Payday Loans
Stanley Baker (1927-1976)

  1. Robert Douglas, Helen of Troy, US-Italy, 1955.     Up for Agamemnon. But he was 19 years younger than the Hollywood veteran.
  2. Harry Andrews,  Helen of Troy, US-Italy, 1955.     Up for Hector.  Despite being 17 years younger than Andrews...
  3. Niall MacGinnis, Helen of Troy, US-Italy, 1955.    … or old Menelaus, although 15 years younger than MacGinnis.
  4. Jacques Sernas, Helen of Troy, US-Italy, 1955.    …or even for Paris,  Despite being three years younger than the  poor Lithuanian-born French star (a Buchenwald survivor) billed as Jack Sernas. He never touched the big time again, despite  more than 100 films - La Dolce Vita included.
  5. Ronald Lewis, Helen of Troy, US-Italy, 1955.     And I nearly forgot Aeneas - this once, the two choices were the same age. By now, you’re beginning to understand…? Warner Bros wanted Baker so much, the studio didn’t care who he played. As long as it wasn’t Helen.  (Film might have made more money if he had!).

  6. John Gregson, Miracle In  Soho, 1957.    And so, the majestic Archers - director Michael Powell and scenarist Emeric Pressburger - were split asunder by the  Rank Organisation. Presssburger re-worked one of his weaker fancies, The Miracle in St. Anthony’s Lane, with a mediocre cast. Powell had always wanted Baker, Pressburger preferred “dear, soft Gregson” to  head... a road-works gang!
  7. Richard Harris, This Sporting Life, 1962.    Rights to David Storey’s novel were first bought by Rank for Baker and the Brechtian director Joseph Losey.  No mater, they made four other (better) movies.
  8. Vincent Price, The Last Man on Earth, 1963.     Baker, Laurence Harvey, Paul Massie, Kieron Moore were the choices for Dr Robert Morgan in the previous decade when Hammer Films tried to produce the Richard Matheson book with director Fritz Lang. Matheson hated the result and Vinny. So did Charlton Heston when planning his take (The Omega Man, 1970), calling it incredibly botched, totally unfrightening, ill-acted, etc, etc.  Rather like the reviews of his version which had damn little to do with the novel.
  9. Guy Stockwell, The War Lord, 1965.     Good casting by one actor-producer  of   another. Universal refused Charlton Heston’s idea of the Welsh Baker, too busy imposing its own Baker - Diane - as the female lead.
  10. Robert Shaw, Battle of the Bulge, 1965.  Too busy producing his Sands of the Kalahari to be Colonel Hessler in in the only WWII film denounced by Ike - WWII Supreme Allied Commander and ex-POTUS Dwfght D Eisenhower - for wholesale inaccuracies. Baker had been tied to the Columbia version with Van Helfin as Ike, John Wayne for Patton, David Niven as Montgomery and Laurence Olivier as… Hitler. Shaw didn’t care. He earned his biggest pay-day: $350,000, around $3m in 2018 terms.

  11. Stephen Boyd, The Oscar, 1966.    Hollywood called after Zulu, and he answered - then changed his mind.    Dirk Bogarde lumped Baker  together with fellow Welshman Richard Burton: “both as tiresome as each other.”
  12.  David Niven, Casino Royale, 1966.
  13. Tom Bell, A Long Day's Dying, 1968.   Baker died before being formally knighted by Queen Elizabeth  II and,  therefore, cannot be called Sir Stanley.  However, the Queen  agreed that his wife, Ellen, could use  the title of Lady Baker.
  14. Malcolm McDowell,  Royal Flash, 1974.    After Baker failed to produce a screen version of the first Flashmanbook in the 60s, director Richard Lester tried to mount a version in 1970 with John Alderton -  cancelled days before shooting was to start, due to its hefty budget. Four years on, Lester tried again  with the  exact same result. Lester had better luck with the script of the second book, a Prisoner of Zenda parody. Fraser, who had worked with Lester on his Three/Four Musketeers, hated it and banned all other screen versions in his lifetime. Since his death in 2008, no one has planned any of the dozen. Proof positive that no one loves such a cowardly bully and cad as Captain Harry Flashman.
  15. Burt Lancaster, Zulu Dawn, US-SouthAfrica-Netherlands, 1978.   Having produced a  triumph  (and new superstar in Michael Caine) with Zulu about the 120 British soldiers holding off 4,000 Zulu warriors in the  siege of Rorke’s Drift, circa 1879,  Baker always intended to depict the Zulu nation beating the Brits during the following battle at Isandhlwana. After his death, his Colonel Durnfold role was taken over by another actor-producer.  


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