|Smug murderer Tom Bannerman (Kevin McCarthy, right) taunts crusading Judge Thorne (Joel McCrea) in Stranger on Horseback.|
Actor Kevin McCarthy passed away on September 11, 2010 at age 96. His film career began with an Oscar nomination for his first major big-screen role in 1951’s Death of a Salesman, and by 1956 included the key performance in a defining – and enduring – sci-fi movie of the era, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In between, in 1954, he visited Sedona to film Stranger on Horseback. Sedona Monthly spoke to him in July 2006 about the film and excerpts from that interview can be found in Arizona’s Little Hollywood. Here are a couple of things he told us that didn’t make it into the book.
KEVIN MCCARTHY I was so glad I did [Stranger on Horseback]. I got to know [lead actor Joel] McCrea, he was very gracious to me. I remember he called a producer at Fox about me [getting a part] in a film he knew about. He recommended me. [Co-star] John Carradine was something – a lot of stories he told. My agent then was Ingo Preminger, [film director] Otto's brother, and he was as nice as Otto was unnice [laughs]. Ingo, who passed away just recently, within the past month or so [Ingo Preminger died on June 7, 2006], he said, well, Mr. McCrea is recommending you for a part in a film at Fox, I was working for a Fox subsidiary at the time, and so I went and talked to the people at Fox. And they said [to Ingo], “No, no! McCarthy? No, we don't think he's right.”
So, Ingo says, “What do you mean he's not right? Joel McCrea thinks he’s terrific.”
“Yes, but he didn't get the girl.”
“What do you mean he didn't get the girl?”
“He didn't get the girl in Death of a Salesman.”
And Ingo says, “There isn't any girl in Death of a Salesman!”
“Just the same, he didn't get her.”
They’d decided I wasn't the romantic type. So I didn't get the job.
SEDONA MONTHLY: You mentioned that you weren’t familiar with Stranger on Horseback director Jacques Tourneur prior to working with him, but what did you think of him when you began working with him?
Well, I guess I didn't think much against him. And I didn't think, Gosh, this guy's brilliant. He was a worker there and we were all working together, and trying to make the most of it. I haven't seen the film in a long time. I didn't know at the time that he was a famous French director – I was pretty much a new guy, it was my second, maybe third picture, I did Drive a Crooked Road (1954) with Mickey Rooney, and Stranger on Horseback it seems to me was maybe the next one.