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Louis Jourdan (1921-2015)

  1. Lyle Bettger,  The Greatest Show on Earth, 1951.      Three years before CB De Mille made his old dream of a circus film (and inspired a six-year-old Phoenix kid named Spielberg to make movies),  the Gone With The Wind producer David O Selznick planned risking $6m on a big top number named after the slogan of the Ringling Bros circus. The DOS line-up would have featured Jourdan, Joseph Cotten, Jennifer Jones, Dorothy McGuire, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Shirley Temple and Alida Valli.  Obviously the DeMille  epic had a different script, but it’s safe to surmise  that the characters would have been much the same… trapeze stars, lion-tamer, elephant girl, circus boss.
  2. Cameron Mitchell, Les Miserables, 1951.M’sieur Smoothie from Paris was first announced by director Lewis Milestone for Marius in the French classic. Until someone realised he’d be the sole Frenchman in the cast. Brits Michael Rennie and Robert Newton were Valjean and Javert.
  3. Vincent Price, Son of Sinbad, 1953.     Suddenly, Omar Khayym - Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer - came from St Louis and not Marseille as the RKO origibnal line-up of Keith Andes, Jourdan and Ursula Thiess churned into Dale Robertson, Price and Sally Forrest. All shot in… Superscope.
  4. Marlon Brando, Désirée, 1964.      Or Daisy Rae as Brando insisted on calling her… Jourdan. Montgomery Clift  and Jay Robinson were early Fox notions for Napoleon. Until Brando’s agents offered a sweet deal. Marlon would turn emperor if Fox would forget its $2m suit against him for refusing The Egyptian   in 1953.   Jourdan actually read the “script.” The New York Times’ cryptic  critic Bosley Crowther complained about Brando’s “fancy (and sometimes fatuous) facade.”
  5. Philippe Noiret, La vie de Chateau (US: A Matter of Resistance), France,  1966..    “His nose is too big,” said realisateur Jean-Paul Rappeneau when Noiret was suggested by one of the writers, future director Claude Sautet, to play the gentleman-farmer (fast becoming the actor’s role off-screen). Rappeneau  was dreaming of Jourdan, due to his handsome looks and his Hollywood plus Jacques Becker experience.... until finding  Noiret’s talent  was bigger than  his nose.
  6. Rossano Brazzi, The Adventurers,1969. A  last minute change to the Italian  Brazzi from the French Jourdan as Baron de Coyne, cutting his wastrel son off without a cent for spending too much time (and money) alongside the hero and his insatiable taste for fast cars - and women to match. UK director Lewis Gilbert (better at James Bondage) agreeed with the general consensus that his film was… terrible!  
  7. Jean-Pierre Aumont, La nuit americaine/Day For Night, France, 1973.   Unavailable - or unimpressed - when realisateur François Truffaut offered him the role of the veteran movie star, proving to be gay, in this Oscar-winning hommage to  film-making - hated, naturally, by his New Wave colleague  Jean-Luc Godard,    and loved, unreservedly,  by almost everyone else as The Movie about the joys of movie-making.
  8. Michael Lonsdale, Moonraker, 1979.
  9. Cesar Romero, Falcon Crest, TV, 1985-1988.     Three other suave movie kings were also looked at for the billionaire Greek shipping magnate Peter Stavros (involved with lead harridan Jane Wyman for 50 episodes): Jourdan,  Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Gregory Peck.

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