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Victor McLaglen (1896-1959)


  1. Ralph Bellamy, Disorderly Conduct, 1931.      The plan was for a third Quirt and Flagg comedy about the two US Marines WW1 buddies. Edmund Lowe wanted more money as Quirt.  Hello Spence! Then, Victor McLaglen lowered his Flagg. Enter: Ralph Bellamy as Quirt and Flagg became Fay and Manning.  And poor Tracy, in his sixth Fox film, became typed as a comic - until saved by Irving Thalberg at MGM.
  2. Henry Victor, Freaks, 1931.     Director Tod Browning saw McLaglen as Hercules, the circus strong man, falling for Olga Baclanova’s avaricious trapeze artist. The notorious reality-horror film, was attacked on all sides, banned in many US states (and in the UK for 32 years!). Hardly a shock for MGM after its own executives complained about lunching in the same canteen as the cast of real bearded ladies, bird girls, hermaphrodites, human skeletons, midgets, pinheads, Siamese twins. and the limbless Prince Randian striking a match with his face to light his cigarette. (They were moved to a tent outside). The film ruined Browning - until being continually revived as one of the all-time Hollywood classics.
  3. Pat O’ Briern, Laughter in Hell, 1932.   Hollywood gossip hen Louella Parsona promised Victor McLaglen for the chain gang on March 22. But on April 21, the Milwaukee Sentinal, no less, insisted trhe star would be Charles Bickford. It was neither. John Ford was supposed to direct, but the film was made by the dreaded Edward L  Cahn, he who made Ed Wood look good. MHG in New York Times was not impressed.   “Where I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang was real and dramatic, this current contribution is clumsy and doleful.”  (The busiest Canadian in Hollywood, Berton Churchill, was in both).

  4. William  Bendix, The Babe Ruth Story, 1948.  
    “The laugh-by-laugh, tear-by-tear, cheer-by-cheer story of America's most beloved guy...” When it came to biopic the famed baseball star (22 Major League Baseball seasons with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees), George Herman Ruth (1895 -1948) was too ill to play himself.  Rather than risk a newcomer, producer-director Roy Del Ruth checked real - and fat actors. From Jack Carson (Warner Bros  would not loan him),  Paul Douglas and Dennis Morgan to…  Orson Welles!!! Babe however, also aka The Bambino and The Sultan of Swat, chose Bendix. He owed him!  As a kid in the 20s, Bendix was a Yankee Stadium bat boy and got  what The Babe wanted before one game - 15 hot dogs and sodas. Naturally, he was then in no condition to play ball. The Yankees lost. And Bendix was fired!  Ruth died 21 days after attending the July 26th, 1948 premiere. Bendix didn’t resemble him until wearing a new nose.  (How Welles would have loved that).

  5. Broderick Crawford,  Seven Sinners, 1939.       Big Brod suddenly replaced big Mac in big  John Wayne’s first big  romp (of three) with Marlene Dietrich.  
  6. Preston Foster, Guadalcanal Diary, 1943.     Fox tried every which way to get McLaglen aboard. Somewhere… He was first announced for Father Donnelly on April 2, 1943.   Then…  
  7. Roy Roberts, Guadalcanal Diary, 1943.     … by the time, Lewis Seiler started directing, McLaglen was to be Captain James Cross…
  8. Minor Watson, Guadalcanal Diary, 1943.    …or even, Colonel Wallace E Grayson. Finally, McLaglen was not in the the WWII classic at all.
  9. Tyrone Power, King of the Khyber Rifles, 1953.      Having been in the original, 1928 version (The Black Watch), was one  reason why McLaglen was chosen for the re-make, first planned in 1941.  The greater motivation was Fox suddenly viewing the project as a new chapter of Wee Willie Winkie, McLaglen’s 1936 triumph with, of course, Shirley Temple.  Power hated the film, one of his last at Fox. 

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