Friday, June 14, 2013

The Skinny: In An Alternate Universe

We love classic movies. TCM is in our top 3 favorite cable channels, and we love to catch Robert Osbourne's introductions. We're addicted to the trivia behind the movies that we adore. So, I started thinking about those big, classic, well-known films on our list, and the actors that made them special. It turns out that a lot of the movies, and their now-iconic leading actors, could have been a lot different.  It all comes down to timing and casting, darling.

For example, it was circulating online the other day that Cleopatra originally had a different female lead. Think about it. Can you really imagine anyone other than Liz Taylor as Cleopatra? But it was originally supposed to be Joan Collins. If she had actually kept this gig, then who knows if the Burton-Taylor saga would have turned out the same way...or happened at all. And would the grand Ms. Collins have ended up on Dynasty? The world may never know.... (Even weirder, Audrey Hepburn and Susan Hayward were also considered for the role, and at one point, Alfred Hitchcock was asked to step in as director. He made The Birds instead.)
Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra

So, here are some other switcharoos that made movie history.

On the Waterfront (1954)
We all know Marlon Brando as the face of this movie--
Marlon Brando, On the Waterfront

but originally, his role was offered to this guy:
Frank Sinatra

Planet of the Apes (1968)
Charlton Heston has a few iconic roles on his resume, and this is one of them.
Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes

But, the film might have happened with someone different in his place (which would have made it much more bearable, in my opinion):
Rod Taylor!

To Have and Have Not (1944)
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart infamously fell in love while making this movie.
Bogey and Bacall, To Have and Have Not

It turns out that another actress in the film was, shall we say, demoted to a lesser role when Howard Hawks decided that he wanted Lauren Bacall (for more than her acting skills, they say). Dolores Moran's place in the plot shrank, and Bacall's character became the lead. To make it worse, Hawks was actually having an affair with Moran at the time. So, he kind of stabbed his mistress in the back. While they were still working together. So that he could try for another mistress. Who was also working with them. Hmmm.... I wonder if he actually thought that was a good plan.
Dolores Moran

Casablanca (1942)
There are a few changes that happened for this movie. And one definite non-change: Bogey was the only one considered for his role, because it was a perfect union.

But, Ilsa, his lady love...
Ingrid Bergman

could have been this lady:
Hedy Lamarr

AND, although Dooley Wilson's role in the film is very secondary, "Play it again, Sam" is one of the most famous lines of all time--and it never even happened! (It's actually like this: He says: "You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can take it, I can take it--so play it!". Ilsa says "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By"'.) But anyway, people remember Sam from that movie, and Sam was almost...A LADY! To be played by one of these:
Lena Horne

Ella Fitzgerald

The Godfather (1972)
Not one of our favorite films, but it's still on the Top 100 list, so here goes.... Can you really imagine this guy:
Marlon Brando, The Godfather

being played by one of these?
Orson Welles
Edward G. Robinson

Ernest Borgnine

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz

Or Dorothy?
Shirley Temple

Psycho (1960)
Marion, so classically played by Janet Leigh...
Janet Leigh, Psycho

Could you really imagine Laurey from Oklahoma!  in that infamous shower scene? Really?
Shirley Jones

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Imagine the desert. The sun is hot, the wind is blowing--now look into his eyes....
Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia

And try to recapture that feeling with one of these fellows:
Marlon Brando

Anthony Perkins

The Graduate (1967)
Dustin Hoffman is so cute.
Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate

And so is this guy, but that movie wouldn't have been quite as wonderful with him as Benjamin.
Robert Redford

Gone With the Wind (1939)
This one is a biggie. Allow me to take a deep breath...

Let us begin with Rhett Butler.
Clark Gable, Gone With the Wind

Who could have been played by:
Gary Cooper

Errol Flynn

(Gossip! Clark Gable only took the part when the studio agreed to a $50,000 raise, which he used to divorce his wife so that he could marry Carole Lombard.)

Now, we move on to Scarlett's sister, Carreen, played by Ann Rutherford.
Ann Rutherford

But the studio really wanted her (she was busy with a wizard somewhere...):
Judy Garland

Scarlett O'Hara, one of the most iconic movie characters of all time:
Vivien Leigh as Scarlett

Came from a long line of casting calls and screen tests with these babes: Lucille Ball, Joan Crawford, Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Paulette Goddard, Katharine Hepburn, Norma Shearer, and Barbara Stanwyck, among others. That's too many pictures for a blog post, but try to imagine Katharine Hepburn in that movie. Just try.

Who else was originally supposed to be in this movie? These guys:
The KKK!

(We can see why they were written out)

And, last, but certainly not least--possibly the biggest decision made on this set....

It was 1939, after all, and the Hollywood Production Code restricted the use of certain words, so the infamous, iconic, #1 most famous movie line of all time:

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"

Was originally going to be one of these:
-Frankly, my dear, I don't give a hoot!
-Frankly, my dear, it makes my gorge rise!
-Frankly, my dear, my indifference is boundless!
-Frankly, my dear, nothing could interest me less!

The MPAA passed an amendment to the code, just in the nick of time, so that the line could remain without breaking the rules. Just imagine what the world would be like if people went around shouting "It makes my gorge rise!" Heehee.

*Information from

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