May 21 Blood Alley (1955) 1 hr 50 min.
His ship seized by Chinese Communists, American merchant captain Tom Wilder (John Wayne) languishes in prison, but is rescued by local villagers and “shanghaied” into transporting the whole village to Hong Kong on an ancient paddle steamer. Lauren Bacall and Tom Fix co-star.
Robert Mitchum was originally cast as Capt. Wilder, but was fired after he shoved the film’s transportation manager into San Francisco Bay. The director complained to John Wayne (whose company was producing the film) that Mitchum “was on dope, always walking about six inches off the ground,” and said either he or Mitchum had to go. Gregory Peck turned down the role because he found it offensive, and Humphrey Bogart wanted a $500,000 salary that would have put the film over budget. Without a major male star, Warner Bros. threatened to pull out of distributing the film unless Wayne took the role himself—which he did to keep his new production company afloat.