Ronald Reagan

  1. Ian Hunter, Comet Over Broadway, 1938. Bette Davis, new Warner Bros queen, passed the I-wanna-be-a-Broadway-star clunker. To the previous queen, Kay Franc is… falling for a Briyish playwrioght offered top the terribly Brityish Ronnie.  He didbnlty say so but probvably agreed with Bette. “Weak tea in director Joe May’s rigid shot-by-shot, songs-by-songs, score-by-score, fade-by-fade, dissolive-by-dissolve, time-by time re-hash  of  Willi Forst’s  1935 German film, Mazurka. As one of the fathers of German cinema (the first to hire Fritz Lang)  May should have known better. Would have been easier – cheaper – to dub  the original, already bought by Warner Bros to avoid any other distributor stealing their (mild) thunder.
  2. Randolph Scott, Virgina City, 1940.    Errol Flynn’s very B-Western was a good one   to miss.
  3. Cary Grant, Arsenic and Old Lace, 1941.   How could crucial, global decisions be left to a President who refused one of the most memorable comedy roles? Frank Capra is one of the great Hollywood directors…. and liars!  He told Grant that he was the only actor in America who could do justice to the screwball role of Mortimer Brewster. So what did Capra tell Reagan (!), Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Richard Travis (who?  A B-filmer who  replaced Reagan in The Man Who Came to Dinner that year).  Shot in 1941, when Archie Leach legally became Cary Grant,  the release was delayed, as per contract, until after the play closed… in 1944. Cary Grant felt his Mortimer was say over the top.  .”Jimmy Stewart could  have done a much better job  did. He would have been wonderful… I told Frank Capra that at the time,  He just wouldn’t t listen.” Capra said he’d  solve it in the final edit Except  he went to film WWII  for  his superb  Why We Fight series.  
  4. Gary Cooper, Sergeant York, 1941.    Warners announced Coop as the war hero of 1918 – without a finished script, much less a director – with Henry Fond and James Stewart as reserves. And then decided to test Reagan – on November 15, 1940. After Fleming, Hathaway, Koster, Taurog, Vidor and Wyler passed, Howard Hawks proved quite satisfied with Coop.
  5. Richard Travis, The Man Who Came To Dinner, 1941.   The big tussle was over the titular Sheridan Whiteside (John Barrymore, Robert Benchley, Charles Coburn, Cary Grant, Charles Laughton, Fredric March). Reagan, however,  was the only other guy seen  for Burt Jefferson.
  6. Fred MacMurray, Dive Bomber, 1941.  Fred is a WWII pilot, with Dr Errol Flynn aboard because as the New York Times explained this was “:less about dive bombing than it is about aviation medicine, less about the fellows who fight in airplanes than it is about the surgeons who fight the strange and unpredictable ailments that attack a flying man high in the blue.” 
  7. Bruce Bennett, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, 1947.    Because   of   his Warners contract, Reagan had first crack at Curtin   – and passed.  To the relief of writer-director John Huston.  “I didn’t  want him.  God, he’s a bore. And   a bad actor.   Besides,  he has a low  order of intelligence. With a certain cunning.   Not   animal   cunnning   –   human cunning. Animal cunning is too fine an expression for him. He’s inflated, he’s egotistical,   one of those people who thinks he’s right. And he’s not right.   About anything.”
  8. Robert Young, And Baby Makes Three, 1948.      The pitch: a woman about to wed her lover finds she is pregnant by her ex-husband… Yeah, well, that probably explains why Reagan refused to be loaned by Warner to Columbia Unless it was because Henry Levin was directing…
  9. Joel McCrea, Colorado Territory, 1949.    Like everyone at Warners, Reagan was testing for director Raoul Walsh’s second version of High Sierra. McCrea only realised it was a Western when Walsh issued his usual horse-opera order: “Don’t get your hair cut!”
  10. Gary Merrill, All About Eve, 1949.

  11. Errol Flynn, Rocky Mountain, 1949.  
    Bored with his roles – “I could telephone my lines in” –  Reagan was promised a Western… if he found one! He did – by The Searchers author Alan Le May – but he had quit Warners by the time Ghost Mountain became Rocky Mountain. “I’m going to pick my own pictures. I could do as good a job as the studio has done.” And if not? “Well, I can always go back to being a sports announcer.” Or something else.  So this one became Errol Flynn’s final fling in the West. He celebrated by making co-star Patrice Wymore his third and final wife, from, 1950 to his 1959 demise.

  12. Burt Lancaster, From Here To Eternity, 1952.
  13. William Daniels, The Graduate,1967.    
  14. Lee Tracy, The Best Man, 1963.    Ripley time! Believe It Or Not…  Reagan was turned down by studio suits saying that the future, 1981-1989 40th US president… did not have “that presidential look”! (This was Tracy’s 37th and final cinema movie).
  15. RG Armstrong, Dick Tracy, 1989.   Disney was keen on the suggestion from make-up designers, John Caglione Jr and Doug Drexler, abouty casting the 40th US President as….Pruneface.  (D’oh! They were joking, Mr Katzenberg!).  Director Warren  Beatty, directing himself as  Tracy, was 100%  against such an unseemly gimmick and gave the rôle to Armstrong – they’d worked together on Reds and Heaven Can
  16. Hugh Gillin, Back To The Future, 1990.   The ex-President “reluctantly”   passed on Mayor Hubert. He loved the first of the trilogy – cited   in his 1986 State of the Union address: “As they said in the film Back to the Future: Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”     Ronnie often asked   the White House projectionist to wind it back to Doc Brown’s disbelief that an actor could become president… Reagan also noted that the Hill Valley cinema was screening his Western, Cattle Queen of Montana, 1954.
  17. Lloyd Bridges, Joe versus The Volcano, 1990.     For his helming debut, Moonstruckscenarist John Patrick Shanley considered wooing The Great Communicator   back to his old job.   A serious idea “met with such consternation by certain parties.” Nancy Reagan, also being wooed back to cinema, said her job was “to protect Ronnie from himself. He has a big Irish heart and trusts everybody.”  Or to put it another way…  According to his agent Meyer Mishkin, Lee Marvin  only ever badmouthed one actor –  Reagan, his co-star in The Killers, 1963. “He’s a jerk.”


One of Ronald Reaga’s mainly rotten movies n movie actually saved his life…

In 1938, Reagan made a ‘thriller” called Code of the Secret Service.  He played  Agent ‘Brass’ Bancroft.  At one screening, there was a nine-year-old kid named Jerry Parr. 

CUT to 42 years later – and this is the movie and this is the role and this is the the kid who saved President  Reagan’s from John Hinkley Jr’’s attempt to assassinate the 40th POTUS in Washington on March 30, 1981 – with six .22 calibre bullets in 1.7 seconds.

Parr, now 51, was the Secret Service agent on the Presidential bodyguard detail who threw Reagan into his limo. Seconds later – and without knowing if “Rawhide” had been hit or not –  Parr decided to  change the destination of the speeding car from the White House to George Washington Hospital…  Doctors later confirmed that Reagan had indeed been shot, with the  bullet entering his left lung,  an inch from his heart; he was bleeding profusely, internally… and  would have died if he had not been rushed to the ER.

Parr explained  to the President that it was his  portrayal of ‘Brass’ Bancroft that bred his ambition to become a Secret Service agent. Reagan told him the film was was the cheapest he’d ever made… and Agent Parr (the 1992 technical  adviser on Clint Eastwood’s  Special Agent for  In The Line of Fife) had to agree  it was a terrible movie.   But…

 Birth year: 1911Death year: 2004Other name: Casting Calls:  17