Classic Screen Tests: What could have been


Can you imagine anyone besides Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable as the iconic Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind?” Would “Singing in Rain” be one of the best musicals of all time if Gene Kelly had not replaced the originally cast Howard Keel? Would Maureen O’Hara have given a better performance than Deborah Kerr in “The King and I”? If Claudette Colbert had portrayed Margo Channing in “All about Eve” instead of Bette Davis would the film have still garnered 14 Oscar nominations? Imagine the sharp contrast of Marilyn’s Monroe’s Holly Golightly, to the actual performance given by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Can you believe that all these questions are facts? Paulette Goddard and Gary Cooper were the top choices for “Gone with the Wind,” Claudette Colbert was pulled from “All about Eve” due to a back injury right before filming began, and Maureen O’Hara was released from “The King and I” because Richard Rogers said  “No pirate queen is going to play my Anna!”  These instances are just a small example of something that happened in Hollywood all the time. Someone would be offered the part of a lifetime, and they would turn it down to make a flop (Rock Hudson turned down “Ben-Hur” to make “A Farewell to Arms”). Or it would be the studio that had the flop on their hands when they would pass on an actor who could have turned a dud into box office gold (What films would Ingrid Bergman have starred in if she had not been shunned by US studios for almost a decade). Whatever the case, I find it quite enjoyable to watch old screen tests of classic films with cast’s that could have been. Let me share some of these gems I’ve found with you…

“Gone with the Wind” Screen Tests

Judy Garland was supposed to play the lead in “Annie Get Your Gun”

Marilyn Monroe was fired from “Something’s Gotta Give” which was later changed to the title “Move Over Darling” with Doris Day in the starring role

Vivien Leigh tested for Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” but lost to Joan Fontaine

Walter Matthau tested for “The Seven Year Itch” but 20th Century Fox was unwilling to take a risk on a newcomer (Screen test @5:15)

Andy Williams tested for the part of Jerry Dundee in “State Fair” but lost to Bobby Darin 

Judy Garland was cast in “Valley of the Dolls” but was fired and replaced by Susan Hayward when she came to the set drunk  

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