Discussion in 'Movies' started by ClassyCo, Mar 15, 2017.
Joan Crawford turns 114 years old today!
Bette Davis turns 109 today!
I watched a documentary film on Crawford earlier this week called Joan Crawford: The Hollywood Greats, which was made in 1978, shortly after her death. It spoke extensively about her film career (naturally), and went into some detail about her parenting skills and her rivalry with Davis.
At the end of the film, it was said that Crawford made her share of bad films, but sometimes the worse the material, the better she was. However, it was noted, this wasn't because she was a fine actress, because she wasn't, but she was good at being what she was---Joan Crawford, the Movie Star. Honestly, I think that sums up Crawford quite nicely. Her greatest role was, undoubtedly, being Joan Crawford, and that's probably the role she took most seriously. She cared deeply about her fans, and I don't know if any other star took that role as seriously as she did.
In watching FX's Feud: Bette & Joan, which is ending its run next Sunday night, I have become more and more enthused by the rivalry surrounding Davis and Crawford. Personally, I think they could have worked out their differences and actually been professional actresses had the publicity department not wanted to "cash in" on their obvious mutual disliking. From the dramatics placed before us in this very well-written series, I think this was actually their intentions, but their hatred was "feed" so much that it just became more vicious and noticeable.
In saying that, I think both actresses were jealous of each other. Crawford, first, I'm sure was always jealous that Davis was considered the greater talent, while Davis, whether or not she would admit it, was probably just as ticked that Crawford was always considered the greater beauty. Now I understand that this may not be the most solid reasons for any allegedly genuine hatred, but I'm pretty positive that was at the root of it all.
It seems Crawford wanted to be both a great beauty and a great actress. Davis, too, wanted to be both a fine actress and an appreciated beauty.
Everyone pretty much sized it up that same way: reciprocated jealousy.
But because Bette was the one woman in Hollywood with even more stature than Crawford, Joan made attempts to create a "friendship" (and was instrumental in getting BABY JANE made as a vehicle for them both) but Bette had no interest in reaching down to take Crawford's opportunistic hand, because she knew that's what it was.
And as director Vincent Sherman said, chiming in with the commentary from others over the decade, "They were sisters under the skin."
Joan apparently had more of a conscious sense of this while Bette chose to block it out.
But any number of people said Joan was the more charmingly solicitous -- but darker -- personality. Bette's been called a "benign volcano" while Crawford was "deadlier." And one would assume it to be true.
Adell Aldrich said her father told the actress to give her daughter a hard time because she was new, to sort of break her in. Adell said Bette complied but with a wink, but that Crawford "was quite evil about it."
But Crawford, who knew Bette was not going to be a picnic on HUSH... HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE after all the Oscar stuff, was fool for walking off the set no matter the dynamic. The film was going to be an A-lister regardless, so Joan feigns illness and then goes and does yet another William Castle shlocktastic mess.
I mean, seriously, Joan??
Yes, I constantly wonder if the "battle" (if I can really be called that) was so bad that Crawford just couldn't stand to go on. I think there were a lot of reasons she chose not to stick in there. But I think she felt she was going to be upstaged again, with all the publicity surrounding Davis having the "flashier" role again.
I personally think Crawford just didn't want to bear it again. On the other hand, I think she was foolish for walking away from the project, and I am of the belief that she would have held her own against Davis in Sweet Charlotte had she went ahead with it. Perhaps it could have saved her from doing the mediocre films that she did thereafter. And then we would have two Davis-Crawford hag horrors to treasure indefinitely.
And I've multiple stories about Crawford's and Davis' relationship with younger actresses, or other actresses in general. I know Gloria DeHaven is a great defender of Crawford as an actress and a lady, consistently stating that Crawford was always nice to her, while Arlene Dahl remembers Crawford being jealous of her and ruining her white gown during a dinner party by spilling wine on it. Likewise, I have just as many stories about Davis. Supposedly, she and June Allyson became close, although Allyson was initially "horrified" by her, and it seems Davis was always very admiral of Olivia de Havilland's work. I recall seeing an interview of Davis and de Havilland in which Davis said (in short) that it was unfortunate that de Havilland didn't get more respect during her heyday, but she was just too beautiful to always get the meaty roles she deserved. On the other hand, Davis didn't get along with Celeste Holm, nor was she particularly happy that Anne Baxter talked her away into being placed under the Best Actress (not Best Supporting) Oscar bill for the All About Eve nominations.
No one is going to be liked by everyone.
Oh, yes, Arlene Dahl's description of Crawford's behavior is hysterical to hear and tends to ring true. Even Joan Fontaine, of all people, jumped up and screamed at Crawford, "You bitch, you did that on purpose!"
Good times. So soapy.
Anyway, but in trying to bring down CHARLOTTE (instead of just asking to be released) it guaranteed no major studio would risk another Crawford venture, and they didn't. Hence, BABY JANE was Joan's final significant picture.
Has anyone heard Bruce Dern's recent radio claim (and was this referred to in the FUED miniseries?) that after Olivia DeHavilland was hired, Joan suddenly showed up on the set, fully dressed as Miriam, said "Well, hello, Olivia -- what are you doing here?" To which Davis, sitting nearby, sucked a drag on her cigarette and sneered, "She's playing your part, Kuntt!"
Crawford fanboys insist Dern made the story up only recently, as no one had ever heard it before. Either way, it's fun to think it happened.
I bought the Whales of August at the weekend with Bette Davis and Lilian Gish and also featuring Vincent Price
they just dont make movie stars like them anymore
Bette looks old and ill in the movie and plays the more bitter and negative sister
I just want to move to Maine for the summer!
still have this article on photobucket and posted before the foum crash/disappearance!
love BF x
I recorded The Whales of August when it came on TCM some time last year, and I watched it. I must say I was somewhat disappointed. Having read a lot about the film, and most of it was positive, I was expecting a far more moving story, but that's not really what I got. It wasn't that it was bad, but it was good, either; it was quite simply bland, and I don't have any intentions of watching it again.
Yeah, WHALES is stiffly one-note in a very '80s sort of way. It mostly doesn't work.
And I always want the movie to end on Bette's ravaged nocturnal close-up as she rocks, sloooooooow fade to black.
End of movie. End of career. End of Bette.
I don't need them going down to see the whales. We already saw that in ON GOLDEN POND. We know what that coda is all about, so don't do it.
I have to say, that Feud is an interesting behind the scenes account.I hope that they decide that season 3 will be between Olivia DeHavilland and Joan Fontaine and the Oscars.Let's hope.
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