Bette Davis vs. Joan Crawford

Who do you prefer?

  • Bette Davis

    Votes: 17 51.5%
  • Joan Crawford

    Votes: 4 12.1%
  • Both

    Votes: 10 30.3%
  • Neither

    Votes: 2 6.1%

  • Total voters
    33

Snarky Oracle

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From what I understand Christina's book was written after Joan had died. Apparently, even Better thought that was a low class dodge, writing such a book when Joan couldn't defend herself.
Mommie Dearest, and Faye Dunaway, have their moments, but imho the film relies too much on sensationalism, as opposed to presenting a more nuanced picture of the actress. Joan may not have been a barrel of laughs, but it seems she was possibly also an abused child, as well as an alcoholic. That doesn't excuse anything, but it's part of the whole picture.
Several people have come out to say they only had positive experiences with Joan, such as Anne Blythe and Joan's two other adopted girls. I also read that Christina and Christopher were very difficult children to raise. Again, that doesn't excuse any form of child abuse, but it's part of the whole story. The film never delved into the complexities of a woman who still fascinates the public some 40 years after her death.
Still, the film is a hoot, albeit a dark one, considering the subject matter.

People also criticized Bette Davis daughter for writing "My Mother's Keeper" before Bette had died. So ya just can't win. Although "Mommie Dearest" was a much better book. The problem with the movie was that, as a couple of latter-day reviewers pointed out, was the lack of effective transitions between the scenes and the eras, causing the movie to feel just silly --- not so much the "outrageous" events which were supposedly true.

Faye Dunaway and Christina both disliked the film due to its campishness, and yet for completely different reasons. Faye, who actively lobbied for the part when the book was already infamous, then tried to pretend she didn't approve of Christina's portrait of Joan -- making Faye a hypocrite from Hades. In contrast, Christina told Larry King a few years ago that the movie didn't make her mother out to be any more extreme than she was, but just different --- a glamorous woman wanted be obeyed, but in real life, there was no placating a raging, abusive narcissist like Joan, no matter how much you complied with her demands.


To me, the oddest thing about the film is that it's not even sympathetic towards Christina. Maybe that's what the filmmakers thought was "nuance", but when my reaction to a movie about child abuse is the urge to punch the little girl in the face, something has gone amiss.

A very good point, and one I'd frankly never really thought of before.

 

Jack O'Lantern Jimmy

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To me, the oddest thing about the film is that it's not even sympathetic towards Christina. Maybe that's what the filmmakers thought was "nuance", but when my reaction to a movie about child abuse is the urge to punch the little girl in the face, something has gone amiss.
I actually found Christina in her real life interviews not the least bit sympathetic, and whenever I see or read about her discussing the book I come away wanting to believe she exaggerated the whole ordeal. I'm not sure exactly why. It's just a vibe I get from her.
 

Crimson

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The problem with the movie was that, as a couple of latter-day reviewers pointed out, was the lack of effective transitions between the scenes and the eras, causing the movie to feel just silly --- not so much the "outrageous" events which were supposedly true.

Roger Ebert certainly savaged the film, and not because of its sordid subject but because it's an inept movie. I don't think the filmmakers really knew what they were going for. The film has no perspective and lacks any sympathies for its characters. It's a hatchet job on Joan, and still manages to make Christina less likeable than the raging, alcoholic child abuser.

Even when the movie tries to be positive about some aspect of Joan, it rings false. The famous boardroom scene does not match any aspect of Joan's personality. She succeeded by being professional and playing the game within the rules of the system. She never had De Havilland's genteel rebelliousness, let alone Bette's ball-busting defiance. In classic bully fashion, Joan's rages were directed at underlings and kids.
 

darkshadows38

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the thing with Christina Crawford for her book some of it they told her put in more and they added things that did not happen or so i hear, but i do think that Joan was an awful mother to her and her brother. as far as i know she wrote it before her mom died maybe i'm wrong i dunno. from what i understand on her about is that the Original version was really poorly written so her publisher she worked with tweaked it and put shit for drama sake in and people believed it. i do think that she was treated like shit by her mom and her brother too. now i have the (1978) version on paperback i've never read the whole thing but i do think she's told a lot of truth as well as some of it in the book may have been lies a bit of both really. it's harder to tell the difference i think on did happen vs. what did not happen.

what i find funny with B.D. was you had her do interviews in (1980) saying her Mom did the best she could and praise her and than time passes her mother has a stroke and had surgery as well. damn her died and she was asked to write a bout about her life with her mom she said f... yeah i'll do it how much? and she clearly did it for the money. broke Bette Davis's heart. i dunno if Christina did wait until her mom died or if she wrote it before she died i have heard she was writing it before she died.

i dunno how right i am or how wrong i am. with the film i do think they spent more time making her a villain than maybe was i dunno intended? i do think that in her own way Joan did love Christina. but i also think that with the way she was raised by a mom who also beat the shit out of her she learned it from her. but than you had the twins who apparently she treated them good. Christina seemed to be i think the only one that stood up to her that's how i've always looked at it.

Christopher too and my guess the Twins were treated better cause they didn't stand up to her but that's just a guess. yes in the film Dunaway did go over the top but than Joan was an over the top woman to i think. i love one of bette's sayings about her she slept with the males on the slot except for Lassie. or was it Rin Tin Tin? i forget which. that wasn't a lie either at least i don't think it is.
 

DallasFanForever

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as far as i know she wrote it before her mom died maybe i'm wrong i dunno.
I have always heard that the book was already known to Joan before she died. In the movie they portray it as though the book wasn’t in the works until after Joan’s death and the reading of the will. I’m not sure which one is actually true. I guess only Christina could answer that.
 

Snarky Oracle

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I actually found Christina in her real life interviews not the least bit sympathetic, and whenever I see or read about her discussing the book I come away wanting to believe she exaggerated the whole ordeal. I'm not sure exactly why. It's just a vibe I get from her.

As the decades rolled on, Christina became increasingly flip in her attitudes and comments about her mommie dearest, no longer worried as she was in the beginning about coming off as fair and objective.

Still, I believe nearly every word from Christina, even though she did have to pay her siblings, Cindy and Cathy, a settlement a few years ago when DNA tests apparently proven they were indeed biological twins after years of Christina asserting they were not.

 

darkshadows38

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that's true in recent years some of her stories really vary. i'd say most of the stuff she said is true but there's also stuff she prolly did lie about i have no proof on that so it's just a theory. my source of where i've heard it was i think from Christina where she told an interviewer Joan did know about it, she didn't like it but i think she knew there was nothing that could be done about it. i've always had the feeling she was more Honest than B.D. was in her book. i'm sure Bette wasn't the greatest parent but she really did adore B.D. and until B.D. met her husband at age what 16 i think? she adored her as well. in her Book Bette blames B.D's husband on why their relationship went to shit.

she just might be right i think.
 

DallasFanForever

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she did have to pay her siblings, Cindy and Cathy, a settlement a few years ago when DNA tests apparently proven they were indeed biological twins after years of Christina asserting they were not.
I’m a little sketchy on this story. I remember it vaguely but why did Christina not believe they were really biological twins? Why would that even matter to her?
 

Jack O'Lantern Jimmy

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I’m a little sketchy on this story. I remember it vaguely but why did Christina not believe they were really biological twins? Why would that even matter to her?
My impression was that Christina was pushing the idea that Joan only adopted children for the publicity. The story was that Bette Davis was receiving attention for adopting a baby, which irked Joan, who had already adopted Christina and Christopher. She decided to one up Bette by adopting twins. Christina was making the point that Joan was so desperate for any kind of media attention that she lied about the girls being twins because she couldn't get real twins.
It was another arrow in Christina's smear arsenal, only this one was proven untrue.
 

ginnyfan

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If she could lie about that, makes me wonder what other lies she told?:re: About things that no one ever can fact-check or investigate.
 

Jack O'Lantern Jimmy

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If she could lie about that, makes me wonder what other lies she told?:re: About things that no one ever can fact-check or investigate.
I was always a little skeptical about her claims. I think there's truth in them, but she comes off as a little too opportunistic to me. When it was the anniversary of the book she went on tour with drag Queens dressed as Joan. It's such things that don't elicit trust from me, especially when dealing with such a serious topic as child abuse.
Then again, maybe she helped people open up about their own trauma.
 

Snarky Oracle

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I think Christina trying to be cautiously credible is long over. She's in her 80s now, and don't think she gives a dang anymore. She used to reject the movie, but in recent years has resigned herself to showing up at midnight showings because now the movie is at least as infamous as the book.

I still believe her. Mostly.

I’m a little sketchy on this story. I remember it vaguely but why did Christina not believe they were really biological twins? Why would that even matter to her?

Christina's detractors have used the DNA story to say: "See?? She lies about her sainted mama!" -- and Joan's fans are a dark brood; much darker than Bette's. I suspect the twins story probably came from Joan, but "why?" we'll never know. Which is why I'd like to hear Christina address the topic, if she hasn't, publicly.

That said, Christopher, her brother, backed up her story, and even thought Christina was too easy on Joan. Cindy and Cathy came along later and were sent off to boarding school much earlier, and apparently didn't have the same experience at home that Christopher and Christina had -- although, if you ever saw Cindy and Cathy is an interview, they were two badly-damaged people. So who knows how that happened...

 

Jack O'Lantern Jimmy

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I think Christina trying to be cautiously credible is long over. She's in her 80s now, and don't think she gives a dang anymore. She used to reject the movie, but in recent years has resigned herself to showing up at midnight showings because now the movie is at least as infamous as the book.

I still believe her. Mostly.



Christina's detractors have used the DNA story to say: "See?? She lies about her sainted mama!" -- and Joan's fans are a dark brood; much darker than Bette's. I suspect the twins story probably came from Joan, but "why?" we'll never know. Which is why I'd like to hear Christina address the topic, if she hasn't, publicly.

That said, Christopher, her brother, backed up her story, and even thought Christina was too easy on Joan. Cindy and Cathy came along later and were sent off to boarding school much earlier, and apparently didn't have the same experience at home that Christopher and Christina had -- although, if you ever saw Cindy and Cathy is an interview, they were two badly-damaged people. So who knows how that happened...

Why do you say the twins were badly damaged people?
Another question is why am I so fascinated by Joan Crawford and all the mythology surrounding her? Seriously, what is it about such women that is so I intriguing?
 

Snarky Oracle

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Why do you say the twins were badly damaged people?

You'd just have to see one of them interviewed. It's kinda sad. And I'd like to blame Joan, but I dunno.

Another question is why am I so fascinated by Joan Crawford and all the mythology surrounding her? Seriously, what is it about such women that is so I intriguing?

People just like old regal bitches. They just do.
 
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Jack O'Lantern Jimmy

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You'd just have to see one of them interviewed. It's kinda sad. And I'd like blame Joan, but I dunno.



People just like old regal bitches. They just do.
Lol. The more regal and the bitchier the better! Maybe that's why Joan Collins still makes the news.
Re: Joan Crawford, Madonna, et al, there's something admirable about the attitude that "I may not have been born the most beautiful, the best actress or the best singer, but dammit, I'm going to make up for it through sheer hard work!"
 

DallasFanForever

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Another question is why am I so fascinated by Joan Crawford and all the mythology surrounding her?
I’m quite fascinated with her as well. I don’t know what the truth is as far as her relationship with Christina goes and it’s really none of my business but I just find it very intriguing that here we are 40 years after that movie and we’re still talking about this.
 

Jack O'Lantern Jimmy

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I think celebratity men who have similarly sordid pasts don't garner the same amount of attention as women is because traditionally, and unfairly, women have been held to higher standards regarding motherhood and purity then men. Also, these women seemed to be more connected to raising children then men so there were plenty of bitter children to write books about them. Yes, Bing Crosby had a tell all book written by his children, but there was no movie or book tours.
Joan was married when she adopted Christopher. Where's his responsibility in all this?
The male heads of the Hollywood studios during Joan's time probably did more damage, harrassment and abuse to people then stars like Joan, but they don't get the "Mommie Dearest" treatment.
Just my rambling thoughts.
 
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darkshadows38

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you sure Joan did that? i have a hard time believing that really only cause as far as i know Joan adopted the twins in i think (1948) maybe? as far as i know they hadn't even met yet. or if they did they didn't talk to each other as far as i know they didn't really meet until Baby Jane was filmed. before that Bette Davis idolized Joan even as a young actress she loved her and it wasn't until i think she worked with her that she grew to hate her. but she on some level i think did respect her since she came from nothing like she did and made a name for herself.

what's really interesting i don't see anyone talking about on the adoption i mean is look up the story of Georgia Tan she was the woman who Joan got her kids from look up that woman that woman was f... evil as hell.

Joan Crawford she could the Nobel Peace Prize for being a parent compared to that woman. she was an awful parent to Christina & her brother but she didn't try and kill them or kill them at all this woman well look it up it's a thing of nightmares.
 

Crimson

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Yes, Bing Crosby had a tell all book written by his children, but there was no movie or book tours.

MOMMIE DEAREST was the first of its kind, I think? That may explain its outsized impact. Plus, while Crosby maintained a genial, Christmas-y image throughout his life, Joan's image had hardened in her later years. It may have just been easier for the public to believe she was a monster.

Worth noting too that Crosby's other kids strongly disputed the allegations in the book by the one son; but, then, so too did two of Joan's kids.
 
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