John Hodiak

  1. Walter Abel, An American Romance, 1943.    After losing Joseph Cotten from the finale of his “war, wheat, and steel” trilogy (after The Big Parade and Our Daily Bread), director King Vidor testeds Hodiak, John Craven, Philip Dorn, before choosing Abel. It was an ultra-US story. Earlier titles had been America, American Miracle, The Magic Land, This Is America, An American Story.
  2. Van Johnson, A Guy Named Joe, 1943.    Johnson was smashed up in a car crash on March 31, 1943.  MGM decided to to replace him with Hodiak or Peter Lawford. No, thundered  the film’s top stars, Spencer Tracy and Irene Dunne. Wait until he’s fit again.” Shooting shuttered fort more  than three months –  during which time Dunne knocked off White Cliffs of Dover  with Johnson in a thank-you cameo.  Joe is high among Steven Spielberg’s favourite films, not that you’d know it from his weak re-hash, Always, 1989.
  3. Dana  Andrews,  Laura,  l944.       Backed by Fox boss Darryl Zanuck, Rouben Mamoulian started with Hodiak and Laird Cregar  (in  the Clifton Webb role). Director-ogre  Otto Preminger took over and threw ’em out.  In his four Preminger films, Andrews (said Otto-biographer Chris Fujiwara) defined “a character type, an acting style and a way of observing character that are constitutive of the Preminger unverse.”
  4. Gregory Peck, The Valley of Decision, 1944.       Peck supplanted Hodiak as the hero of Marcia Davenport’s novel about Cinderella – er, an impoverished   Greer Garson falling for the rich mill owner’s son.  
  5. Glenn Langan, Dragonwyck, 1945.   Head Fox  Darryl F Zanuck went through three changes – from Hodiak to William Eythe to Michael Francis is – to find the right Dr Jeff Turner.
  6. Lee J Cobb, Boomerang! 1946.      Hodiak and John Ireland were talked of for the brooding police chief in the fictionalised treatment of the 1924 Connecticut murder of a Catholic priest. Because of Cobb’s performance, his director Elia Kazan chose him for Willy Loman in his next Broadway assignment, Death of a Salesman.
  7. Gene Kelly, The Pirate, 1947.  MGM snapped up SN Behrman’s play for… let’s see now, more stars than in the heavens above…    So how about them Minivers: Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon? Garson or Myrna Loy plus Cary Grant plus Charles Laughton…  Or, the Notorious Grant and Ingrid Bergman couple… or William Powell and Hedy Lamarr?  Hey, we’re MGM!  Why not a musical? With Judy Garland and… er… John Hodiak? They got on real swell in The Harvey Girls. He can’t really sing ‘n’ dance? No prob – Judy and Gene Kelly! And so it came to pass. Uneasily… The Minnellis (Judy and director Vincente) were at each other’s creative throats. A shrink was added to the budget to make sure Judy could get through it all.  LB Mayer ordered the Judy-Kelly Voodoo number burnt: it was too torrid. (Judy-Kelly were torrid?). In fact, LB hated it all, calling it high-brow and extremely pretentious. But that’’s Kelly  – and Minnelli – in a nutshell.
  8. Kevin McCarthy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956.       Oh, everyone  was up for the B-movie with  classic legs: Joseph Cotton, Dick Powell, Gig Young…
  9. Anthony Perkins, Green Mansions, 1958.      A stop-go project since 1933 at RKO, with every beauty from Mexican Dolores Del Rio to the Peruvian five-octave singer Yma Suma, by way of Pier Angel and, finally, Audrey Hepburn, for Rima, the jungle sprite. When MGM obtained the rights for Elizabeth Taylor, Hodiak pushed hard to the Abel in her thrall.

 Birth year: 1914Death year: 1955Other name: Casting Calls:  9