Oscar Nomination Predictions – 2015 (Oh, what the heck!)

Yep. Yep. I’ve remembered to make my picks this year. I’ve even seen a lot of them this time. Here we go:

Best Picture

* Birdman
* The Theory of Everything
* Imitation Game
* The Grand Budapest Hotel
* Boyhood
* Foxcatcher
* Selma
* Nightcrawler
* Gone Girl
* American Sniper

(Does American Sniper get a nod? I keep going back and forth. Oh, what the heck. Ten picks, it is).

Best Actor

* Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
* Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
* Michael Keaton (Birdman)
* Ralph Fienes (Grand Budapest Hotel)
* Eddy Redmayne (Theory of Everything)

(If not Carell or Fienes, then Jake Gyllenhaal, but I”m rooting for Ralph and Steve. I hope it’s not just personal bias.)

Best Actress

* Reece Witherspoon (Wild)
* Felicity Jones (Theory of Everything)
* Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
* Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
* Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

(Does Amy Adams get snubbed? She could be the wild card, but I can’t figure out whose place she’d take, so I”m going with snubbed. That, or Jennifer Aniston gets snubbed, but I don’t think so… Hollywood loves an actor who finally lands a different role and shines).

Best Supporting Actor
* J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
* Edward Norton (Birdman)
* Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
* Ethan Hawke (Birdman)
* Robert Duvall (The Judge)

(sure)

Best Supporting Actress
* Keira Knightly (The Imitation Game)
* Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
* Emma Stone (Birdman)
* Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
* Imelda Staunton (Pride)

(I honestly have no idea past the first three, and a safe bet on Jessica)

What Matters? – The Death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and The Ripple Effect

“Acting is so difficult for me that, unless the work is of a certain stature in my mind, unless I reach the expectations I have of myself, I’m unhappy. Then it’s a miserable existence. I’m putting a piece of myself out there. If it doesn’t do anything, I feel so ashamed. I’m afraid I’ll be the kind of actor who thought he would make a difference and didn’t. Right now, though, I feel like I made a little bit of difference.” (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, imdb.com)

Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)

I know he’s a celebrity. I know I don’t know him. He might’ve been a good person, or perhaps not. With his death, comes a great sadness, though. The writer and director in me had him on the short list of brilliant actors I dreamed of working with. The film lover in me wishes he’d be around to win just a few more awards — to play the lead in just a few more films. The horrid shock of knowing we’ll never get to see him in a new film ever is devastating. My only consolation is the realization that there are so many of his films I’ve only “meant” to see, and through them he gets a few new roles — at least for a little while.

After several hours of reflection behind me, I realize why this death affects me more than other celebrity deaths have. Yes, he was an amazing actor — the type that makes you see a movie just because he’s in it, but that’s not it. This death brings tears to my eyes, because he mattered to me. He mattered because in my world Capote mattered. It changed me, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman was Truman Capote, and that mattered.

As I pondered why Capote, of all random films, means something to me, I started thinking about other films (not necessarily my favorites) that truly effected me in some way. Why did they stand out amongst so many? When I started thinking about it, it was actually easy to focus on a select few. This list, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is inspired by you:

———————————-

Beginning in the summer of 2004, I worked the overnight shift at a TV station during the week. I watched a lot of movies during that time, often early in the morning, or in the middle of the night on weekends when the world was asleep. My mind shifted and became addled by a reverse sleep cycle, and I only remember that I might have maybe watched this or that during that time. There’s one film I remember vividly, though.

Before Sunrise

As Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke bantered about in Before Sunrise,  I remember thinking that never before had I seen a film that had so much dialogue. How had this one pulled it off with such great success? They beat into our brains in film school that films should show not tell, that less is more when it comes to dialogue. Yet, here was a film that broke those rules. Nothing really happened, and it was beautiful. It was fascinating. The conversation was brilliant. The characters were real. I loved it. I love it. It has, had, and continues to impact and inspire me. Thank you Richard Linklater. Thank you Julie Delpy. Thank you Ethan Hawke.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Before college I hadn’t been exposed to many silent films. When I saw The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, it enthralled me. The peculiar scenery, the bizarre characterizations — the horror of it all. This film made me love silent films. It made me see that the world didn’t need to look like the world, to feel like the world. It taught me what a somnambulist is for goodness sakes! Caligari has inspired Hitchcock and Tim Burton, and any number of others. I didn’t know any of this when I first saw it, though. All I knew is it was amazing!

Walk the Line

In addition to leading me onto the straight and narrow path of being smitten with the music of Johnny Cash, Walk the Line, simply put, made me believe in love again. It had one thing that separated it from every other love story I’d ever seen or read — one detail that made it stand out. It was  true.

Harry Potter

Okay, this is a weird one in comparison to the others. Hear me out, though. Before seeing  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone I hadn’t read any of the books. After seeing it, I immediately read every single one that was out at the time. I bought the remaining novels on their opening days year-after-year. I won a 2nd place Colorado Broadcaster’s Association award for a news piece I did on the final book release. This fantasy world matters to me. Watching Harry Potter marked the first time since L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, that I was fully transported into another world — it brought magic to my life. I wanted to be in those books. I wanted that fantasy to be real. Because of all that followed, this first film mattered.

The Sea Inside

The Sea Inside is about assisted suicide. It should be a depressing film, but it’s not. I left the film feeling more alive. It was an emotional journey, and of course I cried, but it was not sad. I gained a new love for Spanish cinema after seeing this film. My heart grew fond of Javier Bardem long before he joined forces with The Coen Brothers or James Bond. Mostly, though, I was moved in a way I’d never expected or known before. This one sat with me for a long time.

The Sensation of Sight

David Strathairn starred in Good Night and Good Luck. In any other year he would have had-an Oscar winning performance. This isn’t about that film, though. About a year later, I went to see a film starring Strathairn at the Starz Denver Film Festival called The Sensation of Sight. I had no idea David would be there, but when the Q&A began, there he was  with Ian Somerhalder from Lost. What? My heart began to race — literally. Standing in this tiny theatre in Denver, and it truly was a tiny theatre, was an actor I had grown to love. Those days when I sat in the audience at Starz were some of the days I felt most alive during my stint working at a news station. I sat there film after film, and I knew I belonged. It was one of the only places that made me feel that way. Seeing David Strathairn there in my world, close enough that I actually could have talked to him had I thought of something to say, gave me more hope than I even realized at the time.

This brings us back around to Capote, which came out the same year as Goodnight and Good Luck. Any other year, Strathairn may have won the Oscar, or perhaps it would’ve been Heath Ledger. It was neither. It was… who?

Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Capote

This was, as it happens, the second year I’d had an Oscar party — the second year in which I made a grand effort to see as many films as possible. This was the year, I opened my mind to movies I wouldn’t normally see. It was one of the most memorable years in film for me to date. Perhaps, it was the impact of the films that year, or maybe it was just that I’d spent so much time in theatres alone in awe. It’s hard to say. In any case, I didn’t know much about Truman Capote. I’d never read In Cold Blood. I still haven’t. The film Capote blew me away, though. I’m sure I’d seen shocking endings before, but something about Hoffman’s performance — something about the way in which that character behaved — something about the cold, heartless ending — it mattered. It shocked me, and it changed the way I looked at film. It changed the way I measured an amazing performance.

You see, Phillip Seymour Hoffman will forever be Capote to me. He will always matter. Mr. Hoffman sir, you did make a difference. You did the only thing you ever set out to do. There is no shame in the roles you played, or the lives you changed. You’ve created a great ripple.

Goodnight Mr. Hoffman, and good luck.

So an Insurance Guy Walks into a Femme Fatale’s House: Double Indemnity, in review

“Who’d you think I was anyway? The guy that walks into a good-looking dame’s front parlor and says, “Good afternoon, I sell accident insurance on husbands… you got one that’s been around too long?
One you’d like to turn into a little hard cash?” – Walter Neff –

doubleIndemnityGrocery

In Summary:

Double Indemnity is a film noir about an insurance man, Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray), who falls mistakenly in love with the beautiful Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) while trying to sell her insurance. The two conspire to remove Phyllis’ ill-tempered husband from the picture, so they can be together. In what is almost the perfect murder and insurance fraud scheme, director Billy Wilder places Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) into the position of the voice of reason. The question is, will Keyes figure out what Walter and Phyllis have done before it’s too late.

Why I watched this one:
As it turns out, I’ve watched very few film noir pieces. I’m not sure why. I wanted and needed to watch more, and Double Indemnity has long been on my list.  Also, I enjoy Fred MacMurray, and was interested to see his performance in this particular film.

So what is a noir? Variety describes the genre this way:

“Between the Great Depression and the start of the
Cold War, Hollywood went noir, reflecting the worldly, weary, wised-up under
current of mid-century America. In classics such as Laura, Sweet Smell of
Success, and Double Indemnity, where the shadows of L.A. and New York
pulse with
killers, corpses, and perilous romance, failure is not only a logical option but a smart-talking seduction.” – Vanity Fair March 2007 –

Who isn’t drawn in by the idea that the shadows of L.A. and New York “pulse” with peril. It’s exciting. It’s dangerous. Honestly, though, if I wasn’t reading this quote as a description of film noir, I might mistake it for that of a mobster movie — Dick Tracy, The Godfather, The Sopranos, and The Departed immediately pop to mind.  Filmnoir.net takes a different approach when describing the film noir.

“The great films noir had both popular appeal and artistic merit because their themes address the human condition and the frailty of normal lives, which at any moment can be plunged into the chasm of chaos,
t
hrough chance or individual action – innocent or otherwise.
How moral ambivalence, lust, love and greed can destroy lives was
explored outside the closed romantic realism of mainstream movies.”

I was always taught to believe they required this formula:

1. A femme fatale (always a femme fatale) — which means never trust the women in these films. Never.
2. Someone with some loose morals
3. A detective, or a crime
4. High contrast cinematography and lighting (big shadows, light vs. dark, black blacks and white whites — you get it)

Double Indemnity meets all of these film noir requirements,  so no wonder it’s marked as one of the greats. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1945, including Best Picture, but lost to the Bing Crosby film Going My Way.

My Review & Verdict — in Claps:

“Suddenly it came over me that everything would go wrong.
It sounds crazy, Keyes, but it’s true, so help me.
I couldn’t hear my own footsteps. It was the walk of a dead man.”
– Water Neff –

Image
I enjoyed this film. Why?

Every character with the exception of Barton Keyes was pretty much a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, or a murderer. Of course, by “every character” I simply mean those played by MacMurray and Stanwyck. Perhaps, it was that bit of redemption at the end as Walter Neff comes clean about his crime that makes me like it. Perhaps, it was the intrigue throughout as I wondered how they’d commit their murder, and if dear Phyllis Dietrichson was really in love with Neff or simply playing him for a fool. Even though I know the woman is always deceptive in the noir, I always want to believe it isn’t true. I want a good guy. I want a happy ending. But then, Wilder began with the end and then had Walter tell the story from the beginning. I knew immediately there was no happy ending to be had, but I still enjoyed this film.

For the third time  Billy Wilder has graced this blog, and he’s definitely becoming one of my favorites. Once more he’s created likeable unlikable characters who represent the good and bad in all of us. This time he did it in the acceptable form of film noir. Every director could learn a thing or two about character development and an interesting plot line from Mr. Wilder.

Thus it is, that you may clap in high contrast, with big scary shadow puppet hands, for Double Indemnity.

“Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman –
and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?”
– Water Neff –

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It’s the Wild West, There’s No Rain — Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, in Review

“You should have let yourself get killed a long time ago when you had the chance. See, you may be the biggest thing that ever hit this area, but you’re still two-bit outlaws. I never met a soul more affable than you, Butch, or faster than the Kid, but you’re still nothing but two-bit outlaws on the dodge. It’s over, don’t you get that? Your time is over and you’re gonna die bloody,  and all you can do is choose where.”
– Sheriff Ray Bledsoe: [to Butch and Sundance] –

In Summary:
As you might deduce from the title, this film is about the legendary outlaws Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and The Sundance Kid (Robert Redford). The film follows the two robbers through the latter portion of their “careers” as they terrorize one last train, get tailed by an unknown horse posse, and jump ship for Bolivia with Sundance’s girlfriend Etta (Katherine Ross). This so-called “buddy film” is ultimately more about the friendship between Butch, Sundance, and even to a certain extent Etta, then it is the great escapades in which they partook. It also touches a bit on their efforts to live life on the straight and narrow, which never really seems quite possible for the two outlaws.

The film, directed by George Roy Hill,  brought Redford and Newman together for the first time. They would re-unite in 1973 for Hill’s film, The Sting. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid won Oscars for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Original Song. It was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Sound. It was nominated and won a cache of other awards, including several BAFTAS, Golden Globes, and a Grammy for Burt Bacharach‘s original score. You can view the complete list here.

Why I watched this one:
This movie popped to mind, because I’d seen a little part of it once (I was pretty sure anyway)– the part where they jump off the cliff — and I never saw the rest.

Mostly, though, I wanted to see another Paul Newman film (I’ve only seen Cool Hand Luke, and his more recent appearances in Road to Perdition and Empire Falls). I didn’t enjoy Cool Hand Luke, so I was skeptical of this movie. But, I like outlaws as much as the next girl, so why not give it a watch.

I didn’t remember much about Butch Cassidy or The Sundance Kid before watching this. I still don’t know too much about their outlaw career, to be honest, since the film is dated near the end of their heyday.

In doing some research for this review, however, I found this awesome old photo of Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, and the rest of their gang, The Wild Bunch. Interestingly enough, in the film their gang is not the Wild Bunch, but The Hole in the Wall Gang. It’s true, though, that the Wild Bunch would meet quite often at a hideout called Hole in the Wall in Johnson County, Wyoming. As it turns out, the various outlaws that met here were called The Hole in the Wall Gang. This referred to all of the individual gangs that would meet there, making it not just the one group, but several, including The Wild Bunch.


Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, is in the lower right-hand side of the photo with his hand resting on the arm of his chair. I don’t really think Paul Newman looks much like him. The Sundance Kid (Harry Alonzo Longabaugh), seated on the far left, does look a bit like Robert Redford did in the film, though. It’s said that posing for this photo was one of the greatest mistakes Butch Cassidy made, because it allowed the Pinkerton Detective Agency to track them down.

Needless to say, after doing some quick research on Butch Cassidy and his gang, its clear that the film takes some liberties with actual events, and invents others entirely. Yes, they robbed a train called the flyer, and yes a posse did follow them for a while. Yes, they did go to South America with Etta (though they originally aimed for Argentina, not Bolivia), and yes they did supposedly die in a shootout. Everything else, might be a bit embellished. You can read more of the story for yourself here on Wikipedia or on a more legitimate site of your choice.

My Review & Verdict — in Claps:
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. It intermixed just enough humor and action to make it extremely enjoyable to watch. Paul Newman was entertaining as Butch Cassidy, but Robert Redford shined as Sundance. There was something quietly clever about his character, even though Butch was supposedly the brains of their gang. The minor characters are also rather ingenious — all endearing in their own right. They include, Woodcock (who guarded the safe on the train), the bicycle salesman, News Carver (of their gang), and poor Percy Garris (who almost helps Butch and Sundance lead a lawful life). Each of them has at least one memorable one-liner, which keeps the film enjoyable and light considering we’re watching a gang of outlaws.

Stylistically, the film is a total trip too. It starts out with an awesome sepia-tone look that, to be honest, I wish had been carried throughout. Then, there’s that wonderful montage of photos as Butch, Sundance, and Etta travel towards Bolivia with still pictures of the cast intermixed with historical photos. I was hoping this was intentional, and not a montage inserted into the DVD master of the film to make up for missing footage. It was intentional.

The only part I disliked about the film, though it seems to have received critical acclaim, was the bicycle scene and use of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. The song completely broke from the feel of the film. Why would that song be playing in the old west? It wouldn’t. The bicycle scene itself with Paul Newman and Katherine Ross, may not have bothered me had it only played out under a western-themed tune. My Darlin’ Clementine? ‘Ol Susannah? Anything!

That scene aside,  I came to an obvious decision immediately after watching this film… 

You may clap loudly for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and if you’re like Etta, you might just run off with a gang of outlaws after watching it. Okay, no… too much? Don’t do that… please.

“I’m 26, and I’m single, and a school teacher, and that’s the bottom of the pit. And the only excitement I’ve known is here with me now. I’ll go with you, and I won’t whine, and I’ll sew your socks, and I’ll stitch you when you’re wounded, and I’ll do anything you ask of me except one thing. I won’t watch you die. I’ll miss that scene if you don’t mind.” – Etta Place –

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Bette Davis Eyes Gone Bad: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Twisted Sisterly Macabre and Bitter Rivalry

Bette Davis, easily one of the best-known stars of the 1930’s through 50’s, was only 54 when she made the frightening film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? which acted to revitalize her career after a short lull. Her transformation from big-eyed beauty to beastly spinster is so terrifying that it really gives a whole new perspective to the phrase “Bette Davis Eyes.” The question I asked myself multiple times during my screening of the movie, though, was, “Is this horror? Or just depressing?” It certainly doesn’t meet the requirements that we normally think of when we think of “scary movies.” There are no monsters (or are there), no gruesome attacks (not exactly), and I certainly never screamed with terror. Upon looking up the definition of horror, though, it’s defined as: an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; centered upon or depicting terrifying or macabre events. That said, I suppose this does qualify as horror, it certainly was horrific to watch and it absolutely shocked.

Blanche: You wouldn’t be able to do these awful things to me if I weren’t still in this chair.
Jane: But you ARE, Blanche! You ARE in that chair!

In Summary & Review
The film is about two aged Hollywood sisters who live alone in their equally aged house. One sister, movie star Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford), is confined to a wheel chair from an infamous and somewhat mysterious car accident that we see early in the film. The other sister, Jane “Baby Jane” Hudson (Bette Davis) is her eccentric caregiver. Poor Jane was a child vaudeville star who never found her footing in the movies when she grew older. It’s a sad picture before Jane goes bonkers. It’s a horrifying picture once she does. While both sisters battled severe jealousy towards one another at various points in their lives, it seems Jane’s fall from stardom effected her more than Blanche’s. She’s trapped in the child-like world of Baby Jane, certain that one day she’ll regain her star status; that is, after she’s rid of her beautiful, annoying, and crippled sister. However, a spoiled child grown into a spoiled and mentally disturbed woman isn’t a charming thing to watch, but rather a frightening one. How can we feel sorry for her psychosis, when she’s raging twisted attack after twisted attack upon poor, helpless Blanche? No, Jane seems beyond help, and Blanche is but the helpless victim. It’s a frigthful depiction of childhood rivalry, turned adult rivalry, turned insanity. You can watch the trailer at the link below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAcf9QqXprc

Marked with all of the elements of a psychological thriller with doses of the macabre, I was actually on the edge of my couch rooting for Blanche to break free of her sister’s lunacy. I was shocked, appalled, and yes, rather disturbed by the pathetic place where these two sisters found themselves. I was hoping for Jane to trip up, perhaps even up the stairs while carrying one of those grotesque meals she brought Blanche. Of course, that’s not the formula of horror films, and sadly this one was no different. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford shine as eccentric, loony, bitter, creepy, and altogether cooky fallen stars. I couldn’t help but think of Grey Gardens gone bad. Thank goodness little Edie wasn’t that kind of crazy.

Bette Davis’ remarkable performance as Baby Jane reminds us once more of how completely devoted she was to every role she encountered. Practiced in playing the strong-willed beauty, how different it must’ve been for her to play the psychotic old lady, hell-bent on torturing her paralyzed sister. It’s remarkable the way in which Davis flits back and forth between the evil and innocence brought on by whatever personality disorder Baby Jane was experiencing. That moment when we first see her in the oversized Baby Jane costume that matches that of her Baby Jane doll perfectly, is perhaps the most terrifying and telling of all. Can you imagine some of our most recognizable recent child stars jumping into grown-up sized versions of their character’s best-known outfits at age 50? Somehow I picture a grown Urkel running about saying, “Did I do that?” It’s deranged. It’s probably not an uncommon effect of child stardom, though. What make the film most horrific, however, is that for some reason Bette Davis’ Baby Jane character takes out all of her twisted regrets on her sister, who’s trapped in an upstairs room with no hope of getting out. This is the part that puts What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, right on par with any other creepy kidnapper, torture, or serial killer film of today. It takes light, fun places like the beach, and turns them into terrifying reminisces about a childhood long-gone and two sisters on the edge of destroying one another. It makes the viewer go, “Oh God! What can she possibly do to that poor woman now! Make it stop!” It certainly made me do that.

Blanche, you aren’t ever gonna sell this house…and you aren’t ever gonna leave it…either.” – Jane

Reaction and Recognition
According to Tim Dirks on the AMC Filmsite, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is, “A great psychological thriller, black comedy, and over-the-top camp classic… It features the bizarre (and sole) pairing of two legendary — and rival — screen legends in a gothic, macabre.” He goes on to describe the original theatrical posters for the film as having the following five points or things you should know before buying a ticket:

1. If you’re long-standing fans of Miss Davis and Miss Crawford, we warn you this is quite unlike anything they’ve ever done.
2.
You are urged to see it from the beginning.
3.
Be prepared for the macabre and the terrifying.
4.
We ask your pledge to keep the shocking climax a secret.
5.
When the tension begins to build, remember it’s just a movie.

Here, we get a sense of just how terrifying it must’ve been to see this film in 1962 when it was released, particularly, if you were already a fan of Bette Davis or Joan Crawford. I know it bothered me seeing Davis in such a strange, new light. It was, perhaps, this strange, new light, however, that earned Davis an Oscar nomination for her role as Baby Jane, which she lost to Anne Bancroft for The Miracle Worker. Sadly, had Bette won this award she would’ve made Academy Award history as the first actress to receive three best actress Oscars. According to IMDb, “It was the general feeling among Academy voters that while Davis was superb, the movie itself was little better than a potboiler exploitation film, the kind that doesn’t deserve the recognition that an Oscar would give it.” The film, however, earned four other nominations. Newcomer Victor Buono was nominated in the supporting actor category for his role as Edwin, and the film was nominated for it’s cinematography, costume design, and sound. The only category it won was costume design. A fair win, because as previously stated, some of Bette Davis’ childlike costumes were terrifying! In the photo below you can see her as child standing next to her grown-up self. It gives me the creeps just looking at it.

The film was also listed as #63 on AFI’s list of 100 Years…100 Thrills, and Baby Jane Hudson was #44 on the list of AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains.

Bette & Joan: Rivals on and Off the Screen

“You mean all this time we could have been friends?” – Jane –

Something interesting to note about this film is the way in which the real off-screen rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford must’ve played into the perfection of their twisted sisterly rivalry on screen. I didn’t know this before watching the film, but the two supposedly hated one another. If you visit Bette Davis’ IMDb page, you’ll find quote after quote about her dislike of Joan. According to the site:

“Joan Crawford and Davis had feuded for years. During the making of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Bette had a Coca-Cola machine installed on the set due to Crawford’s affiliation with Pepsi (she was the widow of Pepsi’s CEO). Joan got her revenge by putting weights in her pockets when Davis had to drag her across the floor during certain scenes.”

In a quote from Bette about working with Joan on the film she says:

“We were polite to each other – all the social amenities, ‘Good morning, Joan’ and ‘Good Morning, Bette’ crap – and thank God we weren’t playing roles where we had to like each other. But people forget that our big scenes were alone – just the camera was on me or her. No actresses on earth are as different as we are, all the way down the line. Yet what we do works. It’s so strange, this acting business. It comes from inside. She was always so damn proper. She sent thank you notes for thank you notes. I screamed when I found out she signed autographs: ‘Bless you, Joan Crawford.’”

Why did Bette hate Joan, though? From what I read it sounds as if her dislike stemmed from Joan’s constant need to be in character. Bette claims that off-screen she was herself, while on-screen she became whatever the character required. Whereas, Joan was always playing up what Bette regarded as the character of Joan Crawford. Was this true, or not? Hard to say. Odds are that Bette and Joan hated one another (if they did hate one another) because they were just too darn similar. For instance, after Joan’s daughter wrote the deprecating book about her mother titled, Mommy Dearest, Bette’s daughter went on to write a similar book. Both daughters apparently found something in their mothers to detest. Perhaps it was also a bit of jealousy that caused the stars to feud, or at least caused rumors of the feud. While both carried equal amounts of star power, Bette was a trained actress dedicated to her roles, while Joan was the beautiful actress who played into her image as a “star.” They made films for rival studios MGM and Warner Brothers for years, then Joan jumped over to Warner Brothers where Bette was. In an interview from 1987, which you can watch at the link below, Bette claims the two women got along just fine. Whether that’s true or not is another question, but in 1987 all seemed to have been well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4Y9B9PJnW8

In another interview, Joan Crawford talks about her time working on What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She talks briefly about her feud with Bette, and gives a few more interesting insights into the making of the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1QmhRRcT64&feature=related

Who’s to blame/thank for the film’s greatness or lack there of?
This was an all-around group effort of awesomeness. Bette Davis giving an amazing performance is a no-brainer. Joan Crawford’s performance, though, is not to be ignored. If we hadn’t believed 100% in her fear, then the film would’ve been cheesier than it was terrifying. No, she deserves a fair amount of credit for her fabulous performance as well. Director Robert Aldrich was spot-on in the way in which he builds up the horror and the characters. He’s definitely a director I want to look into now. Here’s a nice behind-the-scenes gem I found about him and the making of the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY5hCBb48O8

Why I watched this film in the first place?
Believe it or not, my mom actually recommended this to me when I mentioned I was planning on watching scary movies this month. It was the first thing she thought of. I guess it scared her so much as a young teenager, that she wanted to share in the terror. Thanks Mom.

If you liked this, you might also like:
Okay, so this falls into that weird niche of horror like Psycho or The Orphanage (which isn’t an old movie, but one that I’d highly recommend) where it’s the freaky images that stick with you more than anything else. It holds up its end of suspense as well just like Rear Window or the original House of Wax. If you liked Bette Davis in this and aren’t familiar with her, please find a copy of All About Eve to watch right now, then watch anything else by her and enjoy. If you like the idea of fallen celebrities, then Hollywood has no shortage of great films about that. Amongst those I’ve seen Sunset Boulevard and Grey Gardens are the best. All About Eve dances around that same topic as well.

Final verdict – in claps
You may clap as Baby Jane dances around in circles at the beach, perhaps for the last time. She’ll think you’re clapping for her, when in reality you’re clapping at the sheer genius behind making this film seem so darn creepy and real.

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