Steve Cochran

  1. Bob Steele,  The Big Sleep, 1944.    Howard Hawks tested him and didn’t like him. Simple as that.Yet he called him back for another gangster in A Song Is Born, the 1947 re-make ofhis 1941Ball of Fire – and Cochran’s third movie with Danny Kaye and Virgina Mayo.  Hawks wanted to hold-the-Mayo. He didn’t like her. “Pathetic.”
  2. Gene Nelson,  Crime Wave, 1952.   Inexplicable  switch of ex-con from the badaas Cochran to the milquetoast Nelson.  Head brother Jack Warner had wanted Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner. (Can’t you just hear Bogie intoning the first title line: Don’t Cry, Baby).  Director André De Toth not only replaced them with Nelson and Phyllis Kirk, but managed to keep his job.  “OK,” said Warner, “do it your way. You have 14 days.” De Toth finished the great little film noir  a day early.  It was then shelved for two years.
  3. Stephen Boyd, Ben-Hur, 1958.   For Messala in  the MGMighty $5m epic re-make, director William Wyler (from the original’s 1924 crew) first thought of Charlton Heston, the star of his previous movie, The Big Country. (He went on to win the title role, of course).  Wyler then tested Danton, Leslie Nielsen and two Brits: Ronald Lewis and Bill Travers… saw Steve Cochran and Victor Mature… oh, and Robert Ryan, when Burt Lancaster was to be Judah Ben-Hur. And so another career bit the dust… despite an fling with Italy’s Michelangelo Antonioni  giving Cochran some (temporary)  kudos.
  4. Kevin McCarthy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956.    Although he had made Antonioni (Il Grido/The Cry, 1957), Cochran was the epitome of the “must try harder” star, a chip off the Victor Mature block.



 Birth year: 1917Death year: 1965Other name: Casting Calls:  4