Payday Loans
Peter Falk (1927-2011)


  1. Martin Milner, Marjorie Morningstar, 1957.   He tested for Gene Kelly’s friend who was more successful inshowbiz than Gene Kelly.Legend has it that the one-eyed Falk failed a screen test at Columbia and studio boss Harry Cohn told him: “For the same price I can get an actor with two eyes.”   
  2. Allen Baron, Blast of Silence, 1960.    Given the choice of playing a hitman for free or a less interesting gig with a salary, Falk followed the money. And his Brooklyn pal, the debuting auteur said: “Hell with it, I’ll play Frank Bono myself.” Which he did most successfully, often resembling  Lino Ventura, just as the movie (reborn on DVD in 2008) resembled a French Nouvelle Vague thriller. With endless shots of Baron walking along  busy New York streets… and indeed, having a punch-up during a (real) hurricane. No wonder he was hailed as a new Orson Welles! But a Welles winding up directing 40 TV gigs from from Kolchak to Charlie’s Angel.
  3. Lee Marvin,  The Comancheros, 1961.    Peter was ouy and Lee qs in. And John Wayne enjoyed Marvin’s work as the loud-mouth gunfighter Tully Crow in June ’61 that he  reccomended him to John Ford for their following September  Western,  The Man Who Killed Liberty Valance.
  4. José Ferrer, Ship of Fools, 1964.   Not the comedy implied by the tile (all the  more so if Cary Grant had accepted  a proferred role)  but as Michael Dunn’s narration has it: ‘This is a ship of fools, if you look closely enough you may even find yourself aboard.”’   A Grand Hotel At Sea  of 30s’ stereotypes  on  a cruise liner going the wrong way – from Mexico to the newly Nazi Germany.  Peter Falk was also shortlisted for Reiber, a buffoon of the new Fatherland.    
  5. Red Buttons, Harlow, 1964. Buttons was  the best thing in the film, which is not what you expect to say about a Jean Harlow biopic!  Peter Falk, George Jessel and Edmond O’Brien were up for agent Arthur Landau.  He collaborated on the source novel becoming the  second  of New York producer Joseph E Levine’s three snitty/snotty movies about Hollywood -  The Carpetbaggers, 1963, and  The Oscar, 1965. Each one was worse than the precedent.. 
  6. Tony Bennett, The Oscar, 1965.  The abrasive science fiction and scenarist Harlan Ellison adapted Richard Sale’s novel with Steve McQueen and Peter Falk in mind for the leads. He got the wooden Stephen Boyd and singer-turned-non-actor Bennett. A terrible experience, said Bennett, putting him off “acting” forever.  Banned from seeing rushes, Ellison  practically wept” at the premiere of   the rewritten mess made of his work. Said New York Times critic Bosley Crowther as “another distressing example of Hollywood fouling its nest -professionally, socially, commercially and especially artistically.”
  7. Mike Connors, Situation Hopeless - But Not Serious, 1965.      Due to join Robert Redford as the US flyers kept prisoner long after 1945 by German air-raid warden Alec Guinness in a seriously hopeless (unreleased) version of actor Robert Shaw's first novel, The Hiding Place.
  8. Elliott Gould, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, 1969.   Ted.   (Also refused by  Richard Benjamin and James Caan).
  9. Alex Rocco, The Godfather, 1972.
  10. Warren Oates, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, 1973.   Our hero Bennie - “He had to die,” insisted director Sam Peckinpah - was first offered to James Cobun. He hated the script and wondered why on Mexican earth, Sam wanted to make it.  Falk was still shooting Columbo and so Oates flew to Chalco and based Bennie on…  guess who. Even borrowing Sam’s shades.

  11. Elliott Gould, California Split, 1974.     How many Spielberg films did Robert Altman direct? Just this one. Slide, when Steven Spielberg and his pal, Joseph Walsh (compulsive gambler, ex-child actor, washed up at 18), spent nine months naturalising their script. They had Steve McQueen and a deal which MGM soured by adding Dean Martin as a mafiosi. (“He wears a lucky chip around his neck, he gets shot, the chip saves his life - you call the movie Lucky Chip.”) The guys fled to Universal which gave Spielberg The Sugarland Express to play with. Bye-bye Joey. And hello Bob Altman with a dynamic duo: M*A*S*H pal Elliott Gould (a former Walsh room-mate) and Segal (instead of Falk or Robert De Niro). “Altman,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “has made a lot more than a comedy about gambling; he's taken us into an American nightmare.” While Spielberg bemoaned: “I coulda made millions... I would’ve built it up to the greatst orgasm in town!”
  12. Jack Lemmon, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, 1975.     It was Peter's role.  He  created it on Broadway.  "Jack was good," agrees Neil Simon, "but it   needed someone more ethnically right, much more urban.   Jack, to me, does not portray a typical New Yorker.   But the studio told me: "Look, Peter's not a name - and Jack is a big name." Big names prove nothing in the wrong picture."
  13. Gert Frobe, The Serpent's Egg, 1977.      Lost:  a rare opportunity to work with Ingmar Bergman. (Working later with Wim Wenders was not the same thing). For his first Hollywood-backed, and totally English-speaking film (there had been some Swedish in The Touch, 1970,with Elliott Gould), the Swedish genius had some strange notions for circus performer Abel Rosenberg. David Bowie, Richard Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford (!) and two top TV names: Carradine and Peter Falk  Far from the finest Bergman (too far from his roots), but Harris and Hoffman later regretted their passing… (An inexplicable second consecutive rejection of Bergman by Hoffman!).
  14. George Segal, The  Duchess and The Dirtwater Fox, 1977.     So, I said, quite innocently to Segal in Paris: Was your great Touch of Class comedy partner, Glenda  Jackson, supposed to be the Duchess. “Yes,” he smiled. “She was supposed to do that. [Pause].  With Peter  Falk!”
  15. John Belushi, Continental Divide, 1981.   Steven Spielberg adored the Tracy/Hepburn unlikely romcoms. Now he’d found his own. Except he chickened out whenhe couldn’t unearth a new Spence/Kate.  He remained producer and thought the no-nonsense journo hero (based on Chicago Sun Times columnist Mike Royko) was perfectfor… Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss (known as Spielberg's Tracy), Dustin Hoffman, George Segal. Plus Peter Falk -Spielberg had directed the first Columbo episode, Murder By The Book, in 1971.  Then, Belushi, the ruination of Spielberg’s 1941, decided he could go straight. Stevenbelieved him.  And stuck him on poor UK director Michael Apted.   Monumental error!
  16. Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, 1981.    UK wiz Ridley Scott spent a long time sniffing out the perfect Deckard.  From top notchers Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman (the first choice was keen… on making it a totally different character, of course), Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino…  to such excellent journeymen as William Devane, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Frederic Forrest, Scott Glenn, Tommy Lee Jones, Raul Julia, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken.  Martin Sheen was too exhausted after Apocalypse Now. In sheer desperation, choices lowered to Cliff Gorman, Judd Hirsch. Even the Virginian Morgan Paull stood a chance, having played Deckard in Scott’s tests of potential Rachaels. (He was given Holden for his pains). Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger, not yet seen as Conan, much less Terminator.  And for probably the last time in such an illustrious list,  the fading star of Burt Reynolds.
  17. Jon Voight, The Runaway Train, 1984.    Due in 1970 as Akira Kurosawa’s first US film, the project was canceled due to heavy snowstorms (and budget hassles)  in the upstate New York. Cannon’s much ridiculed Go-Go Boys, Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, wisely invited Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky aboard - and really shook  up the 1986 Cannes festival. Kurosawa had wanted Peter Falk as the escaped convict aboard a speeding train… without a driver.
  18. Walter Matthau, Movers & Shakers,1984. Change of Joe Mulholland, the movie studio chief backug the film within… the films.  Actor Charles Grodin’s script was The Joy of Sexwhen Paramlount hoped to print money in 1978 by filming Alex Comfort’s best-selling sex manual. They didn’t care what it was about - the title was the star! Grodin wrote about his hassles with the big studo. Paramount passed. He offered his work to every other company. It became Dreamers at Columbia, then Movers & Shakersat MGM. Grodin played himself and friends like Penny Marshall and Steve Martin worked for minmum salaries. (Matthaui cut his usual $2m fee in half). Grodin got $5,000 for acting. Nothing for his full seven years of toil. He co-starred again wih Matthau again in The Couch Trip, 1987. Paramount’s intended star, John Belushi, ODed while rewriting the film  that finally became a sex romp with the leading teenage lass being 21.
  19. Albert Brooks, The Scout, 1994.        But then, Brooks   didn’t   just audition, he re-wrote his own version...
  20. Bruce Willis, Breakfast of Champions, 1999.   Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis bought the Kurt Vonnegut satire for Robert Altman to repeat his 1974 Nashville triumph with. But first, they would succeed wjth Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson. Being as long-winded as the title, that flopped and Dino took Altman’s Breakfast away. Bob’s cast had included the Columbo star as Dwayne Hoover, Alice Cooper for his son, Bunny, Sterling Hayden as Kilgore Trout and Ruth Gordon as an old man! They became Bruce Willis, Lukas Haas, Albert Finney and Ken Hudson Campbell in the version made by Alan Rudolph… Altman’s longtime apprentice. He made a dog’s breakfast of it. 




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