This morning a friend sent an excerp Xxxx t of Paul Benedict Rowan‘s “Making Ryan’s Daughter: The Myths, Madness and Mastery” (New Island, 7.1.20). It had appeared in a 7.19.20 issue of The Independent.

What’s wrong with Ryan’s Daughter? Lean’s decision to cast the over-rated Christopher Jones, whom he impulsively decided upon after failing to sign Marlon Brando for the role.

Jones played a British Army officer (Major Randolph Doryan) whom Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles) has a torrid affair with while married to a local school teacher, Charles Shaughnessy (Robert Mitchum).

I have always felt that Ryan’s Daughter is beautifully made and altogether half of a very good film. It is one-quarter spoiled, unfortunately, by Jones’ lifeless performance and one-quarter spoiled by John Mills‘ village idiot.

Summary: Jones’ performance and general professional manner was so stiff and unresponsive that Lean, Miles and Mitchum decided that drugging him with valium was the only way to solve matters.

Mitchum had hashish parties and imported women for what sounded like orgies. Miles became infatuated with the married Mitchum and eventually chased him back to Los Angeles, breaking up her marriage to the multiple Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Bolt.

And all this after Lean lost Marlon Brando at the last minute to play the lead and cast Jones instead, who had a nervous breakdown during production, not knowing he was being drugged. Post-filming Jones returned to LA and promptly quit acting.

Jones was living in Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski’s guest house on their rented Cielo Drive property. and claimed to have had an affair with Tate. She was murdered by Charles Manson followers during filming, which devastated Jones.

Miles and Jones grew to dislike one another, leading to trouble when filming the love scenes. Jones was engaged to Olivia Hussey, and said he was not attracted to Miles. He even refused to rehearse the forest love scene with her, which prompted Miles to conspire with Lean and Mitchum on the valium thing.

It was Mitchum who settled on the idea of drugging Jones by sprinkling an unspecified substance daily on his cereal. Mitchum overdosed Jones, however, and the actor was nearly catatonic during the love scene.