Cary take his place.  No, Stevens wanted an all-American type.  Hah! Grant re-made it as his final film, Walk Don't Run, 1966, but in Charles Coburn's Oscared role.

  40. Robert Alda, Rhapsody In Blue, 1943.  The closest Grant came to making a musical  - from  the eleven he was offered. Before John Garfield tested, Clifford Odets had started writing his George Gershwin biopic for Cary, one of the composer's friends.  Director Irving Rapper, who wanted Tyrone Power,  felt no one would believe Cary Grant was a composer.   Plus, he was not American enough.. When, in  fact, the film was not Gershwin enough!  Cary later played Cole Porter in Night  and Day which, likewise, was not Porter enough!  Both biopix  were as close to reality  as Tom & Jerry.  (Yes, Robert Alda is Alan’s father). 

  41. Rex Harrison, Blithe Spirit, 1944.    Testier than audiences would ever realise during Arsenic and Old Lace (particularly over the cutting of his last line: “I’m a bastard!”), Cary made it clear. He would have  preferred the Noel Coward piece.

  42. Gregory Peck, Spellbound, 1944.  For “just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis,” Alfred Hitchcock lost Grant and was unhappy with Peck. “I couldn’t produce the facial expressions that Hitch wanted,” recalld P3eck. “I didn’t have that facility. He had a preconception of what the expression ought to be… He planned that as carefully as the camera angles. Hitchcock was an outside fella, and I had the Stanislavski training from the Neighborhood Playhouse, which means you work from the inside.”

  43. George Brent, Experiment Perilous, 1944.  “Life is short,” said Hippocrates, “art is long, decision difficult, and experiment perilous.” So was this period thriller, although Jacques Tourneur fans adore it.  Cary quit when his 1942 Mr Lucky producer, David Hempstead, fled RKO.. Next: Gregory Peck.  Next? George Brent?!!

  44. Dennis Morgan, God Is My Co-Pilot, 1944. 
    Cary Grant was offered almost as many pilots as musicals – even one on  stage in Nikki and he was called Cary.  (He added Grant came from a list of short names  held by the Paramount boss). Warner’s first choice for the Colonel Robert Lee Scott Jr biopic was Gary Cooper.  Then, Grant or Humphrey Bogart… or even Scott, himself.  Scott was a WWII fighter pilot hero - his dream, since the age of eight. Naturally, the  USAF refused to release  Scott.  Because as you might remember, Hollywood…  there’s a war on!!  (A 1989 episode of the Coming of Age series, was called Todd Is My Co-Pilot).

  45. Willard Parker, One Way To Love, 1944.  Odd title for a tale of two radio scriptwriters. One good, the other not so much - but needing to get back in harness for a $1,000-per-week contract.  Parker beat Grant and Lee Bowman to the ace while the not so hot Chester Morris stole everything in sight. Including Dennis O’Keefe’s role.

  46. Ray Milland, Lost Weekend, 1944.   “I am not a drinker. I’m a drunk.” About the only time, director Billy Wilder did not want Grant.  Wilder wanted José Ferrer. The studio wanted Grant - or someone close. Now who on earth was close to Cary Grant?!   Without saying a word, Milland won the Oscar on March 7, 1946.The first Welsh actor to do so. Anthony Hopkins was the second, 46 years later.

  47. James Stewart,  It's A Wonderful Life, 1946.

  48. John Ireland, Red River, 1946.   Howard Hawks lost his Cherry when  his pal passed on “the charming and impudent” cowboy. Westerns weren’t Grant’s thing and Cherry Valance was third banana to John Wayne.  And could Grant have survived the “Can I see it?... And you’d like to see mine!” routine of  Ireland and Montgomery Clift.... about their, er,  guns. Grant never did make a Western, although in his final years, Howard Hawks was planning one  for him as a consumptive dentist - Doc Holiday meets Walter Brennan.  Grant kept the grizzled galoot idea for his penultimate movie, Father Goose.  After the three films they did make. Hawks declared:  “Of the 16 hours a day when he's awake I don't think there are 20 minutes when he is not complaining. I've never seen a man more constantly in turmoil.”

  49. Clark Gable, The Hucksters, 1947.    Grant passed on ad man Vic Norman back from WWII and passed the script to Gable . The King was horrified.  "It's filthy and it isn’t entertainment."   And so Deborah Kerrl’s Hollywood debut was considerably watered down. Imagine Mad Men castrated.

  50. David Niven, The Bishop's Wife, 1947. 
    Grant’s agent, Frank Vincent, was ill and Cary did his own dealing with producer Samuel Goldwyn… and was staggered when Sam  agreed to top billing, $300,000 and a slice of the action. Grant was soon offering to give it all back and  quit when Sam changed directors, had  Oscar-winner Robert Sherwood’s script re-spun (by Billy Wilder among others) and ordered Grant and David Niven  to swop roles.  “He was very upset,” said new director Henry Koster. despite Sam giving him  a further  $100,000 to stay. “He thought the bishop was much better than the angel - a straightforward, very self-assured man, while the bishop would be comically befuddled, one of Cary's specialities.” Koster was stuck with two miserable stars contractually forced into unwanted  roles.  Niven, still recovering from the death of his wife, was the bishop and Grant, reported dead in an air crash with Howard Hughes some months before, was a “rather conceited, impudent, high-handed  magician” of an angel called Dudley - curiously re-christened Daniel in French-language dubbing. Denzel Washington had no problem about which role to play in the 1996 re-make. Cary's.

  51. Gene Kelly, The Pirate, 1947.  MGM snapped up SN Behrman’s play for… let’s see now, more stars than in the heavens above…    So how about them Minivers: Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon? Or, Garson or Myrna Loy plus Cary Grant plus Charles Laughton (as Don Pedro Vargas!)…  Or, the Notorious Grant and Ingrid Bergman couple…  or William Powell and Hedy Lamarr?  Hey, we’re MGM!  Why not a musical? With Judy Garland and… er… John Hodiak? They got on real swell in The Harvey Girls. But he  can’t really sing ‘n’ dance? No prob - Judy and Gene Kelly! And so it came to pass. Uneasily... The Minnellis (an imploding Judy and her director  father Vincente) were at each other’s creative throats. LB Mayer ordered the Judy-Kelly Voodoo number was  too torrid! (Judy-Kelly were torrid?). In fact, LB hated it all, calling it high-brow and extremely pretentious. Which it was. But that’’s Kelly  - and Minnelli - in a nutshell. "Whatever I did looked like fake Barrymore and fake Fairbanks,” said Kelly Metro lost $2m. Including for the first time in any Hollywood budget, paying a shrink. For Judy.  

  52. Gregory Peck, Gentleman’s Agreement, 1947.  
    Moss Hart loses Grant,  Round One... Specifically for Cary, his old New York pal had adapted Laura Z Hobson’s anti-racism best-seller about a journalist posing as a Jew to investigate American anti-Semetism. Impossible, said Grant, because he was Jewish, looked Jewish and no Jew could satisfactorily play the role.  Hart understood; Clifford Odets did not, Grant had always told him he was not Jewish.  Hollywood remained baffled by  the claims.  Cary gave money to Jewish causes,  including $25,000 in 1947 to the new state of Israel in memory of his dead mother.  His father might have been Jewish, his official mother was not, though he could have been the illegitimate child of a Jewish woman friend of his presumed parents...

  53. Ronald Colman, A Double Life, 1947.  How to get the hicks into Shakespeare.  Get Garson Kanin  and his wife, Ruth Gordon, to pen a script about an actor being taken over by his role.  And that is Othello, who you might recall, slays his wife in a jealous fit....  The Kanins  wrote it for the finest Shakespearian around.  Olivier.  He was busy. (And next time, when  MGM chased him for the  Kiss Me Kate musical  based on The Taming of the Shrew). Two other options, after Olivier, were  Cary Grant or Ronald Colman, Cary was wary of the Bard section. As was  Colman.  He took a chance. And won an Oscar. Around this ime,  Hitch wanted to turn Hamlet into a modern-day thriller.  With Cary, of course.  “Too heavy for me,” he  said. Of course.
  54. Fred MacMurray, The Miracle of the Bells, 1947.   After James Cagney passed on the Hollywood flack hero (he wanted to produce, as well),  producer Jesse L Lasky chased Grant and Clark Gable. And settled for a MacMurray with “the air of an embalmer” (said the New York Times) in a limp and truncated version of Russell Janney’s novel.

  55. John Lund, A Foreign Affair, 1947.   “Lund,” explained writer-director Billy Wilder, “was the guy you got after you wrote the part for Cary Grant and Grant wasn’t available.” Lund was the meat in the Marlene Dietrich-Jean Arthur sandwhich. Dietrich was also unimpressed with "that piece of petrified wood." And the suits never even noticed when, for fun, Wilder replaced Lund with Ray Milland in a take. “Maybe they thought it was Lost Weekend II.”

  56. Robert Ryan, Berlin Express, 1947.   Once Merle Oberon finished the film - and her affair with Ryan - she took the Queen Mary to New York. Grant, her fellow British secret agent (according to Charles Higham), was on the same boat - and while having tea with 15-year-old Liz Taylor he noticed an actress from a play he'd seen in London. He asked Oberon to introduced him to Betsy Drake - who became  his third wife.   (On  another sea voyage, Betsy survived the sinking off Nantucket of the SS Andrea Doria,  July 25, 1956; her lifeboat was rescued by the, Ile de France liner.

  57. Robert Montgomery, The Saxon Charm, 1947. Grant was sought for the selfish Broadway producer (think Jed Harris) when he and the rôle and the film were called The Charming Matt Saxon.

  58. James Stewart, Rope, 1948. For his first colour movie, Alfred Hitchcock tempted  fate by trying to convince Grant and Montgomery Clift to play (the implied) gay teacher and  gay student in the murder mystery ruined by  Hitch being more keen on up to ten-minute takes than the story. (He was inspired by Dallas Bower’s BBCtv production, circa 1939). The totally miscast Stewart disliked the film.   

  59. Lamberto Maggiorani, Ladri di biciclette (UK/US: Bicycle Thieves), Italy, 1948.  
    Hard to imagine that legendary producer David O Selznick could be such an oaf!   He suggested Cary for the luckless, Italian father looking for a job. “Now I think Cary Grant is a marvelous actor,” director Vittorio De Sica told the New York Times in 1973,  “I just couldn’t see him as an Italian working man,” said De Sica. “So,  I had to reject the offer."  (Anyway, he preferred Henry Fonda).DOS quit and it was another two years before  De Sica raised a budget and made the timeless neo-realism classic his way. With amateurs. “There was much excitement about Maggiorani, -  Billy Wilder wanted to star him in an American movie. But after Wilder interviewed him, he realised that this man was no actor at all. I had made him seem to be an actor, because I myself am an actor and I know immediately how to get the things I want.”

  60. Montgomery Clift, The Heiress, 1948.     A firm fan of director William Wyler, Cary told the media that he wanted to be the heartless seducer from Henry James’ 1881 novel, Washington Square.  He was too old and wily Wyler preferred what he termed a more subtle acting style. Grant was not upset when learning Wyler had taken the villllainy out of the role.

  61. Joseph Cotten, The Third Man, 1948. Jo Cotten, Orson Welles, director Carol Reed, Anton Karas’ zither score - they’re fixed in the collective imagination, as vividly as the classic post-war thriller. David O Selznick, however, is forgotten as the producer, a parody of his former Gone With The Wind glory, full of fatuous notions like Cary, Robert Mitchum (then in jail after his marijuana bust) or James Stewart  as Holly Martins…  and  Noel  Coward (!) for the titular Harry Lime (based on author Graham Greene’s superior in the UK Secret Intelligence Service: the infamous double agent Kim Philby). The Selznick version would have been forgotten in a week,  said US critic Roger Ebert, of his  favourite film - as flawless as the very best of Hitchcock.

  62. Van Johnson, Battleground, 1949.   Dore Schary was running RKO without much help from an increasingly bizarre Howard Hughes, forever  trysting his starlets at Grant’s Beverly Grove Drive home.  Hughes rejected war films, despite Schary wanting Cary - it wound  up at MGM.  So, did Schary.  LB Mayer did not want it, either. Schary proved him wrong and soon had LB’s job.

  63. Dennis Morgan, Pretty Baby, 1949.   Head brother Jack Warner  tried to sweet-talk  Grant into the project  on July 29.  No, he’d had enough of screwball comedies. Not even the notion of co-starring with his lover Betsy Drake sweetened the pill.  Grant passed. Drake stayed. Morgan took over. Grant and Drake eloped.  Everyone was happy. Except Jack Warner.

  64. John Wayne, Jet Pilot, 1949.   
    Cary Grant was always being offered pilots.  (Or musicals. Yes, musicals!).  He was busy when  his pal Howard Hughes started  re-making his cherished Hell’s Angels, 192 -  with modern jet fighters. Hughes tinkered with it for so long - close to eight years  -  that the innovative jets he filmed in October 1949 were obsolete when the film was released  in October 1957.   (During which time, Cary had made ten other movies). Said John Wayne, who replaced Audie Murphy who replaced Grant as Colonel Jim Shannon: "The final budget was something like $4million. Just too stupid for words."Like the film… But co-star Janet Leigh got to meet Grant...  “My God, he was good-looking and suave and he really does talk that way.  Quite a man! Fortunately, John Wayne could fit the film into his crowded schedule.  Another hunk of man. And he really talked that way and walked that way... the consummate model of virility.

  65. Ray Milland, A Life of Her Own, 1950.   Or The Abiding Vision when Lana Turner  nearly stalked Grant  for her first movie in two years as MGM  failed to land a co-star from the highly mixed bag of James Craig, Howard Keel, James Mason, George Murphy and Robert Ryan.  The rich mine owner was given to Wendell Corey. As lucklustre as usual, he begged off after a few weeks. “I’m not right for the rôle.”  Actually, La Turner gave him the elbow!  Enter:  Ray Milland.

  66. James Stewart, Harvey, 1950.   Playwright Mary Chase’s deal was  $100,000 per year for ten years against one-third of the film's profits. Plus approving  the movie’s Elwood P Dowd, an alcoholic who relates to an invisible giant rabbit called Harvey. Joe E Brown and Stewart were the only contenders who had played the role on-stage (Jim never stopped reviving the play in the UK and US).  Other potential Elwoods were: Grant, Jack Benny, James Cagney, Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, Jack Haley (The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz),  even the silent   erta comic Harold Lloyd and crooner Rudy Vallee. In 2000, New York  producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein planned a re-tread. With John Travolta. Spielberg as well. With Tom Hanks.

  67. Ray Milland, A Woman of Distinction, 1950.      The fact that the genius Frank Capra off-loaded this project onto Columbia must have warned Grant that  the comedy never ever rollicked.  Finally, it was Milland dealing with the straight-laced schoolteacher - Rosalind Russell chosen from a list of Jean Arthur, Joan Fontaine and Loretta Young.  Fine but Milland was no Grant and this was no Bringing Up Baby

  68. Louis Heyward, House by the River, 1950.  Sir AP Herbert’s novella was once on director-ogre Otto Preminger’s wish list.  It is doubful he could have persuaded Grant to sully his image as one of the most despicable of (accidental) killers. Rex Harrison was due as Grant’s disabled  brother, helping him hide the body… When Fritz Lang directed - down B Street way! - the real hero was cinematographer Edward Cronjager.  

  69. Richard Basehart, Fourteen Hours, 1950.  
    Howard Hawks was always looking out for a Grant vehicle. Cinderella was one possibility (Cary as her mother, James Stewart and Danny Kaye for the ugly sisters!).  Plus Fox’s man-on-a-ledge thriller if Hawks could do it his way.... “Cary’s in  bed with a very good-looking girl and her husband comes home and Cary crawls out on the ledge and pretends he’s going to  commit suicide!”  Not so funny, of course, when on the day of the drama’s preview, July 17, 1950, Dionysia  Skouras, daughter of top Fox executive Spyros P Skouras, jumped   to her death from  the fourth floor roof garden penthouse of the Fox West Coast Theatre Exchange Building, owned by her uncle, Charles Skouras.

  70. Macdonald Carey, Meet Me After The Show, 1950.   Or Don’t Fence Me In when it was the first real musical offered to Cary Grant.  (The Pirate wasn’t  musical until  Gene Kelly boarded). And why ever not?  He had sung in Madam Butterfly, 1932;  had a big orchestra number in Kiss and Make Up, 1934.    Plus a duet with Katharine Heoburn (to the leopard) in Bringing Up Baby, 1937; warblied  ‘You’re The Top’ in his  Cole Porter biopic, Night and Day  1945; and finally, sing-alonging with  the orphans  in Room For One  More, 1951.  Biographer Mark  Glancy called him a "competent though not a very expressive singer." Hollywoodites obviously never read that, ‘cos they kept asking  him to warble  in everything from Guys and Dolls to The Pajama Game…  as we shall see. The Meet Me song ‘n’ dances were far better than the tiresome script.  Which is why Cary and Rod Cameron refused to be Betty Grable’s wandering husband. Neither  one was a  happy hoofer!  

  71. Stewart Granger, The Light Touch, 1951.   Grant wanted to make Richard Brooks; second film after arranging and enjoying his debut, Crisis, together the year before. But he was too fully booked. “MGM said, well, we have another fella here,” recalled Brooks. “But the one thing the other fella didn’t have was... a light touch.” But he did have a wife. And nine years later, Brooks later married her. Jean Simmons.

  72. John Derek, Scandal Sheet, 1951.  Or The Dark Page when Sam Fuller wrote his first novel - headed towards Broderick Crawford with William Holden or John Payne - before  Howard Hawks paid $15,000 for it. After completing Red River, 1946, The Silver Fox planned the Fuller thriller (reporter investigates his editor’s crime) for Cary Grant and Edward G Robinson. Or Cary and Humphrey Bogart!!! Or, Dennis O’Keefe and  Orson Welles.  Hawks  dropped it. Phil Karlson picked it up to reunite the 1949 stars of All The King’s Men, Derek and Broderick Crawford.

  73. Dirk Bogarde, Penny Princess, 1952.   Eleven years earlier, Cary had made  Penny Serenade with Irene Dunne. There is no comment on  record  from him about refusing this cheese salesman (!)  in the  empty UK “comedy”, writer-directed by the usually much better Val Guest.  Doubtless Cary  - or Guest’s oother lofty targets: Montgomery Clift, Robert Cummings, William Holden and Frank Sinatra  - would have agreed with Bogarde’s summation.  “As funny as a baby’s coffin.”

  74. Gregory Peck, Roman Holiday, 1952.    Director Frank Capra had Cary and Liz Taylor interested. Paramount said no - then yes, once Capra had sold his rights to another top helmer, William Wyler.  “It’s my pet yarn but you can have it.  And if you like that one, come back, and I’ll  give  you Friendly Persuasion.”  Capra quit when realising he could not make the film for the Paramount ceiling of $1.5m. William Wyler made it for $2,092,487 – all in Rome. Eager for comedy, Peck felt that “every romantic comedy script I get to read has Cary Grant’s fingerprints all over it.”  And those off blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo. He  was posthumously given  the 1953 Oscar given to his “front,” Ian McLellan Hunter, forty years before.

  75. Montginery Clift, I Confess, 1952 .    Alfred Hitchcock had first been intrigued by Paul Anthelme’s 1902 play, Nos deux consciences (Our Two Consciences), in the 30s.   Mrs Hitch, Alma Reville, got him interested in the project again in 1948, when they worked on the script and offered Van Johnson (!) the lead - a Roman Catholic priest suspected of murder. Next? His future regulars: Grant and James Stewart. Which is probably why Clift drank too much; Hitch got co-star Karl Malden to warn him off the sauce.

  76. Ray Milland, Dial M For Murder, 1953.   OK, said Hitchcock, no gay professor – so how about a man planning his wife’s murder?  And in 3D? At the time she was Olivia De Havilland (or Deborah Kerr), not Grace Kelly. The Warner suits would not hear of it.  Total mis-casting! And for once, they were right. Anyway, Grant had officially retired in February because of the rise of Method-ists and the way Hollywood had treated Chaplin. Hitch shot the film in 36 days: August 5-September 25 1953. And then coaxed Grant back for his next suspenser: To Catch A Thief.

  77. Humphrey  Bogart, Sabrina (UK: Sabrina Fair), 1953.  
    One story insisted that Grant did not wish to be seen… carrying an umbrella!!   In fact and just like Bogie, Cary felt too old to be chasing Audrey  Hepburn - 25 years his junior. He refused Billy Wilder’s next film,  Love in the Afternoon, 1956, for the same reason. Then again, he never chased women in  movies: they chased him...  exactly as Audrey would do nine years later in Charade, “OK,” said director Billy Wilder, “somebody that’s older than William Holden and not so pretty.” Bogart did not like that.  Nor being second choice. He called  Wilder a Nazi, Holden quite untalented and the film “a crock of shit.” Billy threatened to let Holden win the girl (as he had off-set).  But Bogie had to win because “Bogart gets $300,000,  Holden $125,000.” (Poor Audrey got a mere $15,000). On his deathbed, Bogie apologised to Wilder. As for Audrey, Bogartnever changed his mind:  “She’s all right as long as you like to do 12 takes.”  He sometimes said: 36 takes!  (The title grew in Britain due to yet another Marilyn wannabe on UK TV. She was called, simply, Sabrina).

  78. Danny Kaye, White Christmas, 1953.    Musical offer #2….   When Bing Crosby needed a partner as Fred Astaire did not like the script and Donald O'Connor's  back was out.,  Cary Grant almost turned down To Catch A Thief because of his interest in joining Vera-Ellen as “Paramount proudly presents the first picture in VistaVision…”

  79. James Mason, A Star Is Born, 1953.

  80. Dick Powell, Susan Slept Here, 1953.   Grant was asked  to succeed Dan Dailey,  Robert Mitchum and Mickey Rooney… until Hollywood scenarist Mark Christopher became Powell’s 58th and final movie role before TV producing and film directing. Debbie Reynolds was Susan and the US Catholic Legion of Decency (!) was  aghast by the title… but not by George Washington Slept Here in 1942. Notorious Hollywood columnist Louella Parsons played herself. Well, of course, she did. The producer was her daughter, Harriet Parsons.

  81. Van Johnson, The Last Time I Saw Paris, 1954.  Cary and Shirley Temple as father and daughter…!  That was producer Lester Cowan’s plan in the 40s for F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1931 semi-autobiographical short story (and script), Babylon Revisted, set at the end of WW1 , now re-drawn for VE Day ending WWII. After some thoughts about Gregory Peck, Johnson finally fathered the overly cutesy Sandra Descher. Elizabeth Taylor was Mom.

  82. Charlton Heston, The Private War of Major Benson, 1955.   Judah Ben-Hur joins the US Army… Developed at Universal for Cary, ruined by Chuck. (Called Charlie Hero by Roddy McDowall). Heston  envied and admired Grant’s films “where you stand around in beautiful clothes, saying beautiful  things to a  beautiful  woman. Of course, the trick is being able to  do it the way Grant did.” Exactly!  As  proved  the second Chuck took over a film intended for Cary.

  83. Marlon Brando, Guys and Dolls, 1955.    
    Musical offer #3… As   proved  by such  flights of  insane  fancy about Cary, plus Gene Kelly, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, even Bing Crosby on The Road to…honesty!...  Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis,  producer Sam Goldwyn had bought a hit musical that he didn’t know what to do with. Cary did. He called Brando - his alleged one-time lover - with the magic words:  “I heard you don’t like Sinatra.  Take the role just to piss him off.”  “OK,”  said Brando, “it’s a deal!”

  84. Jack Palance, The Big Knife, 1955.   Playwright Clifford Odets told critic-turned-director Peter Bogdanovich - who directed a scene from the play in his Stella Adler drama class and the 1959 off-Broadway revival - that the lead role of the much troubled, indeed doomed movie star, Charles Castle, had been conceived with Cary in mind.  But, to paraphrase Hamlet: The best is Palance.

  85. James Mason, Forever, Darling, 1955.    The five-year-itch pair was always for one screen couple or another. From William Powell-Myrna Loy to Spencer Tracy-Katharine  Hepburn to America’s biggest TV stars… I Love   Lucy and Desi!  But Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz couldn’t swing Cary Grant as their marriage-saving angel; a fun part for James Mason.

  86. Francisco  Reiguera, Don Quixote, 1955. Years before Orson Welles started his version (finally completed (?) and released in 1972), Howard Hawks wanted to make the Cervantes tragedy with Grant and Cantinflas as the Don and as Sancho Panza.  (They were almost co-stars in  the same year’s Around the World in 80 Days).   Someone told Hawks that he couldn’t make a comedy out of a tragedy. “Oh no!” said Hawks,. “Tell me  the story of Don Quixote.” He did so and then Hawks told him: “You’ve just told me the story of three of Chaplin’s best pictures.”

  87. Tyrone Power, The Eddy Duchin Story, 1955.    Band leader Eddy Duchin had great style. He was handsome, suave, debonair, a  dreamboat. Cary Grant, obviously!  But he’d  been there/done that ten years earlier as Cole Porter in Night and Day  -  a similarly botched, and dishonest biopic.  MGM turned to the new Brit in town. Edmund Purdom  but the Duchin Estate refused to sanction certain Metro demands. Therefore,  Duchin pal  Ned Brandywine (!) taught Ty Power  most of  Eddy’s joanna tricks:  crossing his hands, playing with a single finger…  like a certain Marx brother. Duchin’s also piano-playing son, Peter, said Power’s “dark looks and boyish charm seemed perfect.” Besides, he was nine years younger.

  88. David Niven, Around The World in 80 Days, 1955.   Phileas Fogg was Niven’s favourite role. Yet he only won it because producer Mike Todd had to give up on his dream Fogg - after six months of wooing Grant into topping his planned cast of 48 stars.  Grant felt Todd was more keen on shooting locations around the world than depth of character. He still refused when Todd virtually offered him half the profits. Only half?  Cary usually got 75%!

  89. Bob Hope, The Iron Petticoat, 1956.    Rejected out of hand by Grant - making the writer Ben Hecht turn to Hope. He soon wished he hadn’t.  Hope arrived with all his writers and in Hecht's word “fractured” the picture and “blowtorched” Katharine Hepburn out of her magnificent comic performance.”  Greta Garbo called the send-up of her 1938 Ninotchka “the worst film that she had ever seen." Most critics agreed this was Kate’s worst moment since her box-office poison days. A disasterous debut for produer Harry Saltzman who was soon joining with Cubby Broccoli in trying to persuade Cary into playing a  number.  007.

  90. Gary Cooper, Love in the Afternoon, 1956.    
    Director Billy Wilder aimed high again: Grant and Audrey Hepburn. “The day I signed Cooper, he got too old.”   Coop was hammered by the  critics pointed out, being  56, looking 65,  to her 28. (He had a face-lift two years later; didn’t help).  “I always wanted Grant for anything,” said Wilder, it was a disappointment that he never said yes... Nothing personal. Intuitive.  He had very strong ideas about what  parts he wanted to play.  Tony Curtis impersonating  Grant in Some Like It Hot was as close as I got to having Cary Grant in one of my pictures.”  Critics lambastd poor  Coop looked way too ancientto be  seducing  Audrey Hepburn -  Lear and Juliet!  Yet she  was still six years away from her  Charade with Cary.

  91. Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1956.  Cary took  a year off after Dream Wife, 1952.  The scripts continued to roll in and he sent them back, even producer Sam Spiegel’s offer to play Colonel Nicholson…  Sam also contacted Ronald Colman, Noel Coward, Charles Laughton, James Mason, Ray Milland, Laurence Olivier, Eric Portman, Anthony Quayle, Ralph Richardson - and Spencer Tracy, who bluntly told Spiegel that the Colonel had to be an Englishman.  That’s how Guinness won his  Oscar.  Cary was more taken with  Shears - which went to…

  92. William Holden, The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1956.   Grant tried to talk Holden out of it when both accepted the same role. Sam Spiegel  told David Lean: “I was in  a most embarrassing position.” Sam voted for Holden as the public rarely liked a serious Gran., Cary “was absolutely broken-hearted. He cried actual tears when notified.” For the  role, Holden’s agent engineered a then unique tax-payment deal:  $250,000 plus 10% of “whatever the profits: were, to be paid at no more than $50,000 per year.” By 1975, his cut had totaled $2.8m. (Columbia and Spiegel shared the annual $100,000 interest made from Holden’s funds!) . Lean asked both men to appear in his (aborted) Gandhi.  Grant as a British cop in the Indian police force and Holden as a US doctor; neither role was in  the 1981 versipn, directed by  Richard Attenborough.

  93. Jack Hawkins, The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1956.  Grant’s 1949 flop in  his serious Crisis film troubled Sam Spiegel.  But “because of Cary’s hurt feelings,” the producer  offered him Major Warden - already given to Hawkins!  No surprise… In the 50s/60s,  to “Spiegel” was  LA slang meaning: to cajole, manipulate or downright con. That’s how producer Spiegel won most of his deals, casts and women…  while Hitchcock persuaded Cary To Catch a Thief. not to mention  North by  Northwest.

  94. John Rait, The Pajama Game, 1956.    Musical offer #4….  Frederick Brisson, Robert E Griffith and Hal Prince bought the 7 Cents novel for a stage musical  about a strike at a  pajama factory. (Honest). And  immediately started courting Grant, Marlon Brando, Bing Crosby (too expensive), Van Johnson, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra   - surely one would agree to Broadway and Hollywood!  No ? OK, they’ll discovered a new star. And did. But Rait was not right - no A-Star.  

  95. Alan Ladd, Boy On A Dolphin, 1956.   
    No to  Gina Lollobrigida, yes to Sophia Loren.  On fourth day of shooting, Cary quit to fly home where his wife, Betsy Drake, was among the survivors of the SS Andrea Doria sinking off Nantucket on July 25, 1956. Director Jean Negulesco requested the Front Office to send him someone to “look right opposite the  Italian Venus - a  big, tall, strong, romantic box-office star.”  Head Fox Spyros Skouras sent him little Alan Ladd.  “Negulesco fell in love with (Loren), so she got all the good close-ups - all you ever saw of me in most scenes was the back of my neck.  I got fed up of it.” Not as much as the mayor of Hydra, bemoaning his poor virgin island, unscathed in two world wars, was suddenly "criss-crossed by trenches so that your beautiful Sophia could walk at the same level as her lover.”

  96. David Niven, Bonjour Tristesse, 1957.   This time, Audrey Hepburn was supposed to be... his daughter! Director Otto Preminger flew to the Spanish locations of The Pride And The Passion, 1956, to sweet-talk Cary into becoming the reprobate father of Françoise Sagan’s first heroine. Five years later, Audrey was chasing Cary around Paris  in Charade.  
  97. Clark Gable, Run Silent, Run Deep, 1957.  Two years  earlier, both the Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times said Delmar Daves would direct Grant.  But they’d long completed their submarine service on Destination Tokyo, 1943.  Cary woud skipper another sub in Operatipn Petticoat, 1959.

  98. Clark Gable, Teacher’s Pet, 1957.    Not keen on  a  quickly re-tuned frolic as tough newsman joining Deborah Kerr’s journalism class. For Gable, she was the 21 years younger Doris Day – in the matrix for  her Rock Huidson rom-coms and. indeed, whjen she was given That  Touch of Mink by Cary in 1962.\

  99. James Stewart,  Bell, Book and Candle, 1958.   Cary wanted it for him and his third wife, Betsy Drake. But MCA had already grabbed the play for Stewart –Lew Wasserman’s favourite client. (Neither news delighted Cary, who quit Wasserman by 1960 for suggesting a Grant TV series  - produced by MCA, of course).  Stewart’s worst casting since Rope (when he also stood in for Cary) was the price Columbia’s hated boss, Harry Cohn, charged  for allowing Kim Novak join Jim in Paramount’s Vertigo. And that is exactly where Stewart wanted to be, back with  Hitch.  But he blamed their Vertigo on Stewart looking took old and didn’t want him around when  moving North By Northwest. So Cary travelled (for about $750,000 and 10%)) while Stewart bell, book and candled.

  100.  Ray Walston, Damn Yankees!, 1958.    Musical offer #5…. Stanley Donen, his Grandon business partner,  “pleaded  and pleaded and told him how well I thought he would do with the role.” No way!  And obviously. For Mr Applegate was actually, aka… The Devil.  And so Walston repeated his  Broadway gig.

  101. Dean Martin, Rio Bravo, 1958.

  102. Alec Guinness, The Scapegoat, 1958.  MGM wanted Cary. Everyone did - except Daphne Du Maurier. For the film of her novel (put down by scenarist Gore Vidal as a modern take on The Prisoner of Zenda), she  insisted upon Guinness - not quite the same charisma. However, Alec saved (or, at least, completed)  the film by directing when Robert Hamer (maker of his  Ealing Studios classic breakthrough, Kind Hearts and Coronets, 1949) was in his cups.

  103. Gregory Peck, Beloved Infidel, 1959.   One idea was a real-life couple – Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn - as F Scott Fitzgerald and his Hollywood columnist lover, Sheila Graham.   All  talk of Grant playing Fitzgerald came to naught. As he was prone  to exclaim: “Plenty of room up front!”

  104. Louis Jourdan, Can-Can,  1959.  Musical offer #6… Well, he had sung in some films and  had even  played the show’s composer Cole Porter!   Not  even  his intended co-star, Frank Sinatra, could  persuade Cary to partner Zizi Jeanmaire, the celebrated  French  stage star (or the French movie queen Martine Carol). Cary had no time to consider the offer being  at his most  irritable during the friction-fraught Houseboat when Grant  was being by spurned by Sophia Loren - marrying Carlo Ponti by proxy in Mexico!  Cary was also still seething at the way Sinatra stalked out of The Pride and The Passion locations.

  105. Gregory Peck, The Guns of Navarone, 1960.  
    Obvious thinking from writer-producer Carl Foreman - after Grant’s assured handling of the hugecannon in The Pride and The Passion…!  Oh and with Brando in the Anthony  Quinn role.  Others In  the mix for Captain Keith Mallory included three stars from his Oscar-winning Bridge on the River Kwai script: Alec Guinness (too busy), Jack Hawkins (having cancer treatment), William Holden (too pricey).  And  Gary Cooper (another cancer victim) from Foreman’s High Noon. Plus  Marlon Brando, Richard Burton, Rock Hudson. Peck tried an English accent. He needn’t have bothered. Mallory was a New Zealander. The actual mission the film was based on was Winston Churchill’s worst WWII blunder – so he adored Foreman’s revision and asked him to film his autobiography, My Early Life, which he did as Young Winston i in 1971. Navarone was the 1961 box-office champ., allowing Foreman to direct his next one, The Victors, 1962.


  106. Robert Mitchum, The Grass Is Greener, 1960.   As it was a Grandon (Grant-Stanley Donen) production, obviously Cary would be one of the leads.  His original casting was Rex Harrison and his wife, Kay Kendall, as Lord and Lady Rhyall with himself as US businessman Charles Delacro.  Kay’s death from leukaemia (at a tragically young 32) meant her husband withdrew, Grant took his place opposite Deborah Kerr.  Mitchum became Delacro. And  the film, helas, became a flop!

  107. Yves Montand, Let's Make Love, 1960.   "The script [tweaked by Arthur Miller] was now about as funny as pushing grandma down the stairs in a wheelchair." Years after the movie and their affair, Montand confessed that co-starring with Monroe "was a part that could have shot me down in flames for the rest of my career." Which is probably why Stephen Boyd, Yul Brynner, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Charlton Heston, William Holden, Rock Hudson and James Stewart  fled  what was then  called The Billionaire.  That and Marilyn’d  inabllity to turn  up for work on time.  Oh yeah, and the fact that the public woiuld be watching her, not them.

  108. Rex Harrison, Cleopatra, 1960.

  109. Geoffrey Horne, Giuseppe venduto dai fratelli/The Story of Joseph and His Brethern, Italy-Yugoslavia, 1960.   
    Bizarre idea: Cary Grant in a Biblcal epic.  It was the dream wish of Columbia czar Harry “King” Cohn - despised by the industry as much as Joseph was by his siblings. Playwright Clifford Odets had meetings with Grant and noted his “evasive, non-committal, commitment... strange flirting...”  Cary was more interested in another Odets project (unmade) about a man with 18 aliases, rather than a saint with eleven brothers, including the  future  spaghetti cowboy Terence Hill.  Horne, of  course, came from the WWII film that Cary had turned  down. The Bridge on the River Kwai.  

  110. John Gavin, Back Street, 1960.    For the third Hollywood take on Fannie Hurst’s notorious weepie, the married guy with Susan Hayward as a mistress was a battle between Steve Forrrest, William Holden, Peter Lawford, Gregory Peck, Efrem ZSimbalist Jr.  Plus “how old Cary Grant?” - who was just that. “Too old.”  In her July 15 column, gossip queen Hedda Hopper stupidly suggested Gavin. Hadn’t the great know-all heard that Hitchcock called him The Stiff the year before during Psycho? I bet she never mentioned in her column that Gavin never made another Hollywood film for six years!

  111. James Mason, Lolita, 1960.   

  112. Michael Redgrave, The Innocents, 1961.  Searching for the innocent kids’ debonair uncle, British director Jack Clayton spied Cary in the studio restaurant.  “I had the nerve to offer him - the biggest star at the time - this tiny part.  He was so charming.  Didn’t find it an insult.  He said he’d do it if I could  bring back the uncle at the end of the film.  I was torn... Having Cary would’ve meant a lot but seeing him at the end would’ve been impossible. I’m probably the only director who ever said no to Cary Grant.”   (Far from it!).

  113. Rock Hudson, Lover Come Back, 1961.   Tony Curtis and his idol Cary Grant  were being called for Doris Day’s new screen lover. Until co-producer Stanley Shapiro (one of the writers of this and the previous Pillow Talk, 1959) said: “Hey,  it’s for Doris and Rock.” Of course it was!  The second of their three rom-coms,  all riffs on the Doris-Clark Gable Teacher’s Pet, 1957.  Six months later, Doris and Cary were shooting That Touch of Mink, also co-writer-produced by Shapiro.  Why not Rock? Because the co-stars’ companies made the movie! There was an 18 year age gap between Grant and Day – and he had refused Teacher’s Pet  because he felt too old for Doris! The Gable-Day gap was... 21 years!  And shot in black-white to make Gable look  younger.  Didn’t work! 

  114. Steve McQueen, The Honeymoon Machine, 1961.  Cary avoided the US Navy lieutenant busting a casino roulette table with his ship’s computer when the comedy was called The Golden Fleece. He wuz right. “I’ll take full credit for that one,” said McQueen’s agent Hillard Elkins.“It was a dumb move for both Steve and me. We were looking the other way and we should’ve passed.”McQueen said he hated this movie even more than… The  Blob, 1957.

  115. Robert Preston, The Music Man, 1961.   Musical offer #7… Jack Warner begged… but Cary Grant felt only the Broadway show’s star should do it. "Not only will I not star in it, but if Robert Preston doesn't star in it, I will not see it,” he said – he used a similar line about Rex Harrison when Warner offered him My Fair Lady in 1963. Also refusing to steal Preston's  thunder:  Milton Berle, Ray Bolger, Art Carney, Dan Dailey, Danny Kaye, Phil Harris, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

  116. Jason Robards, Tender Is The Night, 1961.    Producer David Selznick first tried to film F Scott Fitzgeral’s last completed novel  at RKO in 1951  - with his wife, Jennifer Jones. (Or Elizabeth Taylor). Cary remained loyal to the discarded Irene Selznick (a friend since his New York stage days; she produced Marlon Brando’s Streetcar Named Desire  on Broadway in 1947). He was also against the dramatics of Dr Dick Diver, the shrink falling for his patient. And he was right. Again.The fiasco (Henry King directing Jones) did not save Fox sinking below Cleopatra’s Plimsoll line. Other potential Dicks over the years were Warren Beatty, Montgomery Clift, Glenn Ford (!), Paul Newman, Christopher Plummer. Plus true Brits Dirk Bogarde and Richard Burton. Hmm, Burton and Taylor - now that would  have worked.

  117. Stuart Whitman, The Comancheros, 1961.   Oklahoma novelist Paul Wellman (Cheyenne, Jubal, etc) penned the book with Grant in mind for his hero Paul Regret.  However, once the 60s began, Cary was too old - anyway, he’d would  never have accepted  second billing to John Wayne. Other potential Paul Regrets included  Steve Forrest, John Gavin, Charlton Heston, Tom Tryon, Robert Wagner.

  118. Peter O’Toole, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.

  119. Jack Hawkins, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.

  120.  Edward de Souza, Phantom of the Opera, 1961.   “Mr Carreras - there’s a Mr Grant to see you...” Everyone recognised the surprise visitor to Hammer House in London’s  Film Row. They just  never understood why he was there.  Well, old Cary wanted to make a horror film! That much is true. That Hammer immediately asked him to play The Phantom is not.  Producer Anthony Hinds offered the rubbishy romantic lead. (At 58). And that explains why Cary Grant never made a Hammer horror film….The closest he came was acting, just the once, with Peter Cushing in The Howards of Virginia, 1940. 

  121. Sean Connery,  From Russia With Love,  1962.
  122. Rod Taylor, The Birds, 1962.  Alfred Hitchcock had found his ”new Grace Kelly” in ex-model Tippi Hedren. He wanted an experienced player on hand to help steer her first film.  So he considered Cary Grant, Farley Granger, eve Sean Connery - wrestling with Dr No at the time.  Universal told Hitch that the birds and his name were all the stars he required. And he booked Sean for his next Tippi-flop, Marnie, 1963.

  123. Rock Hudson, Man’s Favourite Sport?, 1962.  
    Ah, Cary Grant and Rock Hudson. The master and the apprentice… Nolo contendere!  After all, “looks like he was born in tails,” one critic said of Cary in   Sinners in the Sun as long ago as  1932!  After  knocking the whippersnapper off the top spot, to fourth, in Box Office magazine’s stars of 1958, Grant often had fun with Hudson, latest of a long line of wannabe rivals (Tony Curtis, James Garner, John Gavin, Steve McQueen, Peter O’Toole, Gregory Peck, Rod Taylor, etc)  who looked fine enough  in tuxedos but had  had little else to offer.  “Rock was not a comedian,” said Stanley Donen.  Hudson  worked hard - too hard - to match the matchless in his Doris Day rom-coms: Pillow Talk, 1958 -  and  Lover Come Back, first offered to Cary in  1960. That was the year when, in The Grass is Greener, Grant called himself Rock Hudson in a  telephone call! He next  took over the intended third Rock ’n’ Doris frolic, That Touch of Mink, 1961, and then, the  two guys  were  touted as 1963 co-stars in what became a  Marlon Brando-David Niven caper. Given the rumours over the years, imagine the impact of the poster:  Cary Grant & Rock Hudson in Bedtime Story…!  
    For his Sport, Howard Hawks first figured on reuniting his Bringing Up Baby team of Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Kate passed and, at pushing 60, Grant was worried about romancing  a younger woman - Leslie Parrish, 27 (Daisy Mae in Li’l Abner, 1959);  Juliet  Prowse, (Frank Sinatra’s fiance!) 26; or Hawks’ eventual choice of Paula Prentiss, Mrs Richard Benjamin, 24. As director Peter Bogdanovich, explained: “Grant was fearful of looking like a dirty old man.” That didn’t stop stop him calling Stanley Donen back to change bis mind after having first passed on Charade -  opposite Audrey Hepburn, aged... 32.

  124. David Niven, Bedtime Story, 1963.  Universal’s original idea: Grant-Rock Hudson in King of the Mountain would have set tongues wagging. OK  then.. Cary Grant-Tony Curtis? No! Rock Hudson-Warren Beatty didn’t spark, either and so the guys became -  incredibly! - David Niven-Marlon Brando.  They were a lot of fun.  On the set, that ik\s,  not in the movie, mown down by New York critic Judith Crist as “a vulgar soporific for  the little-brained ones.” (For the next, 1988 re-hash, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, they became Michael Caine-Steve Martin).

  125. Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins, 1963.  Musical offer #8… OK, chimney sweep Bert had to sing and dance it up. But he also had to be at home with a Cockney accent.  Only a few US stars could manage that. Sadly, Van Dyke was not among them.  Nor were Cary, Fred Astaire or Danny Kaye.  Either of the two Brits  in the loop, Jim Dale and Ron Moody, would have been less execrable. Van Dyke then blamed the worst Cockney accent in movie history on his accent coach, J Pat O’Malley, a regular  voice in Disney toons. “His British accent was even worse,” complained Van Dyke.  Yet he still booked O’Malley as his father in a 1964 chapter of The Dick Van Dyke Show.    Before the UK reviews exploded?

  126. Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady, 1963.   
    Musical offer #9…  To protect the  $5.2m  he paid for the rights, Jack Warner wanted star power - like Audrey Hepburn and Cary instead  of Broadway’s original Eliza Doolittle and Professor Higgins: Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. Warner had  several other Professors in mind. From the inspired (Grant, Noël Coward, Peter O’Toole, George Sanders) to the plain stupid (Rock Hudson as a grumpy English gentleman?). Plus dowdy Michael Redgrave, who had the style but the box-office appeal of George Zucco.  (Who?)  (Exactly!) “At that time, I was considered more commercial than Rex Harrison,” Grant told Guy Flatley in the New York Times, 1973. “The thing that stopped me was… I’d seen the show on stage three times and didn’t think anyone could do it better than Rex. Warner kept pushing, though, so finally I said to him, 'Look, Rex does it; use him.’ Actually,  I always thought the movie should have been done with Julie Andrews, too, although I adore Audrey Hepburn and had a great time with her in Charade.  I just think that once something has been done to perfection, why interfere with success? ”   Warner did not give up easily. Refusing $1.5m, Grant declared, paraphrasing his Music Man comment about Robert Preston:  “Not only will  I not play it, but if you don’t put Rex in it, I won’t go see it.”

  127. Paul Newman, What a Way to Go!, 1963.  A certain Louisa May Foster takes her shrink through her five late husbands – every one a laugh. (If only). Prepared for Marilyn Monroe before her tragic death, I Love Louisawas given to Elizabeth Taylor with Marilyn’s Marlon Brando. Or Richard Burton (of course), Tony Curtis, Brad Dexter, Kirk Douglas, Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, Rock Hudson, Burt Lancaster, Steve McQueen, Marcello Mastroianni, David Niven. Even Brad Dexter, the Magnificent Seventh that everyone forgets.  Finally, Shirley MacLaine wed Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Dick Van Dyke… but not Frank Sinatra who wanted   $500,000 or no show.  Oh and Dean Martin as a department store mogul called Lennie Crawley, no less. This is where I usually say: And you can never go wrong with a Crawley. Not this (terrible) time!  Steve McQueen and Charlton Heston were up for Hubby #2, Paul Newman’s  American in Paris artist. Sounded like a reprise for Gene Kelly. Except he was Hubby #4, described as a song and dance man about to break into Hollywood - what at age 51! Yes, the movie was that bad.  “An abomination,” said The New Leader critic John Simon.

  128. Oskar Werner, Ship of Fools, 1964.    Not the comedy implied by the tile - all the  more so if Cary had agreed tp top the billing of this Grand Hotel At Sea  of 30s’ stereotypes  on  a cruise liner going the wrong way, from Mexico to the newly Nazi Germany.  Director Stanley Kramer started working  on Grant for the alcoholic doctor while they were making The Pride and The Passion, 1956. Could have been an Oscar in it.Cary, as 9almost) always, knew better.

  129. Peter O'Toole, What's New Pussycat, 1964.   The oh-so-dated 60s farce grew out of Czech writer Ladislaus Bus-Fekete's comedy about a  priapic Don Juan,  Lot's Wife  - bought expressly for Cary by agent-turned producer Charles K Feldman.  But Cary never approved any versions of the script  (by Billy Wilder’s co-writer, IAL Diamond,  among others).  Feldman’s next target, Warren Beatty, said much the same about Woody Allen's treatment.  Warren provided  the title - his telephone chit-chat opening to his legion of  ladies. (For Once Upon A Honeymoon in 1942, Cary had  played… Pat O’Toole).

  130. Gregory Peck, Arabesque, 1965.   The role, the film, hey the casting of La Loren - it was all for Cary.  He still backed off. Peck had trouble with his comedy timing and would apologise to Stanley Donen. “Remember, I’m no Cary Grant.”   No one needed reminding.

  131. Richard Burton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1965. 
    Thinking of their image, most actors were scared of being the emasculated husband of a blowsy, loud-mouthed Elizabeth Taylor. Ernest Lehman was the producer and scenarist  - well, the Burtons put all of playwright Edward  Albee’s lines back into the script, leaving just two by Lehman!  He wanted Peter O’Toole as George. (The wife was Martha!). Liz liked Broadway’s George, Arthur Hill, but Jack Lemmon actually accepted the role - and changed his mind next day. (A matter, said insiders, more of money than fear).  Next up: Henry Fonda, James Mason -  and, amazingly, Glenn Ford!   Plus Grant, presumably opposite an early idea for the harridan wife, his Notorious and Indiscreet  co-star: Ingrid Bergman. Cary was way too smooth for such in-couple brawling. His public would hardly have enjoyed this side (or sight) of him... presumably known only to his five wives (Virginia Cherrill, Barbara Hutton, Betsy Drake, Dyan Cannon, Barbara Harris) and the one that got away, Sophia Loren.   Then,  Liz simply said: “What about Burton?”   Just like she’d said about directors: “You know who’s a genius? Mike Nichols.” That’s how  Broadway’s king started his amazing  film-directing career – after  studying the films of Fellini, Frankenheimer, Jewison,  Kazan, Truffaut  and, above all, George Stevens’ classic, A Place in the  Sun. The star of which was… Liz Taylor.   

  132. Paul Newman, Torn Curtain, 1965.   For what was being touted  as The Master's 50th film ((it was #61 of 64), Hitchcock wanted Grant – or Norman…er Anthony Perkins – as his Euro-thriller hero, Professor Michel Armstrong. Universal refused Perkins (too much associated  with Pyscho.. with sequels to come). Hitch then tried to reunite his great  North by Northwest couple, Grant and Eva  Marie Saint. But Cary said, yet again, that he was too old. And indeed, he (sadly) retired that year after completing Walk Don’t Run – ironically with Samantha Eggar, also on Hitch’s Curtain list for Sarah Sherman.   It was obvious that for his “50th”, Hitch craved people he knew and enjoyed rather than newcomers  foisted on hm by Universal – Paul Newman and Julie Andrews.  Their  supposed box-office clout never saved the film, anyway . And that’s when Hitch told me, in London on April 21, 1966: “Casting is the first compromise.”

  133. Michael Caine, Gambit, 1965.   Shirley MacLaine arranged Caine’s Hollywood debut - in an update of a  Bryan  Forbes script which had been bespoke tailored for Cary in the early 60s.  But (a) he felt too ancient  for the part, (b), he’d played it before in Hitchcock’s  far superior To Catch A Thief)  and (c)  hadn’t they  heard, he was retiring...

  134. Marlon Brando, A Countess from Hong Kong, 1966.   First designed  as Stowaway  30 years earlier (!) for Paulette Goddard  (then Mrs Chaplin) and Cary Cooper, now played by Sophia Loren and Brando - bitterly disappointed by the genius directing, Charles Chaplin, at 77.  "Probably the most talented man the medium has ever produced,” said Brando. That was before trying to work with him on the set, when he the  nasty, sadistic asshole from Hell.  “And,” added Brando, “I’m being kind.”

  135. Christopher Plummer, Triple Cross, 1966.   Director Terence Young never managed to have Cary as James Bond - nor, another spy, the real-life burglar turned  WWII double-agent. Eddie Chapman,  Smooth, all right, just not suave.

  136. Dick Van Dyke, Fitzwilly, 1966.
    As the epitome of English butlers,  aiding  his penniless employer by organising a crime syndicate, Van Dyke
    tried hard to match the maestro.  But as Grant said:“Everybody wants to be Cary  Grant.   I  want to be Cary Grant!” Of all possible odd couples, both Grant and Van Dyke were ridIculed in the UK for their lousy Cockney  accents – Cary’s  in Sylvia Scarlett and Dick‘s, 31 years later,  in Mary Poppins.  When Grant made Scarlett, Van Dyke was… ten.

  137. Omar Sharif, Funny Girl, 1967. Musical offer #10...   The Jewish Barbra Streisand preferred an Arab screen lover (on and off-screen) to Grant. And the others short-listed for her gambling man Nick Arnstein: Marlon Brando,  Sean Connery, Paul Newman, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra.  Plus three  TVstars, Robert Culp, James Garner, David Janssen, that she would have chewed up and spat out. She as an expert in cutting her co-stars’ roles to ribbons.  Asked whether she’d been difficult to work with, director William Wyler said:  "No, not too hard, considering it was the first movie she ever directed"!
  138. Peter  O'Toole, Goodbye Mr. Chips, 1968.  Musical offer  #11…  For the musical version of  the 1938 classic which won British Robert Donat an Oscar for his portrayal of the gentle schoolmaster, Mr Charles Edward Chipping, almost every  possible Brit was contacted. From Albert Finney  to Peter  Sellers, by way of Richard Harris, Christopher Plummer and Paul Scofield. Mrs Chips was important, too, and the couple went from Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn or  the Doctor Dolittle‘s Rex Harrison-Samantha Eggar to Camelot’s Richard Burton-Julie Andrews or  Burton-Lee Remick…or surprise, surprise, Elizabeth Taylor. Plus Burton-Petula Clark, except he turned down “a singer!” (What was Julie Andrews?).  Finally and gloriously, the Chips became Pete ‘n’ Pet.  

  139. Topol, Follow Me! 1971.    Cary Grant as the detective following Julie Andrews as a possibly unfaithful wife became  Burton-Elizabeth Taylor for a wee while - like so many projects during the Burtons’ boom. Marcello Mastroianni was to keep an eye  on Rex Harrison’s missus, Faye Dunaway. Finally, Israeli  star, Topol, trailed  Mia Farrow in director  Reed’s final film. Chicago critic Roger Ebert shredded it. “The actors actually manage to make this look worse than it sounds (and I am not being very easy on it).” The play by Peter Shaffer… whose twin  brother, Anthony, wrote…

  140. Laurence Olivier, Sleuth, 1972.  US director Joseph Mankiewicz’ first thought. Olivier second, while the playwright Anthony Shaffer  wanted to keep faith with his West End star, Anthony Quayle.  The other acting credits - Teddy Martin, John Matthews and “introducing Alec Cawthorne” are all fake cues  (such as Eve Channing… remember Mankiewicz made All About Eve!) as this is a clever two-hander. “Indeed,” said Mank, “this is only film I’ve ever done where the entire cast is nominated.”The entire cast being Olivier and Michael Caine! And Mank for Best Director. A good one to retire on.  

  141. George Segal, A Touch of Class,  1972.  With a title like that, it just had to  had to be offered to Cary Grant. Who else? But…  too late! Even though his good friend and business partner in Brut Productions, the Rayette-Fabergé boss George Barrie, was offering it to him - and Sophia Loren!  “Ten years ago I would have made it in a second,” said Cary.  Not now. He was retired and he meant it this time.  It was, he said, time.   Glenda Jackson won her second Oscar and  Segal replaced Roger Moore  due to his debut as James Bond (once  offered to Grant!) in  Live and Let Die. The pitch became: ''Not since Gable battled with Colbert and Hepburn battled with Grant has comedy been such fun. Watch Segal take on Jackson.''

  142. Laurence Harvey, Night Watch, 1972.   He’d won his (life achievement) Oscar, lost his mother and movies just didn’t matter anymore. Not even a scary thriller  opposite Elizabeth Taylor - produced, again, by pal George Barrie. But ‘twas a bit of a re-run of the  1960 Midnight Lace  Doris Day. Abnd…Rex Harrison).

  143. Art Carney, Harry and Tonto, 1973.  “I’m retired!” Paul Mazursky wrote it for Jimmy Cagney to be the  widower of 72, on an odyssey across the US after being evicted with his cat, Tonto.  Also refusing: Cary, Danny Kaye, Laurence Olivier and  Frank Sinatra.  Carney got the job – and I was there when he won the Oscar for it on April 8, 1975.

  144. Paul Newman, Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s’ History Lesson, 1975.  Much earlier, 1968.Grant and director Mervyn Le Roy planned their own warts-and-all study on William F "Buffalo Bill" Cody.  But it was not based on the Arthur Kopit play, The Indians. Then again, nor was Newman’s... and he’d paid $500,000 for the rights to film the play with his Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid director George Roy Hill. However, it became, as the credits put it, “Robert Altman’s Absoloutely Unique and Heroic Enterprise of Inimitable Lustre" (no critic agreed!)  and his and co-writer Alan Rudolph’s script contained hardly a word from the play. 

  145. Peter Finch, Network,  1976. 
    "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore…"  Both director Sidney Lumet and writer Paddy Chayefsky came from the golden age of US TV - and pulled no punches in detailing where the medium was going (down the drain. Indeed, their fictional USB fourth network became, well, Fox.  After tenuous thoughts about real TV News anchors (John Chancellor and the venerable Walter Cronkite), Paddy had a wish list of real actors  for the unhinged news anchor Howard Beale: the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.”  Henry Fonda  found it   “too hysterical” (his daughter Jane was up for Faye Dunaway’s Oscar-winning role), Glenn Ford,  Cary Grant, Gene Hackman, William Holden (he played news exec  Max Schumacher, instead), Walter  Matthau, Paul Newman, James Stewart (appalled by the script’s bad language!). Plus George C Scott , who refused because he had once been “offended” by Lumet! (Yet his final film was Lumet’s final film, Gloria, 1998).   Lumet had just the one name - and this proved to be Finchy’s farewell. Lumet was with Peter when he died. They were in the Beverly Hills Hotel, awaiting  a joint interview,  when  Finch collapsed and died soon after in hospital, never regaining consciousness from his heart attack.  His performance won the first posthumous acting Oscar. (Ironically, the second was also for an Aussie, Heath Ledger, for The Dark Knight... 33 years later).

  146. Gregory Peck, MacArthur, 1976.  "I shall return," said, fanously, General Douglas MacArthur in WWII. ”I shall not,” said Cary Grant. Retired really meant retired. Except nobody believed him! Also on Pattonproducer Frank McCarthy's (very) short list were Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston and, of course,  George C Scott (“too close to Patton”)..  Plus, incredibly, both Grant and John Wayne up for the same role as…  Laurence Olivier!   At one point Universal announced Steven Spielberg as director of McCarthy’s final production. He’d run out of generals.   Three years later, Olivier was MacArthur in  Terence Young’s Inchon, 1979.   

  147. James Mason, Heaven Can Wait, 1977.   Producer, star, co-director Warren Beatty (who refused almost as many films as Grant; including his Charade, 1963) offered Cary  $1m – or “any fee”! -  to play Mr Jordan, God to his pals.   “Not a very good part," Cary  told Peter Bogdanovich, when Beatty asked him to direct. (He also asked Mike Nichols and Arthur Penn before co-co-directing himself with scenarist Buck Henry). “All those long speeches and none of the jokes.  Claude [Rains]  pulled  it off in the original - he was good, but it's not really a very good part.” He knew because, as noted in #26, the legendary Broadway producer Jed Harris wanted to film Harry Segal’s play in 1940 with Cary - instead of Robert Montgomery.  Before signing Mason, Beatty asked  the five times US Presidential  candidate, Eugene McCarthy, to play God.  The ex-Mrs Grant, Dyan Cannon,  also urged him  to  join hert in the movie. She played Julia Farnsworth (Beatty was really trying!) and won a support actress Oscar.

  148. Robert Wagner, Hart To Hart, TV, 1979-1996.    As if Cary needed TV!  And he never did. All his wortk was film. When Sidney Sheldon’s  Double Twist couple  were both spies, the obvious  initial choice for the role of Jonathan Hart was Cary.  However, he  75 years old and  had long retired. Wagner (like Sean Connery) was among the few  Hollywoodians  who looked at home  in black tie as much as Grant did.

  149. Paul Newman, The Verdict, 1982.   Among many considered for the drunk lawyer: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redfod, Frank Sinatra... Cary was hardly likely to comeback and ruin his impeccable image.  Watching it in 2019  for the 100th time, George Clooney was attracted to Newman’s image.  "That is a proper big-time, world-class movie star saying to the world: ‘I’m a character actor now.’ He busted his ass. And you couldn’t make that as a film now. Not like that. The films that you used to get - Three Days of the Condor and those kind of films - you couldn’t make now. Even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would be hard to make, because the guys die in it."

  150. Lee Marvin, Gorky Park, 1983.   The USSR banned locations for Hollywood;s version of  the first of Martin Cruz Smith’s nine books about the Soviet  Sherlock, militsiya officer Arkady Renko…  because of   negative stereotypes of Russians and Communism. Ah yes but an American villain… turned down by Cary Grant and an ill Burt Lancaster. Enter  a surprisingly suave Marvin. “:People  think I've gone bonkers,” said UK director Michel Apted. “But everyone who knew him said what an intelligent sophisticated man Lee really is. He  didn't have to play the cursing, swearing, stubble-chinned ex-Marine everyone knows. It's good to go against type-casting sometimes."  Moscow still had to be played by Helsinki.



                                                                                                                   >>> Tributes


Peter Bogdanovich spoke for us all: "I always wished he hadn’t stopped."

Burt Reynolds also loved him. “Nobody understood what the hell that accent was. I don’t think he did, but it was wonderful.”

Charton Heston immensely admired Grant and longed to work with him. “Because he always did those films where you stand around in beautiful clothes, saying beautiful things to a beautiful woman. It’s always seemed like a fine way to make a living. Of course, the trick is being able to do it the way Grant did.” Exactly!







































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