Tag Archive: what ever happened to baby jane


The Great Feud

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Never let a good story get in the way of the truth.

I am sure someone has said this in the past but I have no person to attach to this quote. But this is especially true in regard to the latest Ryan Murphy limited run TV show, Feud.

It stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as Hollywood legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis who battled each other for over 30 years.

Both women have won Oscars, both women had ups and downs during their careers. Both women were accused of child abuse by their adult children, although no one will ever top the ‘No Wire Hangers’ tantrum.

Both were gifted actresses known to be temperamental. Bette took the studios to court while Joan hung out in her trailer until a scene was re-written to her liking.

These are the divas that today’s divas look up to and wonder if they can ever be matched.

Yes, these women were difficult. But their talent made them worth it.

Joan CrawfordJoan Crawford earned three Oscar nominations, winning one for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945) about a woman who works hard as a waitress, and later as a restaurant owner, to giver her daughter everything. But there are complications. Her daughter resents the loss of their past life and hate the restaurant that supports them.

It is a role that took guts and determination. Director Michael Curtiz didn’t want her in the role until a screen test proved to him that Crawford was the one for the job. Her hard work slowly changed his mind despite their disagreements. This is one of those movies that is a must see for classic movie fan.

That is also true for Dark Victory (1939) starring Bette Davis. Starring as a socialite who only wants to have fun, Bette must face the fact that she has a tumor on the brain and that her life will be shorter than expected. So what does the girl do? She falls in love with her doctor, flirts with the stable man (Humphrey Bogart), and finds a way to make her last days the best.

It is a thrilling brave performance that is only matched by her performance in All About Eve (1950) in which Davis is an older actress holding on to her place in the world while a young ingenue becomes her assistant and works to take her place. It is a marvelous film in which Davis is fearful and happy and bitter and not afraid to take it to the limit.

Bette Davis All About EveBetter Davis was nominated for ten (10) Oscars, winning two (2). The most important thing about Davis is that she never thought acting was to be small, everything on the screen had to be bigger than life. Maybe Crawford felt the same way although she always wanted to be glamorous and felt that is what her fans expected.

Before I watch the next episode of Feud, I plan on watching some of these older classics to remind me why these two women are so fierce, ferocious, and fabulous.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Advertisements

All About Bette

Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
Last week I talked about Bette Davis and her role in Dark Victory.
It was an incredible movie and her performance keeps it from being melodramatic crap. You see, Bette Davis wasn’t willing to ever give it a part of her effort. She wasn’t willing to simply show up on the set.
Who rocks the sweater and belt ensemble? Bette does!

Who rocks the sweater and belt ensemble? Bette does!

She was one of those actresses who showed up knowing her lines, knowing her character, and being ready to perform. She is now seen as an iconic actress. But I described her to my son as the Meryl Strep of her time. Not because she changed her appearence or accent with each role. But because she came to each role ready to play that person honestly. That is why she was the first actress to receive ten nominations for best actress.

So what made her so great? It might have been her theater training, it might have been her dedication to her craft. It might have been her abborhance for those actors who didn’t take their craft seriously. That is a part of her reasons for hating Joan Crawford and Errol Flynn.
The other part is that Bette Davis was a tough broad. Her life was not always easy with four marriages and three divorces. Her second husband died suddenly and, despite her grief, was forced to work on a movie by Jack Warner. She was reportedly difficult to work with on this particular set, not her usual behavior. Her only excuse was that in being unhappy, she lashed out rather than whine about her situation.
But let me also suggest that you see All About Eve, one of her finer movies towards the end of her Hollywood Glamour days. Once again she is playing a character not easy to like, one who shows her varying emotions of jealousy and insecurity. Here, she stars as a mature actress who has been followed by a young fan. But in one eventful night, that young fan tries to take over her life. It is from this movie that we get the famous line “fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”  This movie would earn her an eighth nomination for Best Actress.
Bette Davis All About Eve
However, the movie that gave her the tenth nomination might be the best known one. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? starred David and her hated rival, Joan Crawford, as two sisters living in an old Hollywood mansion. Davis portrays a character who was popular as a child. She still dresses like a ten year old girl with the heavy curls of the silent era. But Crawford’s character career was starting to take off when a horrible car accident paralyzed the beatiful young woman. Was it caused by Baby Jane who may have been jealous of her sister’s growing fame while her career went away?
This movie in 1962 reminded people of Davis’ power to project the emotions that some of us would rather not delve into. She continued working until the end of her life, putting together screen performances and lecture tours while still hitting the talk shows. Davis knew it wasn’t her looks that got her to Hollywood. She knew she wasn’t the most beautiful of actresses despite being attractive in her own way. It was her can-do spirit, her willingness to take on roles of unlikable characters that made us love her. And while she made acting look effortless, she also wanted to alway make it ‘bigger than life.’
How can you not love a broad like that?
 
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.