Walter Huston


  1. Charles Bickford, This Day And Age,  1932.    Although he billed it  as “The FIRST Great Spectacle of Modern Times,”  this is the  forgotten  Cecil B DeMille film –  his only gangster talkie. (Close  to his 1929 demi-talkie, The Godless Girl). CB had a tough job finding his LA crimelord. Huston, Lionel Atwill, Burgess Meredith, Chester Morris and Paul Muni fled.  After reading  the script?  The gangster was taken down by LA High School student vigilantes,  no less.
  2. Ben Lyon, Girl Missing, 1932.       Huston was first choice for the millionaie losing his brand new wife (Oeggy Shannon) when the early talkie quickie (shot in two weeks) was still called The Blue Moon Murder Case. When moonlighting as the Fox studio’s casting director, Ben Lyon gave Norma Jean Baker her new name…   Marilyn Monroe.
  3. Charles Trowbridge, Cadet Girl, 1940.    Change of West Point’s Colonel Bradley in the musical propaganda programmer from Fox with George Montgomery falling for Carole Landis as the singer with his brother Shepperd Strudwick’s band.The Mexican-born Trowbridge was  a solid character in some 232 films during 1915-1958. His younger brother, Jack Rockwell,  knocked off 255 (mainly Westerns) in 20 years.
  4. Edward G Robinson, Tales of Manhattan, 1941.    Or Tails, at first,  as the anthology tales were – flimsily – linked by a tail coat passed from one to another. Huston was up for a sadsack attending a college reunion in the ill-fitting coat and boasting of his successes. Segment finally featured Laughton and his wife, Elsa Lanchester. In all, six vignettes (WC Fields’ was cut until DVDays) by 20 writers (only a  dozen credited) from 40 bought stories. 
  5. Joel McCrea, The Great Moment, 1942.  Three years earlier, Henry Hathaway was due to direct Gary Cooper in the biopic of Dr William Thomas Green Morton, the Boston dentist who invented anaesthetics in 1844. But Cooper quit Paramount. The good doctor was given lo Walter Huston who, passed him  to McCrea.  Far from the usual Preston Sturgis comedy and the studio hated the ending (WTGM  died a disgraced pauper) and re-cut it for a 1942 release, ending – as it were – in the middle!
  6. Alexander Knox, Wilson, 1943.     Gary Cooper and Henry Fonda were considered for the White House – and then Huston and Ronald Colman. Finally, the Canadian Knox was finally elected as 28th US President Thomas Woodrow Wilson. (Minus any mention of him supporting the Ku Klux Klan). The result was such a major flop that its loving producer Darryl F Zanuck banned everyone talking to about his paean to the “pre-FDR.”
  7. Dana Andrews, Boomerang! 1946.     Despite their considerable age differences, John Payne (34), Joseph Cotten (41), Fredric March (49) and Huston (63) were short listed for the idealistic prosecutor bravely dropping trumped-up charges against the suspect in the 1924 Connecticut murder of a Catholic priest. Andrews was 37 and the real prosecutor, Homer Stille Cummings, was 54 at the time. He famously declared his job had to protect the innocent as much as convicting the guilty. Nine years later, President Franklin Roosevelt made him America’s Attorney General.
  8. James Barton, Yellow Sky, 1947.   Head Fox Darryl F Zanuck suggested Walter Huston as Anne Baxter’s  Grandpa with a hidden stache of gold that Gregory Peck’s gang decide should be theirs. At least, Richard Widmark does in the excellent William Wellman Western –  with a smidgen  or two of The Tempest.    
  9. Edmund Gwenn, Mister 880, 1950.     “Always give ’em a good show and travel first class,” was Walter’s s motto. He arrived (first class) in LA for his 52nd film, suffered an aneurism and died of heart failure and internal bleeding in April 1950. Gwenn inherited the delightful old junk dealer who helps makes his lowly ends meet by simply forging $1 bills. Not a lot. Just what and when he needs. And gets way with it for ten years before being nabbed by Burt Lancaster’s Treasury agent.
  10. Finlay Currie, Quo Vadis, 1950.     Huston fils was preparing the 1949  version in  Rome for Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor and Huston pere as Saint Peter.  However, Peck developed ear trouble and everything was postponed… until after Walter’s death.

  11. Joe E Brown, Show Boat, 1950.    For the mooted 1946 version, the veteran Huston was due to play the vessel’s Cap’n Andy.  The role finally went to the comic known nine years later for the  greatest wrap line in movies. “Nobody’s perfect!”  In Some Like It Hot.    
  12. Gregory Peck,  Moby Dick, 1956.    Clutching his Treasure of the Sierra Madre Oscar, Walter said he had always asked his son to reserve him a good part sometime. This would have been the second but the old man had died six years before John could set sail in the Pequod.   At his funeral, Spencer Tracy said: “Professionally, he’s easy to rate….   He was the best.”
  13. Glenn Ford, Cowboy, 1957.    His first Columbia production, We Were Strangers, 1948, flopped which is why Sam Spiegel never made The Reminiscences of a Cowboy (from the Frank Harris novel) with, as planned, Montgomery Clift and Huston, to be directed by his son John –  Sam’s later partner in Horizon Pictures. 





 Birth year: 1884Death year: 1950Other name: Casting Calls:  13