Bette Davis vs. Joan Crawford

Who do you prefer?

  • Bette Davis

    Votes: 14 50.0%
  • Joan Crawford

    Votes: 3 10.7%
  • Both

    Votes: 9 32.1%
  • Neither

    Votes: 2 7.1%

  • Total voters
    28

Snarky's Ghost

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And to think, two years earlier, she hadn't been able to convincingly play herself on THE LUCY SHOW.
Drunk.... Folks said that by the mid-to-late-'60s, Joan's drinking was now affecting her at work.

Crimson said:
That made me wonder what she did instead; according to IMDB, though, she didn't work in 1969 ...
I don't know. Sometimes I'll recast parts with Bette and Joan in my head.... I always want to switch the genders with the grandfather in that TWILIGHT ZONE episode, "The Masks" with Bette. And to switch the gender for that old gatling-gun killer in GUNSMOKE's "Morgan" (get it??-- "more gun") from Steve Forrest in Joan Crawford.

But I just do that mentally sometimes.

Why didn't either of them do TWILIGHT ZONE, I wonder? Goddess knows they would've.
 
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Alexis

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I've missed a lot. VP's birth certificate finally showed up?
Unfortunately they didn't have paper back then and the tablet of stone on which it was recorded has eroded with the passing of time. She should have smeared it with Principal Secret.
 

Toni

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Actually, you are missing the point...She doesn´t belong to this world as the cave drowings say...Tale as old as time...

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Caproni

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If any of you have browsed over to my thread centering on Be Kind Rewind, the richly written, and beautifully executed YouTube channel primarily focusing on actresses and the Best Actress Oscar category, whether it be classic or modern. It's one of my favorite channels, and it's the only one that I'm subscribed to that I always watch the new videos when they're posted. Naturally, the comments to these videos are cluttered with suggestions for future discussions.

Anyway, the two latest videos (it's the channel's first two-part contribution) center on the Davis/Crawford feud that we've dedicated this entire thread to.

This first part focuses primarily on Anne Bancroft's win for The Miracle Worker. Having never seen this Oscar-winning vehicle for Miss Bancroft, I cannot offer any personal view on whether or not the accolades she received were warranted or not. The video basically dives into the theory that Davis was not snubbed, and that the 1963 Oscars story is generally used only as a pretext to discuss Davis and Crawford and that Bancroft's work is routinely overlooked.


This second part rewinds a little and takes us back to the genesis of the Davis and Crawford feud. It tackles a lot of fact, rumor, and speculation. Honestly, there's probably relatively little that can actually be verified concerning Davis and Crawford's animosity because both women were ladies and seemed to prefer to doing their spats more intelligently. Of course Davis would some spatting at Crawford after she died, but they were usually fairly cordial about one another in interviews. Sure, you know that they aren't bosom buddies, but they don't out-right criticize the other. I take my hat off to them about that.

This video covers all of that and more. It's the channel's longest video to date. It gives me a deliciously entertaining little documentary revolving one of Hollywood's most infamous feuds.

 
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Caproni

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All smiles for the photographers, but I bet these conversations didn't go too smoothly. Even if they were all cordial to one another, I'd just about bet that all of them bad-mouthed the other behind their back.

Warner was probably furious and maybe even nervous about hiring back two women he let walk out of his studio a decade before.

Davis probably ranted about how Crawford was going to need an entourage and would be a pain to work with.

Crawford probably fussed about how Davis was getting the better part and how she was going to try an upstage her.

Of course, we all know that they were not the best of friends. Davis and Crawford were never in one another's corner, and Warner was weary at the very thought of hiring back, in what Davis called, "those two old broads". He apparently wanted Davis and Crawford replaced with younger actresses, but Robert Aldrich stood-fast and he got what he wanted.

 

Crimson

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Honestly, there's probably relatively little that can actually be verified concerning Davis and Crawford's animosity because both women were ladies and seemed to prefer to doing their spats more intelligently.
Davis could be downright bitchy; she spoke scathingly of Faye Dunaway and Miriam Hopkins. Yet she repeatedly insisted there was no feud between herself and Crawford, and spoke with guarded admiration for Joan's professionalism. If there had been any kind feud, Bette would have spent the last 10 years of her life trashing Joan at every turn, especially since it's what audiences wanted to hear. The book & TV series, while both fun, are fiction piled on top of an inherently false premise with just enough facts to give an air of legitimacy.
 

Caproni

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Davis could be downright bitchy; she spoke scathingly of Faye Dunaway and Miriam Hopkins. Yet she repeatedly insisted there was no feud between herself and Crawford, and spoke with guarded admiration for Joan's professionalism. If there had been any kind feud, Bette would have spent the last 10 years of her life trashing Joan at every turn, especially since it's what audiences wanted to hear. The book & TV series, while both fun, are fiction piled on top of an inherently false premise with just enough facts to give an air of legitimacy.
Yes, Davis typically commended Crawford for her professionalism, although she would often say that she did not personally like her. She always said Joan "was always time, new her lines" and stuff along those lines. Towards the end, Bette would often rant about how she just knew Joan had campaigned against her for the Academy Award in 1963, and how she just knew that she tallied up votes for Anne Bancroft among the New York voters.

I know she often spoke about how Miriam Hopkins, while a good and talented actress, was addicted to trying whatever she could to upstage her. Davis and Hopkins never personally liked each other either, and Davis made it clear that she felt about her on a persona level. She found Faye Dunaway to be completely unprofessional, and she once told Johnny Carson that for one million dollars she wouldn't work with Dunaway again. She said out of everyone she had worked with, Dunaway was undoubtedly the worst of the lot. She also felt Dunaway was wrong for the part of Sister Aimee McPherson. It's funny to me how Davis would rant forever it seems about how unprofessional Dunaway was, but would commend Crawford for being professional, and that in 1981 Dunaway ended up playing Crawford.
 

Jimmy Todd

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Yes, Davis typically commended Crawford for her professionalism, although she would often say that she did not personally like her. She always said Joan "was always time, new her lines" and stuff along those lines. Towards the end, Bette would often rant about how she just knew Joan had campaigned against her for the Academy Award in 1963, and how she just knew that she tallied up votes for Anne Bancroft among the New York voters.

I know she often spoke about how Miriam Hopkins, while a good and talented actress, was addicted to trying whatever she could to upstage her. Davis and Hopkins never personally liked each other either, and Davis made it clear that she felt about her on a persona level. She found Faye Dunaway to be completely unprofessional, and she once told Johnny Carson that for one million dollars she wouldn't work with Dunaway again. She said out of everyone she had worked with, Dunaway was undoubtedly the worst of the lot. She also felt Dunaway was wrong for the part of Sister Aimee McPherson. It's funny to me how Davis would rant forever it seems about how unprofessional Dunaway was, but would commend Crawford for being professional, and that in 1981 Dunaway ended up playing Crawford.
Davis also somewhat defended Joan when Christina wrote her tell-all. She said it was terrible to write such a thing after someone was dead and couldn't defend themselves.
There was also another interesting comment about her dim view of Cary Grant, compared to male stars with whom
she had worked. "Crawford and I would have eaten him alive!" This was from a biography about Crawford called, "Not the Girl Next Door."
 

Caproni

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The 1950 film Caged was apparently the first time talks of pairing Bette Davis and Joan Crawford together were tabled. I don't think this movie was going to be forerunner to the Grande Dame Guignol sub-genre, considering both women were still in their prime at the time of its earliest conception. Well, I guess Davis had starting slipping a little with movies like Beyond the Forest, although Crawford was still turning solid performances in films like The Damned Don't Cry.

From what I've found, Davis was presented the idea first, although she quickly rebuffed. While I cannot find anything concrete that she was weary of working with Crawford, I did find many instances where Davis declined the role because she did not want to make a "dyke movie". I cannot find anything concerning Crawford's response to this idea, but I am apt to believe that she would have possibly considered it, especially knowing how she shopped around for years trying to obtain the right story for her and Davis before she finally stumbled on What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

 

Snarky's Ghost

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Davis declined the role because she did not want to make a "dyke movie".
I dunno. Bob Aldrich approached Bette Davis and Angela Lansbury to do THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE to play the lesbian. Bette reportedly said, "Yeah, I can play a lesbian," while Angela was highly offended at the offer. I can't remember who got the part, but it wasn't either of them.
 

Caproni

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Sometimes my mind gets triggered by things that some might consider odd. Concerning these two ladies we've been discussing here for well over three years, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, I've had something new I'm wanting to do with them. I'm considering buying some of their earlier work to view just how they were when Joan was one of MGM's guiding lights, and Bette was struggling to find her niche at Universal and Warner.

What'cya think?

A nearly unrecognizable, Garbo-esque Bette Davis in Fashions of 1934, which was later re-released as simply Fashions.



A beautifully dressed Crawford the 1935 comedy No More Ladies.

 
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Crimson

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I have little familiarity with Crawford's work from the early- to mid-30s and absolutely none with Davis'.

The only Crawford films from the 30s I've seen are GRAND HOTEL, RAIN and THE WOMEN. The later two were atypical of her image at the time, I believe. GRAND HOTEL may be more representative of her work of the time -- the plucky career gal -- but, if so, it left me with little desire to see more. Even if they may have been her peak years, it seems the least interesting of her epochs -- I'll take the harder-edged Joan of the late 40s, the tough-as-old-boots Joan of the 50s, or even the Silent flapper of the 20s.

Nothing Davis did prior to JEZEBEL (1938) looks interesting to me; not even OF HUMAN BONDAGE or THE PETRIFIED FOREST. I've never seen either, but they both appear shabby and shoddy.

I should add, too, that I'm not excessively fond of the films of the early- to mid-30s; it's my least favorite period of Old Hollywood. If nothing else, the tendency of those years to have an obnoxiously loud musical score playing over dialogue drives me nuts! It's like watching a movie with someone playing the radio in the background.
 

Caproni

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I have little familiarity with Crawford's work from the early- to mid-30s and absolutely none with Davis'.

The only Crawford films from the 30s I've seen are GRAND HOTEL, RAIN and THE WOMEN. The later two were atypical of her image at the time, I believe. GRAND HOTEL may be more representative of her work of the time -- the plucky career gal -- but, if so, it left me with little desire to see more. Even if they may have been her peak years, it seems the least interesting of her epochs -- I'll take the harder-edged Joan of the late 40s, the tough-as-old-boots Joan of the 50s, or even the Silent flapper of the 20s.

Nothing Davis did prior to JEZEBEL (1938) looks interesting to me; not even OF HUMAN BONDAGE or THE PETRIFIED FOREST. I've never seen either, but they both appear shabby and shoddy.

I should add, too, that I'm not excessively fond of the films of the early- to mid-30s; it's my least favorite period of Old Hollywood. If nothing else, the tendency of those years to have an obnoxiously loud musical score playing over dialogue drives me nuts! It's like watching a movie with someone playing the radio in the background.
It's that I have a weird interest in some things that aren't always common among fans of Davis and Crawford. I have a desire to see, well not what they did earlier in their career, but more along the lines of where they came from, y'know? Again, I know it's a little odd, but I'm really wanting to do it.

Yeah, Crawford was typically cast in those rags-to-riches Cinderella-type tales at the dawn of the talkies. Joan was always from the poor side of the tracks, working as a secretary or in a factory, but usually found a more glamorous life within the working girl's reach, and would become a model, showgirl, or socialite by marrying a wealthier man. This was her niche of the era, especially early in the 1930s, and she was stereotyped in these types of pictures. So yes, her role as a secretary in the all-star Grand Hotel was definitely her playing right into her stereotype at the time. What's funny, though, is even while she was playing a familiar role, so was actually put on the same level with the likes of Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, and Wallace Beery. It's was MGM's way of saying, "Yes, Joan Crawford is indeed as big a star as these people." Her pictures were enormously popular, some of the early sound's highest-earning pictures. So woven into the poor-girl-makes-good formula was Crawford that she had to fight for the role of Sadie Thompson in the film version of Rain in 1932, which earned her the strongest reviews of her career up until that point, even if the film didn't do too well in theaters.

Crawford matured a little in the mid-thirties, but was still the glamorous center of attention in a succession of feathery romantic comedies, including No More Ladies and Love on the Run. She appeared with Clark Gable in a total of eight films. As one biographer stated, Crawford and Gable were considered a almost sure-thing at the box office, owing to their public popularity and chemistry on the screen. Joan was crowned the first "Queen of the Movies" in 1937, but that year saw her drop drastically from seventh to fortieth place in box office polls. Her next few pictures, like The Last of Mrs. Cheyney and The Shining Hour, were not successes, and MGM began edging her out the door. She took a supporting role in the 1939 film The Women, playing a villainous homewrecker who steals Norma Shearer's husband. She shuffled in and out of quality work until she finally left MGM for Warner in 1943.


Bette Davis was one of the many actors recruited from the stage at the start of sound films. Movie studios, who were nervous about making the transition from silent to sound, felt that having voice-trained actors in their pictures would make the transition go more smoothly. During her earliest days at Universal and eventually Warner Brothers, she was given a lot of ingenues. The brass was not terribly kind to her looks, and felt unsure exactly how to market her because her appearance and manner was not typical of other leading women of the day. She finally got a good role in The Man Who Played God, only because English actor George Arliss wanted her for the part, although she later remembered the majority of her films of the period as "junk". Warner tried unsuccessfully to mold her as different types: she was a straitlaced professional in Three on a Match and Ex-Lady; she was given the Garbo-esque glamour treatment for Fashions of 1934; and was in a host of quick dramas and comedies from Satan Met a Lady to The Golden Arrow. These films were poor, and Davis felt embarrassed to have them on her resumé. She did have stronger roles in Of Human Bondage, Bordertown, Dangerous, for which she won the Oscar, and The Petrified Forest, but found the majority of her roles unfulfilling. Bette eventually demanded that Warner give her better scripts, even famously taking them to court in England in 1937 to hopefully get released from her contract.

While she ultimately lost the case, she was rewarded with better scripts when she relented and finally returned to the United States. She given more substantial roles in films like Marked Woman and It's Love I'm After. Her career entered its greatest period with her Oscar-winning role in Jezebel, which was a major success. For the next decade, she starred in a string of critically and financially motion pictures, usually playing some variation of a tough-as-nails woman in what became nicknamed "women's pictures". She racked up an impressive total of Oscar nods, but never won again after 1939. Her career dipped in the late forties, but she found success once she left Warner in 1949. Bette brushed off the dust and did some very good work post-Warner during the 1950s and 1960s.


I'm not expecting Shakespeare with these movies. In fact, I'm basically expecting the exact opposite. I just want to see for myself how they looked and acted in their younger, lesser-known days.
 

Caproni

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Just wanted to let you guys know I hadn't forgotten about watching some of Bette and Joan's earlier work and reviewing them here for you all. My schedule is really hectic right now, but I am aiming to have this done for you all next week at the latest. I ordered a movie each from Bette and Joan's early 1930s work. They're not terribly long movies, so it won't take long to write and decipher... hopefully.

Happy watching!
 

Caproni

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This is a good little documentary (roughly ten or eleven minutes) centering solely on Joan Crawford's seven-year-stint at Warner Brothers. Crawford had came to the end of her tenure at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1943, and she asked to be released from her contract. (I've heard varying stories that she asked for her release, or the studio wanted her gone because she wasn't pulling her weight anymore.)

She wasn't knocked down too long, however, because she was quickly snatched up by Warner Brothers. For close to two years, she turned down all the scripts sent to her, including one called Never Goodbye. She was apparently placed on suspension for refusing the part. Crawford was weary of accepting roles she felt wouldn't strengthen her career. She wanted better parts than what MGM had been giving her, and she was going to hold out until Warner Brothers gave her something worth having.

Warner Brothers had purchased the novel Mildred Pierce in 1945, and they planned on making it into a picture. The studio wanted Bette Davis for the role, while director Michael Curtiz was pushing for Barbara Stanwyck. Both ladies turned the part down, and ─ apparently ─ so did Rosalind Russell, Olivia de Havilland, and Joan Fontaine. Crawford naturally knew the story was circling the lot, and she had decided the part was hers for the taking. Curtiz wouldn't agree to her casting, however, until she submitted to a screen test. Most agree this tossed Crawford a whim because she hadn't "auditioned" for work in two decades.


Mildred Pierce was a big hit in theaters, receiving the best reviews of Crawford's career until that point. Her performance was lauded in all areas of the press, which resulted in her winning the Academy Award for her work. Afterward her contract was rewritten wherein her salary was upped and she was given a little more creative freedom over her projects. She then starred in Humoresque (1946) with John Garfield, in a role that had been slated for Ida Lupino. It was another hit, with the critics in this video saying it offered what is perhaps Crawford's on-screen performance. Possessed (1947) had been tailor-made for Bette Davis, but she was forced to decline because she was pregnant. Crawford was brought in as a replacement, receiving another Oscar nod for her work. After the release of Daisy Kenyon (1947), she wouldn't do a film for two years.

Crawford had wanted to do a movie called Miss O'Brien, in which she would have played a self-sacrificing school teacher. Warner Brothers did not like the idea, and instead referred her to Flamingo Road, which they had just purchased. Crawford kept pushing the Miss O'Brien project, even stating in a press release that it would be her next picture. Jack Warner put his foot down, however, and said she was doing Flamingo Road or go on suspension. She eventually accepted Warner's request. What's funny about all this, though, is I've read that when Warner Brothers first bought Flamingo Road they saw it as an Ann Sheridan vehicle, but here it seems like it was always intended for Crawford.

Joan's last major film for Warner Brothers was The Damned Don't Cry (1950), a tawdry film noir that many historians feel roll all her personas into one. Her role as Harriet Craig (1950) is a favorite among fans because it closely resembles what she was supposedly like in real life. When her film Goodbye, My Fancy (1951) suffered at the box office, Warner Brothers began thinking she was slipping. They then assigned her This Woman Is Dangerous (1952), a rehash melodrama that she accepted while urging her agents to get her out of her contract. It was her last film under her Warner Brothers contract.


 
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