In the current issue of Preview, the program guide for American Film Institute Theater members, Michael Clark introduces the retrospective series "Star Power" by speculating about how certain movies might have been diminished by outrageous casting choices.
"Imagine, if you will," he writes, "a film version of Philip Barry's 'Holiday' with Marshall Thompson and Joan Vohs instead of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Or 'The Crimson Pirate' with Macdonald Carey."
Pretty stupefying, all right. Nevertheless, many a triumphant piece of casting has been the result of apparent misfortune -- a delay in production or the unavailability of a favored star -- that led to a fortunate substitution. The filmmaking process is extended and capricious. Few first choices ever remain in the picture from inception to completion. As often as not, it's a good thing they didn't.
For example, Gene Hackman was well down the list of candidates for what proved to be an Oscar-winning role in "The French Connection." At one stage of the film's development, Jackie gleason and Jimmy Breslin were considered hotter prospects. There's probably a similar history behind most of the Oscars ever presented.
On the other hand, it might have been fascinating to have Marlon Brando as T. E. Lawrence (a cross between his performances in "The Young Lions" and "Mutiny on the Bounty"?) or Laurence Olivier as Douglas MacArthur. Then there's the material beyond any actor's redemptive powers: Can you image "Hanover Street" being transformed by Kris Kristofferson and Genevieve Bujold or "Ice Station Zebra" by Gregory Peck, David Niven and George Segal?
The matching quiz below is designed to suggest how movie history might have been changed if certain films had been made with the actors or actresses originally considered (among others) for key roles. Score four points for each correct match of a title in the first with the appropriate player or set of players in the second list.
Far-fetched as they may appear in retrospect, all the examples are authentic. These performers really were under consideration for the movies in question once a time. A word of caution: Certain co-starring sets are mildly facetious, combining players who may not have been sought for a production at exactly the same stage of its development. hFor example, Ronald Colman and Lana Turner were in contention for the roles of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara, but not necessarily in the same breath.
If you can identify the performers who ultimately played the roles lost or rejected by the prelimary candidates, award yourself a bonus point for every correct name. For example, if poor "Hanover Street" or "Ice Station Zebra" were among the titles, you could earn five bonus points by knowing that Kristofferson and Bujold were lucky enough to be replaced by Harrison Ford and Lesley-Anne Down in the former, while Peck, Niven and Segal left Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan and Jim Brown to cool their heels (and careers) in the latter.
A couple of helpful hints: One of the movies listed is a playfullly correct match for several sets of players. Award yourself four points each time you match it correctly but only one set of bonus points for identifying its authentic costars. Perfection, a remote possibility, is 150 points: 100 for the matches and 50 for the bonus names. Consider yourself a well-informed moviegoer if you score 75 or above. Good luck. The answers may be found on Page L11. THE MOVIES 1. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" 2. "Jaws" 3. "Gone With the Wind" 4. "Dirty Harry" 5. "Cleopatra" (1963) 6. "In Old Chicago" 7. "All About Eve" 8. "Casablanca" 9. "The Afican Queen" 10. "The wizard of Oz" 11. "The Three Faces of Eve" 12. "All That Jazz" 13. "The Sound of Music" 14. "Last Tango in Paris" 15. "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" 16. "Pal Joey" 17. "Street Boulevard" 18. "The Godfather" 19. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" 20. "From Here to Eternity" THE PLAYERS A. Clark Gable and Jean Harlow B. Jack Lemmon and Marlene Dietrich C. Susan Hayward, Peter Finch and Stepen Boyd D. Marilyn Monroe E. Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Marlon Brando F. Doris Day, Hedy Lamarr and Jeanette MacDonald G. Kirk Douglas H. Sophia Loren, Laurence Olivier and Burt Lancaster I. Richard Dreyfuss J. Peter O'Toole and Peter Sellers K. Sterling Hayden, Charlton Heston and Timothy Bottoms L. Shirely Temple, Buddy Ebsen and W. C. Fields M. Joan Collins, Yul Brynner and Anthony Franciosa N. Frank Sinatra O. Dennis Morgan, Ann Sheridan and Ronald Reagan P. Cary Cooper, Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland, Janet Gaynor, Lionel Barrymore and Lillian Gish Q. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Dominique Sanda R. Mae West and Montgomery Clift S. Bette Davis and David Niven T. Edmond O'Brien, Joan Crawford, Aldo Ray, Eli Wallach and Julie Harris U. Judy Garland V. Brigitte Bardot, Curt Jurgens and Jason Robards W. Laurence Olivier, David Carrdine, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson X. Claudette Colbert, Jeanne Crain and Jose Ferrer Y. Suzy Parker, Noel Coward and Kirk Douglas