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Entries in Bette Davis (44)


Oscar Horrors: "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening 'til Halloween we look back on a horror-connected Oscar nomination. Here's David on the cinematography of a camp classic...

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is hardly remembered as a horror classic; its camp reputation precedes it, as its recent appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars attests. (Only the finest for that crop of drag queens!) While the film is not what we might traditionally think of as a horror film, it has the same elements of lost souls, grotesque faces and physical cruelty that you might expect from any product of the genre. Just one year after Alfred Hitchcock changed the genre forever with Psycho, Baby Jane features a close-up of Joan Crawford’s face mushed against the floor - an eerie recall of Janet Leigh’s glassy-eyed demise.

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Whatever Happened To... of stars discussing their scripts together?


Olivia @ 100: It's Love I'm After

We're counting down to Olivia de Havilland's historic 100th birthday (July 1st!). Team Experience will be looking at highlights and curiosities from her career. Here's Josh...

Is there a film star in history who could stare doe-eyed better than Olivia de Havilland? Or anyone who delivered a line with seething bitterness through a smile better than Bette Davis? The rarely seen 1937 comedy It’s Love I’m After offers an early showcase of both women doing what they do best before their long careers to come. Davis was in the process of reaching mega-stardom, and de Havilland was unknowingly just one year away from taking Hollywood by storm opposite Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. It’s Love I’m After was a chance for both of them to show off their comedic chops in the screwball era. It was also the first of the many collaborations between the two women... 

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Whatever Happened to Baby Jessica

I'm gagging at this photo. Bette Davis and Jessica Lange at an AFI event in June 1983. (Thanks to Dan Callahan for sharing it.)  Which means this photo was taken just two months after Lange won her first Oscar (Tootsie... she'd eventually be a two-time winner like Bette) and shortly before Davis suffered from multiple strokes...

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The Mother of all Feuds

a must readAs you've surely heard by now, since it's one of the most striking actressy announcements in some time, Ryan Murphy's next anthology series will be called "Feud" and for its first season the subject is the über showbiz catfight: Bette Davis vs. Joan Crawford. Bette & Joan's famous loathing for each other was not confined to just the horror classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) but the series will be confined there since that set is the natural place to dramatize. It was the only film the two combative actresses made together. After the success of Baby JaneHush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) was intended as a reunion but ultimately Olivia de Havilland (who had her own legendary feud with sister Joan Fontaine) took Crawford's place.

Since Ryan Murphy can't live without Jessica Lange he's cast her as Joan Crawford. It's a terrible call because their screen personas are antithetical...

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Remember When...

...Julianne Moore posed as other famous movie stars?

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Judy by the Numbers: "If I Forget You"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Click to embiggenToday's clip is a plea for the importance of film preservation. The following 3 minute clip is all that is currently known to survive of a short called "If I Forget You" starring Judy Garland and Bette Davis. That's right, two of Classic Hollywood's biggest stars once shared the screen and we know virtually nothing about it.

The little we do know about this teeny number and the tiny short surrounding it comes from reviews and an ad (pictured left) that ran in a few trade papers circa April of 1940. The short was part of the third annual tribute to Will Rogers, who passed away in 1935. It featred Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge, then Judy singing the title song, then Bette Davis stepped onscreen to ask audiences to donate to the Will Rogers Memorial Commission (which benefited the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital).

The Movie: If I Forget You (MGM short, 1940)
The Songwriters: Irving Caesar (music & lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Kay Kyser, Bette Davis, director unknown.

The Story: On the surface, a one reel ad for a charity seems underwhelming enough (and certainly Judy's performance, while sweet, is standard fare for the starlet), but when taken in context, If I Forget You shows how powerful one star's image can be even after death. The comedic cowboy had been gone 3 years, but the charity bearing his name could sway a week of exhibition ("Will Rogers National Theatres Week") and get two uncooperative giants (MGM & WB) to lend major talent for a brief cameo. This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that Will Rogers was a 20th Century Fox star. Will Rogers's image had the power to cross studio lines and exhibition rules. It probably didn't occur to Judy Garland as she sang Caesar's song that her image may one day become as powerful as Rogers's had been. Nonetheless this small (nearly forgotten) short reminds fans and academics that the aura of studio system stars can have tangible effects even after their deaths.

previously: "The Land of Let's Pretend" (1930), "The Texas Tornado" (1936), "Americana" (1936), "Dear Mr Gable" (1937), "Got a New Pair of Shoes" (1937), "Why? Because!" (1938), "Inbetween" (1938), “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (1938), "Over the Rainbow" (1939), "Good Morning" (1939)