Sir Anthony Quayle

  1. Alec Guinness, The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1956.    
    One more river… Producer Sam Spiegel suggested the always officer-class Quayle from the previous year’s Battle of the Rive Plate.  An excellent notion  – but director David  Lean was smitten.   Next?  Ronald Colman, Noel Coward, Charles Laughton, James Mason, Ray Milland, Eric Portman, Ralph Richardson – and Spencer Tracy, who bluntly told Spiegel that the Colonel had  to be an Englishman.  “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch a stiff-upper-lip British colonel for two and a half hours,” said Guinness. Spiegel took him to dinner. “He was very persuasive.” (Of course, he was. In the 50s/60s,  to “Spiegel” was  LA parlance meaning: to cajole, manipulate or con. That’s how producer Spiegel won his deals, casts, women – and Guinness. “I started out maintaining that I wouldn’t play the role and by the end of the evening, we were discussing what kind of wig I would wear.” Lean later selected  Quayle for  Colonel Brighton –   “the only honorable character ”  – in Lawrence of Arabia, 1961.    

  2. John Carradine, Tarzan The Magnificent, 1959.       Following Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure, 1959, producer Sy Weintraub wanted Quayle   to return in  another ape-man adventure.  Sorry, said Quayle, but I’ve got David Lean… and Lawrence of Arabia.  And so Tony  missed out on the sole  jungle rumble to star  It two Tarzans!  Gordon Scott, probably the finest ape-man of them all, and stuntman-turned-actor Jock Mahoney as the villain.  Jock, Sally Fields’ step-father, took over from Scott and  became the oldest Tarzan (at 42) in 1962, for two films and a four-chapter TV series. 
  3. Ralph Bellamy, Sunrise at Campobello, 1960. Ralph Bellamy portrayed (the pre-Presidential) Franklin Delano Roosevelt  556 times on Broadway  but was worried about tackling he same  FDR ages of 39 to 42n close-ups – and colour! – at age 55. screen. The very reason talks began  with Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston and, as the play and film’s writer  Dore Schary  suggested,  the British stage star Anthony Quayle.  But then, Bellamy and Schary ived on opposite sides of the same Manhattan street.. Knock, knock.  “Mr President. Welcome!”
  4. Andrew Keir, Quatermass and the Pit (US : Five Million Years to Earth, 1967.       Like all Hammer films – sequels or not – it began with a poster. And on it, the hero, Professor Bernard Quatermass, was recognisably John Neville. He did not make the film. Nor did Quayle or Hollywood’s Van Heflin. The talled bearded Scot was perfect and 30 years later, he was the rocket man again for BBC Radio’s The Quatermass Memoirs, also wrtten by the outstanding Nigel Kneale.
  5. Laurence Olivier, Sleuth, 1972.  US director Joseph Mankiewicz’ first thought was Cary Grant. Olivier was second, while the playwright Anthony Shaffer wanted to keep faith with his West End star, Anthony Quayle.  The other acting credits – Teddy Martin, John Matthews and “introducing Alec Cawthorne” are all false (such as Eve Channing… remember Mankiewicz made All About Eve!) as this is a clever two-hander. “Indeed,” said Mank, “this is ther only film I’ve ever done where the entire cast was nominated.” The entire cast being Olivier and Michael Caine! And Mank for Best Director. A good one to retire on. 
  6. Trevor Howard, Meteor, 1979.         In the loop for Sir Michael Hughes in the last of the disaster movies (a $22m bummer) were: Quayle, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen Peter Cushing, Michael Hordern, Gordon Jackson, John Mills, Kenneth More, Trevor Howerd… and four UK knights of the realm: Sirs John Gielgud, Alec Guinness, John Mills and Ralph Richardson (Hordern was knighted in 1983, and Quayle in 1985).
  7. Clive Revill, The Princess and the Cobbler, 1993.        Somewhere in the tangled 1961-2013 history of the greatest Richard Williams toon that never was, new owners Allied Filmmakers – and also Miramax, calling it Arabian Knight in 1995 – had Revill re-voice (nearly) all of Quayle’s (final screen) work as King Nod. Didn’t help.


 Birth year: 1913Death year: 1989Other name: Casting Calls:  7