Payday Loans
Rock Hudson (1925-1985)

  1. Edmund Purdom, The Egyptian, 1953.     Once Brando split for his New York shrink’s couch, head Fox Darryl Zanuck scurried around searching for a new Sinuhe, the court physician - Hudson, Dirk Bogarde, John Cassevetes Montgomery Clift,  Richard Conte, John Derek,  John Lund, Guy Madison, Hugh O’Brian, Michael Pate. Fox borrowed MGM’s wooden Purdom and sued Brando for $2m, settled when he agreed to make (the much worse) Désirée.   Or Daisy-Rae as he called the one that got away from Napoleon.  
  2. John Derek, The Ten Commandments, 1954.  
  3. Alan Young,  Gentleman Marry Brunettes, 1955.      Mary Anita Loos, niece of writer Anita Loos, got to know Hudson at Newport.  With her co-writer  and  director  husband  Richard Sale,  she offered him the film  -  opposite Jane Russell,  Jeanne Crain. Except  he was firmly tied to Universal.

  4. Don Murray, Bus Stop, 1956. 
    Elvis Presley had been first choice for the dumbcluck cowpoke, Beauregard Decker - aka Bo - taking Marilyn Monroe's Cherie away from all this bar singing stuff.  Elvis & Marilyn – what a wet-dream combo! Except  “Colonel” Tom Parker didn’t want nobody takin’ the shine off his boy!   Despite (or because of) Marilyn being all Stanislavskjy at the time, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift weren’t interested. (Clift learned his lesson and made The Misfitswith her).  Marilyn only ever wanted Rock Hudson but…  He was more into sob schlock opposite Jane Wyman. Anyway, Universal would not release him. (Yet).   “More  important to  have  him for  our own pictures.” said  production chief Ed  Muhl.    Also considered: three tele-cowpokes: Fess Parker, aka Davy Crockett, John Smith, from Laramie, and the lanky Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, a  certain Clint Eastwood.  Murray (the first star I interviewed at the first of my 26 Cannes festivals in 1961) won an Oscar nomination for his debut  and wed his other co-star, Hope Lange.

  5. Marlon Brando, Sayonara, 1957.  Imagine the absolute idiocy of the propostion.  Stage-screen director Joshua Logan was hoping Brando would support Hudson! Then, Logan stopped sniffing glue - or whatever.  Hudson refused this fim and Ben-Hur to make A Farewell To Arms (and quickly regretted it). Red Buttons supported Brando (in the main role, of course) and collected a support actor Oscar. (Brando and Hudson allegedly had a short affair.  Most Marlon affairs were short).
  6. William Holden, The Bridge on the River Kwai,  1957.    Hudson refused Kwai, Sayonara and Ben-Hur,  while his own choice, A Farewell to Arms, became one of  movie history’s greatest turds - “biggest mistake of my  career.” Worse for its iconic producer David O Selznick; he never made another picture.
  7. John Gavin,  A Time To Love and A Time To Die, 1958.       Douglas Sirk wanted Mr Newman.  The Universal studio  gave him Mr Cardboard.
  8. Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1958.    This would have lent an entirely different bent to scenarist Gore Vidal’s view that the truth of the unmotivated emnity in the “infantile story” was that Ben-Hur and Messala had been boyhood lovers. “Ben turned straight as a die while Messala remained in love with Ben.” Universal rejected MGM’s $750,000 loan offer for Hudson - the Magnificent Obsession of ’54. “Rock, or anyone else, was never loaned for the sole purpose of making money,” declared the U production chief Ed Muhl. And certainly not for a any script with a dodgy homosexual subtext. Director William Wyler (of the original’s 1924 crew) then studied Italians Cesare Danova and Vittorio Gassman. Plus Montgomery Clift, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, Van Johnson (no, really!), Burt Lancaster - and Edmund Purdom, who had picked up another epic dropped by Brando, The Egyptian. Judah Ben-Heston won his Oscar on April 4 1960.
  9. Anthony Perkins, Green Mansions,1958.      A stop-go project since 1933 at RKO, with every beauty from Mexican Dolores Del Rio to the Peruvian five-octave singer Yma Sumac, by way of Pier Angel and, finally, Audrey Hepburn, for Rima, the jungle sprite. When the pot was stirred anew by actor-director Mel Ferrer and his wife, Audrey Hepburn, MGM wanted Hudson as the Abel in her thrall.  Perkins almost looked more of a sprite than Audrey did. Indeed some wags suggested it would have been better if Hudson and Perkins had played the leads! 
  10. Montgomery Clift, Suddenly, Last Summer, 1959.       Producer  Sam Spiegel never really wanted to see Clift  again.  “I don’t want to be near him.” Not after the Denny’s Hideaway steak house incident during the River Kwai casting, when  Monty actor  mixed pills and creme de menthe, spoke in  non-sequiturs (“the sky is blue”) and fell, not into his cups, but into Betty Spiegel’s lap.  “He could not move. It was as if he was numb - Sam preferred his River Kwai star, but couldn’t ”Spiegel” (ie  cajole, manipulate or con)  Holden into agreeing.  Nor Hudson.

  11. Glenn Ford, Cimarron,1960.   MGM wanted a titular Hudson for the second film of Edna Ferber’s typicably epic npvel. Universal did not agree. Ferber hated the movie.  “I shan’t go into the anachronisms in dialogue; the selection of a foreign-born actress [Maria Schell] to play an American-born bride; the repetition; the bewildering lack of sequence.... This old grey head turned almost black during those two (or was it three?) hours.”
  12. Yves Montand, Let's Make Love, 1960.    Among the legions  rejecting Marilyn Monroe because she was past it - and she was trouble. never on time.  Plus: she stole movies  Hudson, Stephen Boyd, Yul Brynner, Charlton Heston, William Holden and old-timers Cary Cooper, Cary Grant, James Stewart all fled  what was then  called (in their favour)  The Billionaire.   Marilyn and Montand took the new title too literally.
  13. Gregory Peck, The Guns of Navarone, 1960.     During the casting waltz,  Captain Keith  Mallory was shuffled around Hudson, Peck and even Cary Grant. The script was re-spun so often that Peck finally threw in his own version: “David Niven really loves Anthony Quayle and Peck loves Anthony Quinn, Quayle is hospitalised  with a broken leg, Quinn falls in love with Irene Papas and Niven and Peck with each other and live happily ever after…”  “He was an odd case,” said Hudson’s often co-star Tony Randall. “He learned to act after he was a star.”
  14. Dirk Bogarde, The Angel Wore Red, 1961.    Bogarde  jumped at Monty Clift’s cast-off. Paying no heed to refusals by (count em!) Rock, Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, Dean Martin, Paul Newman!
  15. Cary Grant, That Touch of Mink, 1961.   As king of the Universal lt, Hudson had every right to think he’d be joining his usual co-star, Doris Day, in yet more of their Universal froth. He was the right age after all - 36. While Doris and Cary, written as early 20s/30s, were ancient at 38/58. And it showed. Which could be the reason Cary hated the movie.
  16. Gregory Peck, To Kill  A Mockingbird, 1962.     Hudson was ahead of Peck (and James Stewart) in  the queue to be Atticus Finch... now revered as Peck’s greatest hour - earning Peck’s Oscar and his funeral eugoly from co-star Brock Peters.
  17. Cary Grant, That Touch of Mink, 1962.     Instead of a third comedy together, Doris Day preferred the King of Hollywood to the Young Pretender. (At 55, Cary had knocked Hudson off top spot, to fourth, in Box Office magazine’s stars of 1958).  of the year).  Result:  Mink became Grant’s second most successful movie after Operation Petticoat , with North By North West third.  His cut: $4m. By now, he was the only movie star in history to have his films earning more than $11m in one theatre, New York’s  Radio City Music Hall.
  18. Sean Connery, Marnie, 1963.     After Marlon Brando and Paul Newman passed, Hudson had a meet with Alfred Hitchcock about playing Mark Rutland.   Then, Cubby Broccoli called Hitch about his new 007  find… and,  although, he didn’t match the  “American aristocrat hero” at all, the role was Sean’s.
  19. George Peppard, The Carpetbaggers, 1963.   Singer  Eddie Fisher was first to buy rights to Harold Robbins’ trashy view of Hollywood.  He planned to re-unite the Giant stars - his wife, Liz Taylor, and Rock Hudson - as the thinly veiled Jean Harlow and Howard Hughes.  Two powerful forces blocked his ambition. 1. Cleopatra. 2. Marc Antony, aka Richard Burton.
  20. Marlon  Brando, Bedtime Story, 1964.      Original casting idea: Cary Grant-Rock Hudson (!) became David Niven-Brando.  Just as the 1988 remake,  Dirty  Rotten  Scoundrels,  all  tuned up for David Bowie-Mick Jagger, became Michael Caine-Steve Martin.

  21. Richard Burton, The Sandpiper,  1964.   We’re at the start of the  “Burtons, gotta be the Burtons” decade…  So any notion of re-uniting From Here To Eternity’s Deborah Kerr-Burt Lancaster, much less the  fresher union of Kim Novak-Rock Hudson were shoved aside. Hey, this was a story of illicit love, so… “Gotta be the Burtons.”  In the third of eleven films together. Despite  their mystifying lack of on-screen chemistry. Reason  Liz looked so hot in the long-shot Big Sur beach scenes was because her body double was the unknown…  Raquel Welch.
  22. Rex Harrison,  My Fair Lady, 1964.    Head Brother Jack Warner was not keen on the Broadway and West End Henry Higgins.  He had several other Professors in mind. From the inspired (NoëlCoward, Cary Grant, 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!) 
  23. Richard  Harris,  Hawaii,  1966.     Gentleman director Fred  Zinnemann  started the project with Rock opposite Audrey Hepburn. Harris Harris - who producer Walter Mirisch had been trying to obtain  for a film since The Great Escape, 1963 -  won Julie Andrews, helmer George Roy Hill and 228 loops - “you can change your whole performance in looping.” Just not improve it.
  24. Richard Harris, Camelot, 1966.   And another musical for the non-singer… Marlon Brando, Rock Hudson (with Shirley Jones as his queen), Peter O’Toole and Gregory Peck were run up the Warner Bros flagpole when Richard Burton wanted  too much money to reprise his Broadway and Tony-winning King Arthur. Burton wore the crown again in a 1980 tour until his health made him quit.  And Harris succeeded him again. He then paid $1m for the stage rights, revamped and extended the tour, making a considerable fortune.
  25. Lex Barker, Woman  Times Seven, 1967.     Seven face(t)s of  Shirley MacLaine.   Each one with a different guy: Alan Arkin, Michael Caine, Vittorio Gassman, Peter Sellers, Philippe Noiret...even  a Brando cameo, sans credit.
  26. Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes, 1967.
  27. Charles Bronson, C'era una volta il West (UK/US: Once Upon A Time in the West), Italy-USA, 1968.    The Paramount suits reported: “Rock wants to be Harmonica.”   No, thundered  maestro Segio Leopne. “It’s Bronson or no one. A force of marble!”
  28. Steve McQueen, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968.     Canadian director Norman Jewison’s first reserve if Sean Connery proved unavailable was sideswiped by McQueen agreeing to wear a suit for once.  A far more  triumphant  change of McQueen image than  his foolish ego trip, An Enemy of the People, 1978.
  29. Tony Curtis, The Persuaders, TV, 1971-1972.    With the Bond producers showing interest, Roger Moore wasn’t keen on another TV series after The Saint, until the size of producer Lew Grade’s cheque grew bigger than his cigas. Grade offered a choice of three US co-stars. Moore said Glenn Ford was a selfish actor, Hudson was almost a Moore clone, “both six-foot-something, even-featured leading men”  - but  Tony Curtis “would be  brilliiant.”  Tony's version was that Grade enticed Moore aboard by saying: “We’ll get Tony for the other rôle.“ Either way the result was the same. Only 20 of the 24 shows were aired in the US. 
  30. John Wayne, Rooster Cogburn, 1974.     The idea was fair - a sequel  to True Grit. But if Wayne proved too ill, what would be the point of someone else in his titular Oscar-winning rôle? Marlon Brando topped producer Hal Wallis’ eye-patch list of Charles Bronson, Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Burt Lancaster, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and some of l Duke’s co-stars: Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn. This was director Stuart Miller’s second feature. The “6ft 6ins somafabitch no-talent, ” as Duke termed him, never made a third.
  31. Leonard Harris, Taxi Driver, 1976.     
  32. John Wheeler, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1977.   If Doris Day had accepted Mrs Fields, her Mister would have been Hudson, just like the old days at Universal. With The Bee Gees substituting The Beatles, the musical was over before it began. The mindless morass of most Pepper and Abbey Road songs formed, said Newsweek’s David Ansen, “a dangerous resemblance to wallpaper.”

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