Joan Blondell

  1. Loretta Young, Taxi!, 1932.       James Cagney and Blondell made seven Warner  films over three years, since hitting Hollywood in l931 when Al Jolson insisted  they repeat their Penny Arcade stage roles in Sinner’s Holiday.  Instead of an  eighth teaming, Cagney handed the role to the lady known variously  as Gretch The Wretch and Atilla The Nun.
  2. Ann Dvorak, The Crowd Roars, 1931.      The Silver Fox, director Howard Hawks, changed his mind about MGM’s Dorothy Mackail, as James Cagney’s mistress.  He replaced her with  Blondell  as Lee  opposite his lover Dvorak (almost a  clone of his first wife, Athole Shearer)  as Anne. They weren’t happy and Hawks switched their roles… with nary a word to the brothers Warner! Cagney and Blondell made seven movies  together.
  3. Madge Evans, The Mayor of Hell, 1932.       Evans,  a silents’ kid star who quit movies five years later. was a (poor) replacement for Glenda Farrell, who replaced the first choice Blondell  – opposite James Cagney. Said Blondell: Said Blondell: “I’m from the one-two-kick school of acting. I wasn’t such  a tremendous star that I could afford to revolt.”
  4. Ginger Rogers, 42nd Street, 1932.    Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” – the line (often misquoted) of themusical of all time..  Ginger’s lover, director Mervyn LeRoy, told her to grab the hooker role of Anytime Annie. She did. Blondell didn’t. And so, like Richard Barthelmess, Ruth Chatterton, Glenda Farrell, Kay Francis, Frank McHugh, Warren William and Loretta Young, she missed the film that saved Warner  Bros from bankruptcy…and was still  13th on the AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals list 73 years later.   Said Blondell: “I’m from the one-two-kick school of acting.”
  5. Carol Hughes, Marry The Girl, 1936.      Blondell had to quit the comedy which had gangsters, nut jobs, who-hoo comics – everything but a plot. (And laughs). She was rescued by the brothers Warner had ordering re-takes for the film she thought she’d   completed, The King and the Chorus Girl. (French star Fernand Gravet was ex-King Alfred VII of some unknown European settlement).Three years later, Hughes replaced Jean Rogers as Dale Arden in  the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe,  Buster Crabbe’s finale
  6. Virginia Bruce, There’s That Woman Again, 1937.     One outing as private eye-ful Sally Reardon – not to mention three films with Melvyn Douglas (here playing hubby Bill Reardon) – was enough for Blondell, She quit the second. Columbia expected many more. However, the Reardons did not have the appeal of Mr and Mrs Thin Man.
  7. Audrey Totter, The Set Up, 1948.   Also in the mix for boxer Robert Ryan’s wife was Totter. In Joseph Moncure March’s narrative poem, the boxer was a bigamist., ex-convict and, something everybody worked hard to forget – black. But (a) there were no leading black men at the time; (b) RKO had no black actors under contract; and (c) the real truth: A black guy in a leading role – never!!” And yet James Edwards was in the cast and he was one of the two leads of Home of the Brave made that same year… and hardly in secret.


 Birth year: 1906Death year: 1979Other name: Casting Calls:  7