Friday, 8 July 2011

BITCHES BREW: NASTY JOAN CRAWFORD / BETTE DAVIS FUED REKINDLED IN MONTREAL!


Crawford and Davis make-believe on the set of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

(July 8) Hollywood’s most notorious feud  between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford peaked in 1962 after the two Hollywood veterans – viciously competitive in real life – were signed up to appear onscreen together for the first time in the classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, a chilling story about two former film stars living a lonely existence in their Hollywood mansion.

While Bette Davis’ character torments the bedridden Joan Crawford in the film, off the set, just to needle Crawford – who was married to the CEO of Pepsi Cola at that time – Davis had a Coca Cola machine installed in her dressing room.

Bugs visits Houmas House in Louisiana
For a scene in which Bette had to drag Joan across the floor, Joan filled her pockets with rocks. Despite their petty insults and jealousies, the two actresses were described as consummate professionals, always remembering their lines and always turning up on the set on time.

Baby Jane enjoyed rave reviews and widespread acclaim, with Davis nominated for a Best Actress Award at the Oscars. But Crawford was not, and so called all the other nominated actresses, offering to accept their awards on the night if they won. Unbelievably, they all agreed and on Oscar night when Anne Bancroft won for Miracle Worker, Crawford accepted the award to great applause.

 “I almost dropped dead!” Davis said afterwards. “I was paralysed with shock. To deliberately upstage me like that – her behaviour was despicable!”

So when it came time to director Robert Aldrich’s 1964 Baby Jane sequel, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Bette Davis and Olivia De Havilland successfully plotted to rid the production of Crawford.

According to Turner Classic Movies, Crawford worked only four days, then quit the film, claiming she was ill. On set Crawford was treated terribly by Davis. However, Crawford can still be seen in the film. There is a long shot at the beginning of the movie, when Miriam gets out of the taxi upon her arrival at the Hollis plantation, that actually shows the back of Joan Crawford's head and not de Havilland's.

Incidentally, in 2008, I spent an afternoon at the “Hollis” plantation, which in n real life is the famed (and haunted) Houmas House in Louisiana, protopype for Tara in Gone With The Wind, and whose livingroom purchased by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy now sits in the White House. When I was there, I visited the Bette Davis room (where she slept during production) and – I swear – a ghost slammed her bedroom door shut behind me.

What’s New Orleans without a good ghost story?

Anyway, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is just one of the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford movies being screened over 16 days (July 8 – 23) at Montreal's Cinema du Parc.

Other Crawford titles being screened are Ninotchka, The Women, Mildred Pierce, Humoresque, Possesed, Hohnny Guitar and Grand Hotel.

Other Bette Davis movies being screened are Jezebel, Dark Victory, The Letter and All About Eve.

And the Greta Garbo movies being screened are Mata Hari, Two-Faced Women, Queen Christina, Anna Karenina, Camille, as well as the aforementioned Ninotchka and Grand Hotel.

This is a rare opportunity to discover these talented actresses on the big screen. Admission per film is a whopping $6. Surf to www.cinemaduparc.com for dates and time.

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