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James Donald (1917-1993)

  1. Cyril Cusack, Gone To Earth, 1950.    UK director Michael Powell shared certain points with Donald - “lean, intelligence, knobbly, a vein of humour, a gift for making enemies”   - but left   decisions   to the Selznicks. David had set up the film for the love of his life, Jennifer Jones. They preferred playing safe with Powell’s Irish workhorse.                                                                  
  2. Victor Mature, Androcles and Lion, 1951.     During three years of bizarre casting of the George Bernard Shaw playlet - everyone from the sublime Chaplin (and Harpo Marx) to the ridiculous Eddie Bracken. Donald and Jean Simmons (in their Hollywood debut) actually began shooting on February 9. A few days later, everything stopped. For seven months! (Donald is best remembered as the UK army officer Major Clipton bemoaning “Madness! Madness!” at the climax of The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1956
  3. John Mills, Hobson's Choice, 1954.     The role was Willie Mossop and it was Robert Donat’s until the insurance companies banned the asthmatic actor. Donald   refused to test - and went off into David Lean country as the medic   summing up the horrors of war in the final words of The Bridge On The River Kwai:   “Madness!   Madness!”


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