Payday Loans
Kirk Douglas (1916-2020)


  1. Van Heflin, The Strange Love of MarthaIvers, 1945.         Lauren Bacall recommended him for his debut. He tested for the secondary part of Barbara Stanwyck's lush of a husband. He beat four others (Montgomery Clift, Richard Widmark, included) and was picked up by Van Heflin in a limo on the first day of shooting."Wow! They must reallythink I'm something."No, there wasa strike picket line at the studio, only way inwas inlimo guarded by studio police.
  2. Robert Mitchum, Pursued, 1947.        A Tale of Two Clefts.. Warner’s chief, Jack Warner, rejected Douglas because of the cleft in his chin! Presumably, Warner approved Mitchum because of the cleft in his chin. The two later co-clefted in Out of the Past but were never close. Due to his endless anecdotes, Kirk saw Bob asa bullshit artist. And for Bob, Kirk was the epitome of movie star arrogance and pomposity.
  3. William Holden, Rachel and the Stranger, 1947.       He’s the third guy in Loretta Young’s life as Rachel - bought for “$18 and owing $4”- as a bondservant for Holden and son. Then, Robert Mitchum’s stranger drops by… causing a rapid RKO release to cash in on the publicity of his marijuana jail sentence.
  4. Gregory Peck, The Great Sinner, 1948.         Oh dear… "The story is inspired by the work of a great writer, a gambler himself, who played for his life and won immortality."  And that is the sole demi-credit for  the adapted novella The Gambler by the un-named Dostoevsky. Douglas passed and took $15,000 ("deferred, yet!") for the lowly Champion, with an unknown team. Producer Stanley Kramer is nobody, Kirk  was told, he used to be a studio errand boy. "So what," said Kirk, "I used to be a waiter."  Douglas won an Oscar nomination. Sinner was such a flop that German director  Robert Siodmak refused to admit that he had actually made  it.
  5. Dan Duryea, Too Late For Tears, 1948.        Producer Hal Wallis refused to loan Douglas as the heavy - slapping the bejabbers out of Lizabeth Scott. Even on the poster! 
  6. Robert Ryan, Caught, 1948.         The Los Angeles Times reported in June that Douglas was a "likely" candidate for  Smith Ohlrig.   Wrong… Ohlrig went to Robert Ryan. His e sadistic tycoon character was based on the tales German director Max Ophüls told writer Arthur Laurents about Howard Hughes, when they made a disaster called Vendetta, That began in 1946 but was only released (escaped, more like) in 1950, after non-stop inteference from the billionaire producer, using up five directors (Ophüls, Preston Sturges, even actor Mel Ferrer, etc) and an unheard of $4m. Hughes OKed Ryan (as, basically, Hughes) and watched his rushes with relish.
  7. James Mason, Caught, 1948.           Douglas was, in fact, announced to play Larry Quinada, before it became Mason’s Hollywood debut as the husband that Barbara Bel Geddes knew so little about…

  8.  Victor Mature, Samson and Delilah, 1948.|
    Cinemperor Cecil B DeMIlle first planned  the epic in 1935 for Henry Wilcoxon (his ever loyal lieutenant. actor, associate producer, over the years) and Miriam Hopkins... Next in line, producer Davidf O Selznick envisaged Dietrich and Kirk Douglas in the earlier 40s.   Then,  CB got serious… So did James Mason - suggesting $250,000. (DeMille showed him  door). CB toyed with Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and ruled out Burt Lancaster, too inexperienced, a bad back - to say nothing of his bad politics. Plus, the rising young evangelist Dr Billy Graham, who preferred his own calling to preach, not act, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then, paradoxically, CBwas telling  one guy, the 22-year-old Steve Reeves, to tone down his muscularity – while packing another off to the gym to beef his up!  This was the  seriously overweight Matture.  None of these guys would have suffered the wrath of DeMille the way Mature did… He had phobias about almost everything:  dwarf folk, water, lions, swords - and a wind machine sent him fleeing to his dressing room in terror. On his return, DeMille let him have it with both megaphone barrels. “I have met a few men in my time. Some of them have been afraid of heights… water…fire…of closed spaces…  open spaces… of themselves.  But in all my 35 years of picture-making experience, Mr Mature, I have not until now met a man who was 100% yellow.”

  9. James Mason, The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel, 1951.        “The title role will be offered to Kirk Douglas,” reported The The New York Times, February 15, 1950. Mason made it his own - and reprised the WWI German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in a second Fox film, The Desert Rats, 1953. The first film has the worst screen Hitler -Luther Adler was so Jewish, he almost said already...
  10. Charlton Heston, The Greatest Show on Earth, 1951.  Three years after  the Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick threw in the towel, CB DeMille began his old dream of a circus thriller (inspiring a six-year-old Phoenix kid named Spielberg to make movies).  CBwanted Douglas  but, ever the skinflint, he  would  pay his $15,000 fee. to be his trail boss  - er, circus manager…. or…

  11. Gary Cooper, High Noon, 1951.    Sidney Lumet called it ”a romantic version of real life.”  Scenarist Carl Forman created Marshal Will Kane for Fonda - passed over by the suits  on being grey-listed for his politics. “Not for me,” said Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Charlton Heston, John Wayne…  Gregory Peck found it  too similar to his previous Gunfighter(!).  And Kirk came thisclose to raising Kane  with Lola Albright as the missus. Cooper was keener.  He even cut his fee to wear the tin star - and win the Oscar on March 19, 1953. And a life-long friendship with the ex-blacklisted Forman, who fled to London and…  The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Key, The Guns of Navarone, The Victors, Mackenna’s Gold, Young Winston.
  12. Cornel Wilde, The Greatest Show on Earth, 1951.    …the trapeze star. CB had already rejected  Kirk’s great rival, Burt Lancaster. They both made their own big top numbers: Douglas in The Story of Three Loves, 1952, and Lancaster flying high on  his Trapeze, 1955.
  13. Fred MacMurray, The Moonlighter, 1952.        One reunion for another… When Warners could not obtain the Ruby Gentry star and  her director, King Vidor, it settled for Double Indemnity’s  Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.   Douglas and Alan Ladd had been in the frame. Cowboys stars Gene Autry and Roy Corrigan did much better - their ranches in Placerita Canyon and Simi Valley were chosen as  locations.
  14. William Holden, Stalag 17, 1953.       "I'd seen the play... lots of weaknesses.  I didn't realise what Billy Wilder would do with the movie. Bill Holden won an Oscar. I was dumb." Particularly as he has just  finished Ace in the Hole with the maestro. Holden’s Oscar speech was the shortest in Academy history: "Thank you."
  15. Michael Wilding, The Egyptian, 1953.       Douglas didn’t do supporting roles… ! While shopping at the MGM Store after Marlon Brando split for his New York shrink’s couch,  head Fox Darryl Zanuck borrowed a listless Edmund Purdom for the court physician Sinuhe - and picked up Wilding in the same bargain basement for Egypt’s pharaoh Akhnaton. MGM must have been  surprised that anyone would be interested in either contract player. 
  16. Clark Gable, Betrayed, 1953.      On the wish-list (with Gregory Peck) for Dutch Intelligence officer Colonel Pieter Deventer. But so was Gable. And this became his final MGMovie.   He’d made a helluva lot of money for Metro since he started there as a Merry Widow extra in 1930. Now he’d freelance for his final six years. For a heftier slice of the action.
  17. Marlon Brando, Guys and Dolls, 1955.       Producer Samuel Goldwyn was like Robert Redford at the end of The Candidate. He’d won... but what now?He offeredSky Masterson to every guy he knew: Kirk, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Gene Kelly, Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum!!ThenCary called his one-time lover Marlon: “ I heard you don’t like Sinatra. Take the role just to piss him off.”“It’s a deal!”Although "heavy-footed with high comedy," Brando insisted on $200,000 for 14 weeks. Sam Goldwyn also gave him a Ford Thunderbird. And the poster line: : Brando Sings!
  18. John Wayne, Blood Alley, 1955.        Robert Mitchum was fired by William Wellman, director of his first big hit, The Story of GI Joe, 1945. “He’s my favourite actor,” said Wild Bill. “He was on dope, always walking about six inches off the ground. He punched... one of the drivers, knocked him into the bay, goddam nearly killed him.” Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Gregory Peck were unavailable, Douglas was working. Burt Lancaster was “no dice” and Fred MacMurray “not big enough.” And so producer John Wayne sang the old song. “Aw, shucks, suppose I’ll have to do it.” Mitchum said only Louella Parsons told the true story. “And they killed her column. The transportation boss weighed 300 lbs. I was supposed to have picked him up and thrown him in the bay. No way.” The truth? “I think Duke Wayne was renegotiating his Warners contract... They agreed, provided he did one more film on his old contract. ‘Wal, we got that picture up at San Raphael.’ Duke [on his honeymoon] said: ‘No, Mitchum’s doing that.’ ‘Was!’ That was the end of that.”
  19. Humphrey Bogart, The Left Hand of God, 1955.      At his dying RKO, Howard Hughes wanted Howard Hawks to direct the war movie with Douglas and a $1.5m budget.   The paltry sumwas no problem but Hawks never wanted to work with Douglas again after The Big Sky, 1951. Didn’t help that he stole Hawks’ lover (and the film’s leading lady), Elizabeth Threatt, throughout the Wyoming location. (Edward Dmytryk directed Bogart).
  20. Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955. 

  21. Robert Mitchum, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, 1956.   One of Robert Mitchum’s greatest roles… Basically a two-hander, based on Charles Shaw's novel. About a US marine and an Irish nun stranded on a Pacific atoll during WWII.  Deborah Kerr was, apparently, always set as Sister Angela. But Corporal Allison - Mister to her – changed from John Wayne to Kirk Douglas to Clark Gable to  an outstanding Mitchum. Directors also switched from William Wyler and   Anthony Mann to a John Huston on good rather than great form.  Bob and Deb made up for his shortcomings. Thirteen years later they were sought for something of a re-make: the Western Two Mules for Sister Sara. Only this time the nun was a hooker in an old habit. And habits. Eventually played by Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine.  Bob and Kerr, friends for life after he caught her swearing at Huston, made three more films together. 

  22. Tyrone Power, Witness For The Prosecution, 1956.     Billy Wilder eventually agreed that his Ace in the Hole was “too hard boiled.” Besides, as Marlene Dietrich had a dual role, Kirk  would have wanted to  play the entire jury. Also in the mix: Glenn Ford, William Holden, Gene Kelly, Jack Lemmon, even Roger Moore… This was Ty Power’s final movie, he died on his next project, Solomon and Sheba, in 1958. (Douglas said of Marlene, an ex-lover: “If we had to invent the ideal woman... we would have to invent Marlene Dietrich.”)

  23. Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones, 1957.    About the two escaped chained convicts,  Billy Wilder said:  "Brando wanted to play the black convict, Mitchum would refuse to be in any film 'with a nigger' and Kirk Douglas wanted both roles…"  Disappointed with The Wild One, Brando never worked for Stanley Kramer again. Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn  and Frank Sinatra all refused to co-star with Sidney Poitier.  So much for liberal Hollywood…
  24. Frank Sinatra, Pal Joey, 1957.      For an earlier project, it was going to be Pal Kirk with, maybe, Barbara Stanwyck as his sugar mommy.    Kirk singing The Lady Is A Tramp?  I don’t think so..! But that was an early plan - with, maybe, Barbara Stanwyck as his sugar mommy.  Joey was later changed from a dancer (Gene Kelly) to a singer (Frank Sinatra), so what would Douglaas have  been? A  bastard, said his foes.

  25. John Wayne,  Rio Bravo, 1958,
  26. Dean Martin,  Rio Bravo, 1958.

  27. Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1958.  Sword and sandal epics were in.  And producer Sam Zimbalist, who’d made one of the biggest – Quo Vadis, 1950 -  was back in Rome, re-making the 1923 silent Ben-Hur.  (Sergio Leone claimed he directed the stunning chariot race. He did not). Losing Messala were Kirk Douglas (now you know why he became  Spartacus), Charlton Heston (who became Judah Ben-Hur). Plus New Yorker Ray Danton, British Stewart Granger (from Quo Vadis), Welsh Ronald Lewis, Canadian  Leslie Nielsen, way too  old Robert Ryan (when way too old Burt Lancaster was to be Judah Ben-Hur) and Scottish. Bill Travers. Were they bright enough to comprehend what Heston never twigged - that “contributing writer” Gore Vidal implied Judah and Messala had been lovers.  Judah Ben-Heston  won his Oscar on April 4 1960.
  28. Jack Hawkins, The Two-Headed Spy,  1958.      Douglas bought General AP Scotland’s autobiography, The London Cage, to play the (typically Hollywood exaggerated) tale of the UK undercover agent rising to the rank of General in Nazi Germany.  John Ford agreed to direct in Germany but the 1952 plan ran out of steam. Andre de Toth made it with Hawkins. 
  29. Anthony Franciosa, La maja desnuda/The Naked Maja, Italy, 1958.        Two years earlier, Kirk  has been Van Gogh, so he was obviously top choice for Goya - the very reason he passed.
  30. Yul Brynner, The Sound And The Fury, 1958.     Brynner wore a wig. Didn’t help. The title came from Shakespeare’s er, Scottish play. And in full, that goes the same way as the film: “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  31. Dirk Bogarde, The Angel Wore Red, 1961.      One of Nunnally Johnson’s few zeros. Everyone seemed to know it would be - Montgomery Clift, Glenn Ford, Rock Hudson, Dean Martin, Paul Newman.   Everyone except poor Bogarde!
  32. Arthur Kennedy, Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.
  33. Anthony Quinn, Barabba (Barabbas), Italy, 1961.     Among US director Richard Fleischer’s early ideas for the Dino De Laurentiis production.
  34. Glenn Ford, Pocketful of Miracles, 1961.        Directing legend Frank Capra never knew this would be his final film. All he needed was a star that UA considered bankable.  He tried for Kirk, Jackie Gleason, Steve McQueen, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra… and settled for Ford, biggest mistake of his 67 years. Indeed, a terminal error, Capra never made another movie after what he said was “shaped in the fires of discord and filmed in an atmosphere of pain, strain and loathing.”
  35.  Richard Burton, Cleopatra, 1962.
  36. Steve McQueen, The Great Escape, 1962.      Richard Harris quit when the emphasis switched from British Commonwealth POWs to Burt Lancaster and Douglas, who finally became James Garner and Steve McQueen - when US prisoners were moved from Stalag Luft III seven months before the mass break- out on March 24, 1944. McQueen and Garner were already optioned to producer Walter Mirisch for $50,000 a piece while and Kirk cost more than $1m.
  37. Robert Stack, The Caretakers, 1962.  Producer Hall Bartlett tried to win Kirk and Lana Turner - twogether  again! – for Dr MacLeod and Nurse Terry.  But made do with Robert Stack, Joan Crawford, and a special screening of the mental health care drama  at the US Senate.
  38. Alec Guinness, The Fall of the Roman Empire, 1963.  Kirk wanted to work with Sophia Loren - but obviously not as her father!  Ah, vanity… Guinness cherished the  movie, the role of wise emperor Marcus Aurelius, his co-stars - and above all, Loren. She even taught him how to Twist again, like they did last summer…  Producer Samuel Bronston offered Kirk  $1.5m   ("nobody had been offered that much"). For that price, he'd rather be Cortez conquering the Aztec empire in Montezuma. "They didn't want to do it.  I couldn't understand it. I had a much better script."
  39. Paul Newman, What A Way To Go! 1964.  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 Louisa was 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.
  40. Omar Sharif, Doctor Zhivago, 1964.  Kirk Douglas chased after the Russian novel winning  the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature. However, Rome producer Carlo Ponti secured the rights to Boris Pasternak’s book, based not only on Russia’s revolution and Stalin’s Great Purge of freedom,  but the married writer’s long affair with the poet Olga Ivinskaya.  Ponti signed David Lean to direct Mrs P, Sophia Loren as Olga. Or Lara by now.  “Too tall,” snapped Lean. They then started hunting their Yuri Zhivago through…  top Brits Dirk Bogarde, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole (Lean’s  Lawrence of Arabia, 1961);  two Americans, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman; and a single Swede, Max von Sydow.  Caine said he suggested Lean should use his  Lawrence find, Egyptian Omar Sharif.
  41. Burt Lancaster, Seven Days In May, 1964.    The way director John Frankenheimer saw it, Paul Newman would prevent Kirk’s military coup. No, said Kirk, I’mthe hero and Burt Lancaster is the villain general. No, said Frankenheimer, two films with Lancaster was enough... After much persuasion, he found they (finally) “got along magnificently and became good friends.”

  42. Lee Marvin,   Cat   Ballou, 1965.    
     "My agent   badgered and badgered   me   out of   it!   A   perfect part for me. A  star - a so-called star - should've played it.   You have the image going for you.   You're   wearing this black  suit,   then you struggle, you're over the hill - but the audience has in their minds the image of the perfect gunfighter... Lee Marvin won an Oscar.  I'm not so smart!"     Lee was the seventh guy after six turned it down: Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, a whole list, reported Dan Gurler from the office of Marvin’s agent Meyer Mishkin. (Mishkin had also discovered Douglas). He worked it for $30,000, something like that.Director Elliot Silverstein was concerned that Kirk Douglas, as a major star, would not feel comfortable doing some of the crazy things   I was going to ask the actor playing Kid Sheleen to do. Watching Marvin falling off his motor-cycle in The Wild One once upon a Late Show settled it. He called his producer Harold Hecht: I’d like you to try and get Lee. You got to try to persuade him.” He did and Marvin won the support Oscar on April 18, 1966. Earlier he had told co-star Jane Fonda: “The only reason we’e in the movie is that we’re under contract and they can get us cheap.”

  43. James Mason, Lord Jim, 1965.      Both arch rivals - Kirk and Burt Lancaster - wrote to auteur Richard Brooks about playing Gentleman Brown. Neither one fitted Brooks’ vision.
  44. John Wayne, The Sons of Katie Elder, 1965.    Ten years earlier,  producer Hal Wall  wanted John Sturgis directing Kirk’s nemesis, Burt Lancaster… Now everyone from Charlton Heston and William Holden  to Robert Mitchum James Stewart were up for John Elder…  until Duke galloped in for $600,000, a third of the profits and andone-third ownership of the negative. With a month to go  to the starting date, Duke told his producer son, Mike, and director Henry Hathway about the  golf-ball-sized tumour in his  left lung. “I’m gonna have the lung removed… tomorrow morning.  Of course you’ll wanna recast - I suggest Kirk Douglas.” Hathaway had survived colon cancer and gave advice. “You’re gonna be as sore as hell - surgery is no piece of cake, expect to be tired and expect the recovery to take longer than you think.” Wayne was operated on September 17, 1964 on for six hours - and a second time, after edema set in.  Producer Hal Wallis refused to recast. They would wait.  Duke showed up for work on January  6, 1965, for what proved a slow-moving Western. What else when the star needed an oxygen tank… and his stunt-double Chuck Roberson doing his horse-riding in long shots.
  45. Stuart Whitman, The Sands of the Kalahari, 1965.      Connected with the Stanley Baker production opposite Carroll Baker in 1964.

  46. Oskar Werner, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.    
    Producer Lewis Allen took over the project of French realisateur François Truffaut and ran through the Hollywood A List for the top role of fireman Montag. Truffaut had his Euro List and preferred Paul Newman. "He's tres beau particularly when shot in colour and I prefer him to all the box-office stars: Hudson, Peck, Heston, Brando, Lancaster..." (Kirk lost another Ray Bradbury story in 1983). When feeling Ray Bradbury’s story was too important to be shot in English(!), the réalisateur tried his past and future stars, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo - and Oskar Werner as Montag’s boss. Allen quickly suggested Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift or Sterling Hayden. Producer Sam Spiegel tried muscling in by promising Richard Burton… bossing Redford and loving Elizabeth Taylor!  Getting desperate, Truffaut made the mistake of his life  by giving the fireman to Werner (originally booked for the fire chief). Any of the others asleep would have been better! The Austrian’s head had been turned by Hollywood since his (and Truffaut’s) Jules et Jim triumph. Werner argued constantly over (his dull) interpretation, refused one “dangerous” scene  (as if a fireman would not have to deal with fire) and  even cut his  hair to ruin continuity. If not for the six years of planning, Truffaut would have walked.  Instead, he simply truncated Werner’s later scenes - and used a double, John Ketteringham, in most of them!  (Douglas would lose 
     another Ray Bradbury story in 1983).

  47. Rock Hudson, Seconds, 1966.       Douglas held the rights to David Ely's novel about a corporation giving second chances to jaded, middle-  aged businessmen - a new face, a new life. (Science fiction then, now  run of the mill in witness protection programmes). Directing wizard John Frankenheimer felt one man only could play both parts.  He took the script to London and Olivier agreed  Paramount did not.  To  Frankenheimer’s horror, the suits insisted on... a bigger name  
  48. John Randolph, Seconds, 1966.        Hudson tested in both roles, but could manage only to be the new face of John Randolph's old face, while Kirk was in Norway shooting The Heroes of Telemark with his young son, Michael, as an on-set "gofer."  And I have to confess, I never even noticed him, during my visit to the Norway locations.   Doh!

  49. Jason Robards, Hour of the Gun, 1966.      The Western began where director John Sturges had left it a decade earlier in Gunfight At The OK Corral. So obviously it was a good plan to try and get Burt and Kirk back together again. No way!
  50. Yul Brynner, Bitka na Neretvi (US: The Battle of Neretva), Yugoslavia-Italy-West Germany, US, 1967.  For his country’s most expensive  movie  of his  three month 1943 battle(shot over 16 months!)  to drive the Nazis out of his country, the Yugoslav president Tito wanted Kirk as the demolition expert Vlado. Or any role he desired!   Except he was all booked up. The film was never released in the UK.
  51. William Daniels, The Graduate,1968.
  52. Jason Robards, C'era una volta il West (UK/US: Once Upon A Time in the West), Italy-US, 1968.       Douglas was a fan of the first Dollars and forever tried to get Sergio Leone to helm one of his productions. No? OK. I wanna play Cheyenne.”Leone simply refused: that’s for Robards.“And Kirk made a gesture signalling his admiration for Jason.” Leone was worried whenRobards turnedup dead drunk for their initial meet. His agent begged a second chance. “OK, but if’s he pissed again, he’s gone!” Robards promised to do his drinking at night and was never incapacitated on-set.
  53. Rod Steiger, The Ilustrated Man, 1968.       In his prime, Douglas bought the movie rights to this Ray Bradbury tale (or, indeed, tales), plus his Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Martian Chronicles. And. Never. Made. Any. Of. Them. Go figure!
  54. Orson Welles, Catch 22, 1969. .Before Mike Nichols  got his hands on the Joseph Heller book, his Graduatescenarist Buck Henry had head “it had been owned and fiddled with by the Kirk Diougla family and we were appalled at the idea of anyone trying to make it except us because we really thought we knew it in a way that nobody else would be able to… So we pushed ahead a little faster  and got there a little quicker.”  Presumably Kirk saw himself as General Dreedle - with Michael as Yossarin or Milo Minderbinder.
  55. Anthony Quinn, Across 110th Street, 1971.        His famous friends were all doing it, so why not him? So, Quinn was going to sit this one out. And simply produce the blacks v Mafia thriller, bloody enough for Scorsese or Tarantino. Harlem, however, disliked his ideas - Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis Jr, Sidney Poitier, even Douglas, Burt Lancaster or John Wayne as the top cop.   Too Hollywood! Not street enough! Quinn switched invites to Paul Benjamin, Antonio Fargas, Yaphet Kotto and took over Captain Mattelli, himself. So much for relaxing…
  56. 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 Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and some of Duke’s old co-stars: Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck. Plus four of co-star Katharine Hepburn’s previous partners  - Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn - and as she continued trying to pick guys she’d never  worked with before… Warren Beatty, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Paul Scofield, Henry Winkler (!)… (McQueen turned down her Grace Quigleyin 1983).   Kate wrote that embracing Duke “was like leaning against a great tree."
  57. Peter O'Toole, Man of La Mancha, 1974.     Kirk offered to pay $1m towards the rights with Paramount chief Charles Bludhorn. Hissafest investment, Douglas felt."After all, he owned the studio.We went to see the play.Charlie decided not to do it. Endof that project."
  58. Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974. 
  59. Michael Caine,The Man Who Would Be King1975.
  60. Klaus Kinski, Le chanson de Roland, France, 1978.        Set for the 1968 version of the veteran French realisateur Jean Delannoy.  

  61. Donald Pleasence, Halloween, 1978.
    Hitchcock fan auteur John Carpenter searched high and low for his shrink, Dr Sam Loomis. Peter O’Toole and the Hammer horrors, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee versus Charles Napier, Lawrence Tierney, Abe Vigoda. The $300,00 shoestring budget couldn’t afford any of them! Same for Lloyd Bridges, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Steven Hill, Walter Matthau… even such off-the-wallers as John Belushi, Mel Brooks, Yul Brynner, Edward Bunker, Sterling Hayden, Dennis Hopper, Kris Kristofferson… and Dick’s brother, Jerry Van Dyke. Pleasence said he only made the film because his daughter told him to! She’d loved Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13He also told Carpenter he’d never read the script, nor Loomis. “Only later,” said Carpenter, “after [we] became close friends, did I realise he was finding out how much I loved the movie I was making.” Incidentally, Loomis was named after John Gavin’s Psycho character; his screen lover was Janet Leigh, mother of Carpenter’s heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. So it flows.

  62. Rex Harrison, Ashanti, 1978.       Michael Caine confessed he made the modern slavery drama for the money. Nothing wrong with that; an actor never knows when (or if) any next job is coming from. However, Douglas, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Telly Savalas refused Swiss producer Georges-Alain Vuille’s funds - to their credit.Rex Harrison, Ashanti, 1978.   Michael Caine confessed he made the modern slavery drama for the money. Nothing wrong with that; an actor never knows when (or if) any next job is coming from. However, Douglas, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Telly Savalas refused Swiss producer Georges-Alain Vuille’s funds - to their credit.
  63. Richard Crenna, First Blood (aka Rambo), 1982.
  64. Jason Robards, Something Wicked This Way Comes, 1983.      Another Ray Bradbury story this way went! Before his son, Peter, produced it at Disney, he arranged for Kirk to star and produce."I kept waiting - a year - but Spielberg would never give me a start date." Nor did his otherdirector choice: David Lean.
  65. Richard Harris, Wrestling  Ernest Hemingway, 1994.  Both veterans tested...
  66. Armin Mueller-Stahl, Music Box, 1989.  A lawyer daughter defends her  lovely Hungarian immigrant father charged with… Nazi war crimes. Marlon Brando, Kirk Douglas and Walter Matthau were in the frame for him. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers called it a potboiler, made to win Jessica Lange a second Oscar.  “There’s an actress here, but no role.” And we’d seen the Joe Eszterhas script before. Twice. Only then it was called Betrayed and Jagged Edge.
  67. Tom Berenger, At Play  in  the Fields of the  Lord, 1991. MGM snapped up Peter Matthiessen’s novel for Brando. John Huston and Milos Forman wanted to direct; David Lean and Arthur Penn did not. Paul Newman was keen on subbing  Brando as the sky jockey  hero, Lewis Moon, helped by his writer pal Stewart Stern and  director Richard Brooks.  Next, old schoolers Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and newer guys Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, Patrick Swayze tried to Moon it. Hector Babenco preferred Berenger for what Washington Post critic Desson Howe called artistic zilch: “three  hours of lush jungle cinematography, picturesque natives and crackpot missionaries losing their minds.”
  68. David Kelly, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.         Tim Burton looked at a dozen possible Grandpa Joes. Kirk’s Spartacus co-star, Peter Ustinov, died before replying to Tim’s offer. So did Gregory Peck. Also considered: Douglas, Richard Attenborough, Michael Caine, George Carlin (yes, not Carlin), Kirk Douglas, Albert Finney, Richard Griffiths, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lloyd (favourite of author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy), Ron Moody, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Paul Newman, Peter O’Toole, Max von Sydow, Eli Wallach, David Warner.  Burton finally gave the role to Kelly (“in three minutes”) on running into him at Pinewood studios on another film.


“To the world he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to,” Douglas wrote on social media. “But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine [Zeta-Jones], a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband.” – Michael Douglas.

 “A pillar of Hollywood has fallen. Nobody danced on Viking oars like you! Safe travels, stud!" – Bruce Campbell.

“Not only was he a towering presence in film history. He also risked his career and financial stability to do the right thing to help break the Blacklist. That kind of heroism makes all of us stand up and shout, I AM SPARTACUS!”– Bryan Cranston

I love you Spartacus, like the father I never had.” – Antoninus.  I did have a father and he loved you as the world loved you. Your Passion.Talent. Politics. Family. Art. Strength.’ Jamie Lee Curtis.

"I have always judged people in life by this simple credo: If you’re in a room and they walk in, do they fill up the doorway? Kirk wasn’t Gary Cooper. He didn’t have the height. He wasn’t Robert Shaw or Robert Mitchum. He didn’t have that heft. But he could sure fill up a doorway." - Bruce Dern.

 “Kirk Douglas was probably the greatest star ever and a splendid on-screen character with a remarkable, blasting appeal. He will likewise be associated with risking his profession by opposing the Hollywood Blacklist, procuring author Dalton Trumbo for the great Spartacus. #RIP”.  Mark Hamill

"He was funny, self deprecating, giving & brutally honest. In a word... LEGEND,"  Hugh Jackman

 “Kirk held his celebrity charm right to the finish of his brilliant life and I’m respected to have been a little piece of his most recent 45 years. I will miss his manually written notes, letters, and protective exhortation, and his insight and mental fortitude – even past such a stunning group of work – are sufficient to move me for the remainder of mine,”  Steven Spielberg











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