About Rex Harrison, cont'd.

Although 20th Century Fox Studios knew they wanted Rex Harrison under contract, they didn't quite know what to do with him once they had him.  He wasn't a Hollywood "type." His forté had been a particularly British form of sophisticated comedy; his style wasn't like another British import's, Cary Grant, and certainly nothing like other top stars of the day, Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart or Spencer Tracy.

Physically Rex was perceived as unconventional as well: tall and lanky, with that long face and hooded eyes, was he really leading-man material? Yet there had already been a very enthusiastic feminine response to his British movies that were distributed in the U.S., and a nickname, Sexy Rexy, was being bandied about. So, even if studio executives couldn't see it yet, female movie-goers weren't having any problem at all!

However, the studio's choices for Rex's first two movie roles do seem rather odd. Far from drawing-room comedy, he was given the parts of an Oriental potentate, and the ghost of a sea captain...and yet, in both movies Rex was a critical and popular success and both films were box office hits.

Anna and the King of Siam (1946) with Irene Dunne


The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) with Gene Tierney

 

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