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Egregious Examples of Miscasting


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Grant was also the original choice for about 50 other films of the '50s and '60s whch had other actors as the male lead.

 

Grant was friends with Wilder socially and often said he hoped they could work together. But he would never agree on a script.

 

And Grant's career was kind of in the doldrums (comparatively) when Sabrina was made. He wasn't getting that many great offers, and was even considering retirement.

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Age is usually directly related to miscasting.  Add me to the list of those who feel that the big problem with William Holden in Picnic and Bogart in Sabrina was that they were too old for the parts, but played them well.  Ditto Dana Andrews in The Best Years of Our Lives and James Dunn in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, who looked nothing like the blond, handsome Johnny Nolan described in the book but who displayed great sensitivity and deserved that supporting Oscar.

 

I also felt that the problems with Brando in Mutiny on the Bounty was that he was too old and too heavy (unlike Gable before him and Gibson after him, Brando did not go shirtless).

 

Regarding The Opposite Sex, not only was June Allyson too old for the Mary Haines character, but what about Joan Blondell as the always-pregnant Edith Potter?  (I'm using character names from The Women; they might have changed for the remake).  Joan was about 50 by then and looked silly in maternity wear.  And did anyone believe that Vera-Ellen was Rosemary Clooney's *younger* sister in White Christmas?

 

Allow me to add to the miscast Hilary Swank in The Black Dahliia (she lacks the sex appeal to be a femme fatale) Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker in Laura (a great performance, but totally lacking sex appeal), and Lee Phillips in Peyton Place (he had the right look, but his high-pitched voice messed it up).. 

 

Some people didn't like Rosalind Russell as a Jewish widow in A Majority of One, but I thought she was fine.  I also thought Ingrid Bergman was good as the cunning Cleo in Saratoga Trunk.

 

BLU

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Age is usually directly related to miscasting.  Add me to the list of those who feel that the big problem with William Holden in Picnic and Bogart in Sabrina was that they were too old for the parts, but played them well.  Ditto Dana Andrews in The Best Years of Our Lives and James Dunn in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, who looked nothing like the blond, handsome Johnny Nolan described in the book but who displayed great sensitivity and deserved that supporting Oscar.

 

I also felt that the problems with Brando in Mutiny on the Bounty was that he was too old and too heavy (unlike Gable before him and Gibson after him, Brando did not go shirtless).

 

Regarding The Opposite Sex, not only was June Allyson too old for the Mary Haines character, but what about Joan Blondell as the always-pregnant Edith Potter?  (I'm using character names from The Women; they might have changed for the remake).  Joan was about 50 by then and looked silly in maternity wear.  And did anyone believe that Vera-Ellen was Rosemary Clooney's *younger* sister in White Christmas?

 

Allow me to add to the miscast Hilary Swank in The Black Dahliia (she lacks the sex appeal to be a femme fatale) Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker in Laura (a great performance, but totally lacking sex appeal), and Lee Phillips in Peyton Place (he had the right look, but his high-pitched voice messed it up).. 

 

Some people didn't like Rosalind Russell as a Jewish widow in A Majority of One, but I thought she was fine.  I also thought Ingrid Bergman was good as the cunning Cleo in Saratoga Trunk.

 

BLU

I presume you would have had someone like Tyrone Power playing Waldo Lydecker.

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I don't suppose this is exactly egregious, but Jonathan Rosenbaum has argued that both Ninotchka and Love in the Afternoon would have been better with Cary Grant in the lead, and it's hard to disagree.

 

William Powell would have been the male lead in "Ninotchka" had he not been recuperating from a long illness that nearly killed him. He had worked with Lubitsch in the silent era, and probably would have had terrific chemistry with Garbo.

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William Powell would have been the male lead in "Ninotchka" had he not been recuperating from a long illness that nearly killed him. He had worked with Lubitsch in the silent era, and probably would have had terrific chemistry with Garbo.

Sorry. I can't see Garbo falling for William Powell.

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"I presume you would have had someone like Tyrone Power playing Waldo Lydecker."

 

Oops!  I should have clarified...a lack of sex appeal fits the part, but someone who didn't seem effeminate would have been better.  Laird Cregar could have done it (of course, he was dead at the time) or the aforementioned William Powell, or even Jerome Cowan (I think that's his name; he played the store psychiatrist in Miracle on 34th Street...I tend to mix him up with the guy who played the D.A.).

 

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Since it occurs to me that I didn't notice anyone mention this, but Carole Lombard (born 1908) would have been about 28 years old, not "not even 20" when she made My Man Godfrey in 1936...

 

Since all you guys are such movie buffs, I suspect that might have been a typo for "30."

 

BLU

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Since it occurs to me that I didn't notice anyone mention this, but Carole Lombard (born 1908) would have been about 28 years old, not "not even 20" when she made My Man Godfrey in 1936...

 

Since all you guys are such movie buffs, I suspect that might have been a typo for "30."

 

BLU

 

If you meant my comment about Lombard and My Man Godfrey,  well you misread what was posted.   Here is what I posted:

 

Allyson was too old for the part and she lacked that young girl vibe that Lombard brought to the role (even if Lombard wasn't 20 when she did the film).

 

Note that 'wasn't 20' is a lot different than saying 'not even 20'.      

 

Yes,  I knew that Lombard was NOT 20 and that she was older than that when she made this film.         But Lombard's persona at 28 could play a younger women (like one that is 20)  while Allyson's persona always comes off as a much older women.

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Pretty much anytime you have an incredibly white person playing a non-white person. Some people can pull it off (not to mention those since this is about miscasting) but the really bad ones that come to mind were Rock Hudson as an Indian in whichever western it was, Peter Lorre as a Chinese ship captain in THEY MET IN BOMBAY, and of course the extremely embarrassing Mickey Rooney as Mr Yunioshi in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. These are just a few that come to mind.

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Pretty much anytime you have an incredibly white person playing a non-white person. Some people can pull it off (not to mention those since this is about miscasting) but the really bad ones that come to mind were Rock Hudson as an Indian in whichever western it was, Peter Lorre as a Chinese ship captain in THEY MET IN BOMBAY, and of course the extremely embarrassing Mickey Rooney as Mr Yunioshi in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. These are just a few that come to mind.

 

But Peter Lorre was fine as Mr. Moto?  (NOT!).     Hey,  I enjoy watching Mr. Moto   (the MOVIES station plays them on their weekend mystery series a lot),   but he doesn't look anything like my uncles.     

 

How about Jean Crain in Pinky?   Jean does a fine job of acting but of course doesn't look right for the part.   But at least the studio didn't try to make her look the part with make-up.

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Pretty much anytime you have an incredibly white person playing a non-white person. Some people can pull it off (not to mention those since this is about miscasting) but the really bad ones that come to mind were Rock Hudson as an Indian in whichever western it was, Peter Lorre as a Chinese ship captain in THEY MET IN BOMBAY, and of course the extremely embarrassing Mickey Rooney as Mr Yunioshi in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. These are just a few that come to mind.

There's always Charlton Heston playing a Mexican in "Touch of Evil." He didn't even try to attempt an accent. It was just a tanned Charlton Heston with a mustache and black hair dye.

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How about Jean Crain in Pinky?   Jean does a fine job of acting but of course doesn't look right for the part.   But at least the studio didn't try to make her look the part with make-up.

 

Yup. I thought that Lena Horne should have played Pinky. She always looked rather pale to me, though maybe not to the point where she could pass for white. But with Ethel Waters in the cast as well they could have made it a musical. ;)

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 Jerome Cowan (I think that's his name; he played the store psychiatrist in Miracle on 34th Street...I tend to mix him up with the guy who played the D.A.).

 

Jerome Cowan played the D.A.; Porter Hall played the quack.

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"I presume you would have had someone like Tyrone Power playing Waldo Lydecker."

 

Oops!  I should have clarified...a lack of sex appeal fits the part, but someone who didn't seem effeminate would have been better.  Laird Cregar could have done it (of course, he was dead at the time)....

 

BLU

Actually, Cregar was still alive, and was almost cast.  Both Zanuck and the first assigned director, Rouben Mammoulian, both wanted him.  The (at first only) producer, Otto Preminger, argued against the casting of Laird Cregar as Lydecker, since he was pretty much typecast as a villain, or at least a heavy, of which his success early that year as Jack the Ripper in THE LODGER only underscored.  Preminger rightfully argued that with Cregar in the role, audiences would guess that he was the murderer, thereby killing the mystery of a whodunit.  Cregar died later that year, after his crash diet for HANGOVER SQUARE (playing yet again a murderous madman), and hopefully, to be cast as a romantic lead.

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Actually, Cregar was still alive, and was almost cast.  Both Zanuck and the first assigned director, Rouben Mammoulian, both wanted him.  The (at first only) producer, Otto Preminger, argued against the casting of Laird Cregar as Lydecker, since he was pretty much typecast as a villain, or at least a heavy, of which his success early that year as Jack the Ripper in THE LODGER only underscored.  Preminger rightfully argued that with Cregar in the role, audiences would guess that he was the murderer, thereby killing the mystery of a whodunit.  Cregar died later that year, after his crash diet for HANGOVER SQUARE (playing yet again a murderous madman), and hopefully, to be cast as a romantic lead.

 

I have to agree that with Cregar in the role,  at least this member of the audience would have known he was the killer.

 

Note that in I Wake Up Screeming the Cregar vibe works well.    I felt that Cregar could be the killer even with him being a cop.   So this increased the whodunit vibe.

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I have to agree that with Cregar in the role,  at least this member of the audience would have known he was the killer.

 

Note that in I Wake Up Screeming the Cregar vibe works well.    I felt that Cregar could be the killer even with him being a cop.   So this increased the whodunit vibe.

What also works with I WAKE UP SCREAMING is that Cregar's.image.had not yet been typecast.as.a heavy. In his earlier films.at.Fox, he was either jovial (HUDSON'S BAY), or witty (BLOOD AND SAND, CHARLEY'S AUNT); I havent seen his roles in two 1940 releases not from Fox. But audiences in 1941 would not have been predisposed to view him as the culprit, as they probably would have in 1944, when LAURA was released.

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"someone who didn't seem effeminate would have been better.   

I agree that Webb's sexuality is slightly problematic here. There is a restaurant scene he has with Dana Andrews and you can tell he is very turned on by Andrews (much more interest with him in that scene than with Tierney in the whole picture). Dana's biographer told me that during production Webb did hit on Andrews (who spurned his advances) and that did not surprise me.

 

In 1945, Tierney and Andrews did a radio version of LAURA with Vincent Price. I have not listened to it yet, but it looks like Price had taken Webb's role.  Nine years later, in 1954, Tierney reprised her role for another radio re-creation of LAURA.  Victor Mature took the Dana Andrews part.

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Yup. I thought that Lena Horne should have played Pinky.

 

Pinky was a hoax. Jeanne Crain was an all-white woman, going back at least 8 or more generations.

 

The treatment of her by the local whites was far more egregious with her being so white looking.

 

They used dark makeup on Ethel Waters.

 

pinky.jpg

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I agree that Webb's sexuality is slightly problematic here. There is a restaurant scene he has with Dana Andrews and you can tell he is very turned on by Andrews (much more interest with him in that scene than with Tierney in the whole picture). Dana's biographer told me that during production Webb did hit on Andrews (who spurned his advances) and that did not surprise me.

 

In 1945, Tierney and Andrews did a radio version of LAURA with Vincent Price. I have not listened to it yet, but it looks like Price had taken Webb's role.  Nine years later, in 1954, Tierney reprised her role for another radio re-creation of LAURA.  Victor Mature took the Dana Andrews part.

I don't believe Andrews and Webb ever worked together again. Coincidence? I think not.

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I don't believe Andrews and Webb ever worked together again. Coincidence? I think not.

Yes.  No coincidence. I wonder if Webb hit on Mark Stevens during the filming of THE DARK CORNER-- that is easily a role Dana could have played.  

 

And speaking of miscasting-- Liberace as a heterosexual lover in SINCERELY YOURS-- receiving the attention (and affection) of Joanne Dru and Dorothy Malone. Major suspension of disbelief required.

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As noted, age is often related to miscasting.  Example: James Stewart as Lindbergh in THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS.

While I've enjoyed this movie many times, and Jimmy is great as always, I'm always aware of his age being wrong, with his obvious toupee and middle-aged face.  (And I say that as someone who possesses the latter.)

As for Cary Grant being in either NINOTCHKA or LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, I agree that he and Audrey Hepburn later demonstrated, in CHARADE, the chemistry they might have had in LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON.  Gary Cooper, sadly, is so far past his prime (and maybe already suffering from the cancer that killed him?) that he seems almost elderly in the role.  But Grant, while also being far older than Hepburn as the character needs to be, was still very handsome and fit at the time the movie was made, looking like an aging roue who could plausibly be bait for a much younger woman.

 

I'm not sure about Grant playing the Melvyn Douglas role in NINOTCHKA, however.  I'm second to none in my admiration for Grant, but at that point in his career, I think he was still developing into the suave, sophisticated "Cary Grant" that he ultimately was known as.  Douglas was already there, fitting perfectly as an overly cynical European.  But who knows -- maybe Grant would have hit the mark, too -- he certainly had it in him, as his later roles showed.

 

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