Tags: Hollywood | James Cagney | roles | missed

James Cagney: Roles He Missed That Other Actors Made Famous

By    |   Sunday, 24 Jan 2016 06:09 PM

Once the silver screen’s top mobster in films such as 1931’s “The Public Enemy,” James Cagney “set the standard for gangster roles,” The New York Times said. But Cagney also won acclaim proving his versatility in a range of characters, and he didn’t take every part that came along.

During his days as a Warner Bros. contractee (1932-42), Cagney “and fellow-rebel Bette Davis both turned down so many roles they became known as Warners’ ‘King and Queen of Suspensions,’ each of them being suspended without pay every time they would refuse a part,” movie host and actor Robert Osborne recounted on Turner Classic Movies.

Here are some roles Cagney missed that made other actors famous.

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“My Fair Lady”
The biggest loss for moviegoers, Osborne said, was when Cagney turned down the role of Eliza Doolittle’s rascally father, Alfred Doolittle, in the 1964 film version of “My Fair Lady.” Cagney had officially retired three years earlier and didn’t want to come out of retirement for the part. The role went to Stanley Holloway instead.

“The Godfather”
Being retired is the same reason Cagney turned down the offer to play Vito Corleone in Paramount’s 1972 “The Godfather,” Osborne recounted, “even after he was given a blank check to write in any amount it would take for him to say ‘yes.’”

“High Sierra”
Cagney and other established stars such as Edward Robinson, Paul Muni, and George Raft, all turned down the gangster role in “High Sierra.” They ended up doing Humphrey Bogart a favor, author Joe Williams said in his book, “Hollywood Myths: The Shocking Truths Behind Film’s Most Incredible Secrets.” “Soon after that film won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1942, Bogart became the highest-paid actor in the world,” Williams wrote.

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Cagney didn’t let the parts he missed worry him. Though he played jubilant characters in films like “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” he stood out for being a believable tough guy. He had “irresistible charm” author Kenneth Tynan wrote in 1952, saying, “Cagney, even with a submachine gun hot in hand and corpses piling at his ankles, can still persuade many people that it was not his fault.”

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Once the silver screen’s top mobster in films such as 1931’s “The Public Enemy,” James Cagney “set the standard for gangster roles,” The New York Times said. But Cagney didn’t take every part that came along.
James Cagney, roles, missed
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2016-09-24
Sunday, 24 Jan 2016 06:09 PM
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