Lionel Barrymore

  1. Wilfred Lucas, The Massacre, 1911.      Silent screen director DW Griffith did not always get  his own way.
  2. Walter Huston, Night Court, 1931.        Change  of the crooked Judge Moffatt in  the MGM courthouse.
  3. Frank Morgan, Reunion In Vienna, 1932.      MGM chose both Barrymores, John and Lionel, for the banished archduke and the shrink who wed the exiled’s ex. Roland Young was contacted (according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 20, 1933) but it was Morgan who husbanded the UK’s Diana Wyngarde.  Movie debut of Henry Travers, aka  Clarence, the guardian angel (“second class”) of It’s A Wonderful Life, 1945.
  4. Jean Hersholt, Men In White, 1932.      In the  mix for Dr Hochberg in the movie of Sidney Kingsley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play – labeled unfit for public exhibition by the  Legion of Decency, etc,  for a “suggested abortion.”
  5. Walter Connolly, Libeled Lady, 1934.      Change of Mr Allenbury in the MGM romcom. In the 1945 re-tread, Easy to Wed, Connolly, said Variety,  “registered in crack fashion, as usual” as Myrna Loy’s father.William Powell and Myrna Loy (in the fifth of 14 winners) had become Van Johnson, and Esther Williams… and the extras included a beardless Fidel Castro! 
  6. Otto Kreuger, Vanessa:  Her Love Story, 1934.      Poor Helen Hayes’ insane husband went from two Barrymores (John and Lionel), Charles Laughton and Frank Morgan to Kreuger.
  7. Lewis Stone, You’re Only Young Once, 1934.     Change of Andy Hardy/Mickey Rooney’s dad when the surprise ($25m) success of A Family Affair earlier that year led to a series. As Barrymore was confined to a wheelchair,  Stone remained Judge James K Hardy of Carvel, Idaho, for the next 14 films until 1946.  He died five years before MGM’s failed reboot, Andy Hardy Comes Home in 1958. 
  8. Victor McLaglen, Nancy Steele Is Missing, 1936.      Following his Reunion triumph, the post-Lindbergh baby kidnapper was first designed for Jean Hersholt Due to script changes, the it was later passed to Barymore – and Wallace Beery, who couldn’t “do a picture with a director whose name I can’t pronounce” (Otto Preminger was that difficult?).
  9. Frank Morgan, The Human Comedy, 1942.      As William Saroyan tried to persuade MGM to let him produce and direct his 240-page script, Barrymore bowed out and his usual  substitute subbed as Willie Grogan. Sam Shepard was Willie in the 2014 re-make, Ithaca – directing debut of… Meg Ryan.
  10. Reginald Owen, A Christmas Carol, 1937.  Ill health  had Barrymore suggesting his busy pal, Owen (175 screen roles in 62 years) to play Scrooge – Barrymore’s signature  and annual role on radio.  You Can’t Take It With You, 1938.  was the first film to display Barrymore’s crippling arthiritis. He played Grandpa Vanderhof on crutches., Director Frank Capra put a cast on one foot and had him explained, how he sprained his ankle when sliding down the bannister! In his  next 39 films, up to 1959, includ8bg his 13 movies as Dr Kildare’s boss,. Dr Gillespie, Barrymore was always seated – but never r in a wheelchair.

  11. Frank Morgan, Courage of Lassie, 1944.     Change of trainer… Steven Spielberg was clumsily channeling this third Lassie outing (the one that never mentions Lassie) when making War Horse 65 years later!  The same bulcolic, unbelievable, olde  English village beginning churning into the horrors of war. War horse. War dog. What’s the difference?  Size.
  12. Godfrey Tearle, The Beginning or the End? 1946.     A-Bomb fever hits Hollywood..! Rival studios MGM, Paramount and 20th Century-Fox scrambled to be first with an atomic drama. Metro won by merging its idea with Hal Wallis’ Top Secret at Paramount and promising Clark Gable, Van Johnson and Spencer Tracy. None made the movie – nearly sunk when Eleanor Roosevelt objected to Barymore playing her husband after making known his dislike of FDR. Quickly, MGM dumped him for Sir Godfrey Tearle, the New York-born Briitsh stage star.
  13. Charles Laughton, The Paradine Case, 1946.     Producer David Selznick’s second choice in 1933 was the man with eyebrows that (suggested  Margot Peters) could rock a boat.
  14. Harry Davenport, That Forsyte Woman, 1948.    Back in 1933, David Selznick wanted use  all three Barrymores – as disparate as their homesteads. Lionel, alcohol and morphine addict, lived in the valley; John, self-destructive alcoholic, lived in the hills; Ethel, also alcoholic, faced the ocean.
  15. Errol Flynn, Kim, 1950.    An on/off MGM project since 1935 when Barrymore was due as Mahbub Ali, The Red Beard, and Freddie Bartholomew as the titular boy wonder. Two months before the opening of their previous Rudyard Kipling tale, Captains Courageous, Barrymore was dropped – for Robert Taylor.  Then, so was the film, until Mickey Rooney was booked for Kimball O’Hara in 1942.  That was dropped, too.
  16. Lewis Stone, The Unknown Man, 1950.   Illness prevented Barrymore being Hizzoner Judge Holbrook in director Richard Thorpe’s totally miscast courtroom (and morality) drama.
  17. Louis Calhern, The Man with a Cloak, 1951.   Or The Gentleman from Paris, when Barrymore proved too ill to play Marshal Charles François Thevenet, in the MGM’ costume  melodrama. 
  18. Finlay Currie,  Ivanhoe, 1952.      When first planned in  the mid-30s, MGM aimed to squeeze too many contract stars into unlikely roles in Sir Walter Scott’s 12th Century, Robin Hoodish tale of chivalrous knights, warring Saxons, Normans, Christians and Jews. Such as Wallace Beery, Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer.  And  Barrymore as the father disowning his titular, heroic son. 
  19. Paul Fix, The High and the Mighty, 1953.      All aboard the flying Grand Hotel – a DC-4 piloted by John Wayne and Robert Stack and stuffed to the flaps with the kind of mixed cliché bag of passengers that continued into the Airport films and were torn to comic shreds by the Airplane franchise. Tasty or not, the roles were basically cameos. And, therefore, beneath the high and mighty Lionel Barrymore, etc. Enter: Fix, an old buddy of Duke’s.

 Birth year: 1878Death year: 1954Other name: Casting Calls:  19