Thomas Mitchell

  1. Henry Kolker, The Cowboy and the Lady, 1938.   aka Syretch and Mary: Gary Cooper andf Merle Oberon…  Due to production hassles and his next gig, Mitchell had to quit being Mary’s Pa. Kolker took and reshot all of Mitchel’s previous footage as directors changed from Leo McCarey, William Wyler and HC Potter to the editor Stuart Heisler!  
  2. Edward Arnold, The Devil and Daniel Webster, 1941.   Poor Mitchell lost control of his horse-drawn carriage and was flung out onto the road during a scene, fracturing his skull and requiring hospitalisation for 17 weeks. Director William Dieterl called up first Charles Coburn, then Arnold to take over the title tole – and he re-shot all the Mitchell footage.
  3. Walter Huston,All That Money Can Buy (UK:The Devil and Daniel Webster), 1941.  Mitchell was injured as shooting began on Simone Simon’s  return to Hollywood afterLa bête humaine.   Catapaulted from  his carriage on losing control of the horses, he spent four months  in dock with a  fractured skull. Arnold was playing Daniel Webster within 24 hours.
  4. Lynne Overman, Roxie Hart, 1941. A musical  dedicated to “all the beautiful women in the world who have shot their men full of holes out of pique…”  After the chicago trial for murder, the titular Ginger Rogers has to decide  which guy to wed.  Frawley as the jury foreman or George Montgomery as the poor but honest crime reporter.  Nolo contendere.
  5. Paul Henreid, Joan of Paris, 1941   Cary Grant passed on WWII heroics, leading to the Hollywood debut of not only the Austrian Henreid but the French Michèle Morgan.  Also up for the WWII French Resistance leader Paul Lavallier were fellow Frenchies Charles Boyer and Jean Gabin (Morgan’s co-star in the classsic Le quai des brumes, 1938). Also, Hollywood’s Thomas Mitchell  and – somewhat  surprisingly –  the unprepossessing Brit, Robert Morley.  Well, then again, he had  been  the French  king Louis XVI in MGM’s Marie Antoinette in  1937.
  6. Akim Tamiroff, For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942.   Among the ususal suspects for a support role: Edward Arnold, Wallace Beery, Lee J Cobb, Albert Dekker, Charles Laughton, Thomas Mitchell , Edward G Robinson.  Plus two graduates  of Vienna’s Academy of Music and  Dramatic Arts: Oscar Homolka and Fritz Kortner – and the Spanish-born opera singer-playwright-novelist-composer Fortunio Bonanova.
  7. Charles Bickford, The Song of Bernadette, 1943. About ten actors tested for Father Peyramale, parish priest of the  French girl who had a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858. They included: Mitchell, Lee J Cobb, Donald Crisp, Walter Hampden and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. (Cobb was later given Dr  T Duzous).
  8. Ray Collins, Leave Her To Heaven, A Fox press release on April 6, 1945, stipulated that Mitchell would play Glen Robie in the trashy soap opera – despite its Shakesperean  title.  (Hamlet). . He didn’t. Collins did. Who? Well, everyone knew him better as LAPD Lieutenant Tragg in Perry Mason during 1957-1965.
  9. Brian Donlevy, Canyon Passage, 1945. For his first major Western (and colour debut), Hollywood’s resident realisateur Jacques Tourneur wanted to reunite the 1938 Stagecoach team of Trevor, John Wayne and Thomas Mitchell.   He had to make do with Susan Hayward, Dana Andrews, Donlevy
  10. Ray Collins, Leave Her  To Heaven, 1945.   A Fox press release on April 6, 1945, stipulated that Mitchell would play Glen Robie in the trashy soap opera – despite its Shakesperean  title.  (Hamlet). . He didn’t. Collins did. Who? Well, everyone knew him better as  LAPD Lieutenant Tragg in Perry Mason during 1957-1965.

  11. Lionel Barrymore, It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946.  
  12. Chill Wills, Giant, 1955.
  13. Peter Falk, Columbo, TV, 1971-2003.   The tenacious but eventually boring Lieutenant Frank Columbo actually dated back to 1960 and Bert Freed playing the William Link and Richard Levinson creation in the Enough Rope episode of NBC’s The Chevy Mystery Show. Two years later, they turned the  script into a stage play, Prescription For Murder, with Mitchell just-one-more-thinging.   Audiences preferred him to Joseph Cotton’s villain and the writers started musing on a series format for Mitchell. But the veteran  died in 1962. So who else? Bing Crosby turned down all series: “It would interfere with my golf game.” Lee J Cobb also passed. It took Link andf Levinson three years to wear down Falk’s reluctance down (by agreeing to eight shows a season, instead of the usual 22). Two pilots led to the first season’s opener: Murder By The Book, a Steven Bochco script directed by an unknown whelp named Steven Spielberg. Falk was really reprisng his Lieutenant  Bixby from the 1965 Penelope film with Natalie Wood. He was anti-cliché until, of course, he became a most annoying cliché, himself. With all his oddities: never being called Frank (the name was visible on his warrant card), his pessimism (forever wearing the world’s most famious raincoat in the LA sun), his battered Renault 403, and, finally, a dog. Oh,  and a wife, often mentioned but unseen (until winning her own series). Falk died  at 83 in 2011, no longer knowing who he was.  Or Columbo.

 Birth year: 1892Death year: 1962Other name: Casting Calls:  13