1. - Brian Aherne, Sylvia Scarlett, 1935. Director George Cukor - promising she’d get to play the boy she always wanted to be - had Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant as his leads. But the third wheel? RKO’s Thalberg, Pandro Berman, nominated new boy Flynn who, knowing Cukor’s proclivities, opened his fly and produed his “big lollipop.” Cukor, this once, passed. Berman blamed Cukor and Kate for RKO losing a ton of money when Flynn went to Warners. “I don’t know which of you is the more demented diva.”
2. - Leslie Howard, Romeo and Juliet, 1936. Flynn, like Laurence Olivier and Douglas Fairbanks Jr was way too old at 27... and that meant 16 years younger than Howard!
3. - Gary Cooper, The Adventures of Marco Polo, 1938. Doug Fairbanks or Flynn, said director William Wyler who could not visualise Coop playing Polo. Bye bye Wyler.
4. - Cary Grant, The Philadephia Story, 1940. Knowing Katharine Hepburn held the rights, Jack the chief Warner brother, offered to buy her out for $225,000 - and co-star her with Flynn. He had, er, “auditioned” her for Gone With The Wind - and found her wanting.
5. - John Wayne, Reap The Wild Wind, 1942. CB DeMille was a God only unto himself. When he wanted Flynn for Captain Jack Stuart, chief brother Jack Warner told him where to get off...
6. - George Brent, In This Our Life, 1942. Satan’s Angel (as Marlene Dietrich called Flynn), avoided director John Huston’s second film. They worked exceedingly well together on his 21st, The Roots of Heaven, 1958.
7. - Charles Boyer, The Constant Nymph, 1943. “Flynn in modern clothes just doesn't seem to go over,” noted Jack Warner leading to a timely casting change. The film was about Joan Fontaine’s infatuation with a composer at 16 - an unfortunate age given Flynn’s proclivities.
8. - Clark Gable, The Hucksters, 1947. Sore about the scripts offered on his return from the war - this one was “lousy” - Gable dallied so long, production nearly began with Flynn, borrowed from Warners in exchange for William Powell.
9. - Victor Mature, Samson and Delilah, 1949. The Baron, as pals called Flynn, did not need a haircut that month.
10 - Stewart Granger, King Solomon's Mines, 1959. Famous for his UK film, The Seventh Veil, Compton Bennett wanted Flynn and MGM wanted the newly imported Brit. And his white sideburns. Bennett was sacked after the African locations. Granger admits he could have told Metro that James Mason and producer Sydney Box really directed Veil.
11 - Gregory Peck, Captain Horatio Hornblower, 1951. Some films just take longer than others to get rolling... Jack Warner, the Warner’s studio boss, had suggested Flynn as CS Forrester’s nautical hero ten years earlier.
12 - Rock Hudson, Giant, 1955.
13 - James Mason, Lolita, 1962. Cheeky 1958 idea from Stanley Kubrick and producer James B Harris when Mason seemed unavailable for what the London Sunday Express editor called “the filthiest book I have ever read.” As Tuesday Weld commented, Flynn wouldn’t have to act it, he was it. But long gone before the project was even scripted.