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If the Other Guy Isn't Jack Nicholson, I've Got the Part: Hollywood Tales of Big Breaks, Bad Luck, and Box-Office Magic [Hardcover]

Ron Base
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 1994
From long-ago casting decisions--Vivien Leigh over Bette Davis in Gone with the Wind--to the creation of present-day screen icons--Sharon Stone won the role in Basic Instinct after Geena Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer refused it--this fascinating narrative will surprise and delight film buffs who think they already know the history of Tinsel Town. 24 pages of photos.

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Often what seems obvious about a star's or movie's fame is the result of chance or whim. The search for Scarlett O'Hara that contributed to the legend of Gone with the Wind owed as much to David O. Selznick's indecision and Jack Warner's and Bette Davis' intransigence as to any difficulty in finding the right actress. The discovery of Bogart's tough-guy appeal owes much to George Raft turning down several roles that Bogie took and ran with. Base reexamines many such familiar Hollywood stories from the perspective of how casting decisions affected the finished movies and their appeal. Who gets offered a part and who has the foresight to accept a part have as much to do with the creation of great movies as technical accomplishment and good scripting, and careers are made and broken in the casting. In crisp, well-researched prose, Base's eminently readable and informative film history imparts valuable insight into the workings of the Hollywood star machine from the 1930s to the present. Add this book to your movie-book shelves! Mike Tribby

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the neglected gems of movie trivia Oct. 15 2002
Format:Hardcover
One of my favorite games of movie trivia is trying to imagine what certain classic, beloved films would be like if they had been made with an entirely different cast. Often times, the results range between the horrifying and the ludicrous (for example, Lana Turner as Scarlett O'Hara and Jeffrey Lynn as Rhett Butler, teaming up to make Gone with the Wind the dullest Civil War epic ever) and occasionally, you're forced to admit that a film like the Fugitive probably would have pretty much been the same rather the lead was played by Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin. And sometimes, if you're lucky, you imagine a film that may be different from the classic the world knows and loves but, at least to the mind's eye, is just as fascinating -- The Graduate starring Charles Grodin, Doris Day, Sally Field, and Ronald Reagan or Terms of Endearment featuring a comeback supporting performance from none other than Burt Reynolds.
These fun, intriguing, and often infuriating speculations are what lie at the heart of Ron Base's unjustly neglected film book, If the Other Guy Isn't Jack Nicholson, I've Got the Part. (The title is an actual quote from Reynolds who either lost or gave up roles in films ranging from Terms of Endearment to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to our Mr. Nicholson. After reading this book, one wonders what Boogie Nights might had been like if Reynolds had passed on that...) Starting from Hollywood's golden age and the days of the star systems and ending with the modern-day, often interchangeable blockbusters of today, Base writes a lively, humorous, and always fascinating account of the struggles and the intrigue that went into casting some of the best pictures to come out of Hollywood's studios.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good May 21 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Interesting book. And Ron Base gets it right a lot where others don't. The unspoken truth when saying, "Burt Reynolds turned down TERMS OF ENDEARMENT" etc., is that THE MATERIAL IS THE THING. Stars are interchangeable!!!! This book gets that right. God knows how many millions studios would save on star fees if they'd get that through their heads! (Only George Lucas said paying Jim Carrey $20 million is stupidity. Carrey made $20 million for THE MAJESTIC, which was still one of the biggest flops in history.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! Feb. 12 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
One of the best books I've read about movies. It is well-written and fascinating. The book is broken up into chapters that deal with certain episodes, so it's easy reading. Although the material written about isn't life-or-death stuff, it is interesting to contemplate Travolta having had taken certain parts, or Stallone having taken certain parts, etc. Great book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the neglected gems of movie trivia Oct. 15 2002
By Jeffrey Ellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One of my favorite games of movie trivia is trying to imagine what certain classic, beloved films would be like if they had been made with an entirely different cast. Often times, the results range between the horrifying and the ludicrous (for example, Lana Turner as Scarlett O'Hara and Jeffrey Lynn as Rhett Butler, teaming up to make Gone with the Wind the dullest Civil War epic ever) and occasionally, you're forced to admit that a film like the Fugitive probably would have pretty much been the same rather the lead was played by Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin. And sometimes, if you're lucky, you imagine a film that may be different from the classic the world knows and loves but, at least to the mind's eye, is just as fascinating -- The Graduate starring Charles Grodin, Doris Day, Sally Field, and Ronald Reagan or Terms of Endearment featuring a comeback supporting performance from none other than Burt Reynolds.
These fun, intriguing, and often infuriating speculations are what lie at the heart of Ron Base's unjustly neglected film book, If the Other Guy Isn't Jack Nicholson, I've Got the Part. (The title is an actual quote from Reynolds who either lost or gave up roles in films ranging from Terms of Endearment to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to our Mr. Nicholson. After reading this book, one wonders what Boogie Nights might had been like if Reynolds had passed on that...) Starting from Hollywood's golden age and the days of the star systems and ending with the modern-day, often interchangeable blockbusters of today, Base writes a lively, humorous, and always fascinating account of the struggles and the intrigue that went into casting some of the best pictures to come out of Hollywood's studios. He covers the famous search to find the perfect Scarlett, the comical saga of finding the perfect actors to bring the Graduate's story to life (and yes -- Day, Field, Grodin, and even Ron Reagan were all serious possibilities at one point of time), the birth of the Corleone Family, and even explains how a little-known Sharon Stone ended up with the "honor" of exposing herself to the world in Basic Instinct.
Along the way, the book manages to provide a treasure trove of little known trivia and anecdote. As well, by showing us how the faces of Hollywood's ideal leading stars changed (basically going from suave Clark Gable to awkward Dustin Hoffman and eventually ending up with the hulking likes of Arnie and Stallone), Base provides an interesting and entertaining look at the way American society views itself has been changed and transformed over the course of the 20th century. This is a wonderful, fun book that will be enjoyed by anyone who ever watched Jack Nicholson on screen and thought to himself, "Gee, I wish they'd gotten Burt Reynolds for that role." Luckily, the book can enjoyed by the rest of us, too.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! Feb. 12 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One of the best books I've read about movies. It is well-written and fascinating. The book is broken up into chapters that deal with certain episodes, so it's easy reading. Although the material written about isn't life-or-death stuff, it is interesting to contemplate Travolta having had taken certain parts, or Stallone having taken certain parts, etc. Great book.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good May 21 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Interesting book. And Ron Base gets it right a lot where others don't. The unspoken truth when saying, "Burt Reynolds turned down TERMS OF ENDEARMENT" etc., is that THE MATERIAL IS THE THING. Stars are interchangeable!!!! This book gets that right. God knows how many millions studios would save on star fees if they'd get that through their heads! (Only George Lucas said paying Jim Carrey $20 million is stupidity. Carrey made $20 million for THE MAJESTIC, which was still one of the biggest flops in history.)
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