My Favourite Re-Read Of 2014

 

Eight of the books I’d read last year were re-reads. These are all special books to me but top of the pile was……………betteandjoan

Bette And Joan :The Divine Feud- Shaun Considine (1989) – Last read August 2014

I haven’t read this book in a long time, probably not long after its publication date, but it has stayed in my memory since then and it was time to get it back off the shelves. For me, it is probably the best book about movie stars. Rather than a standard biography Considine takes the widely-held notion that these two divas hated each other before, during and after their much anticipated pairing in 1963’s excellent “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane” and tracks the two screen goddesses careers and the points they frequently touched and the vitriol such moments engendered. Joan Crawford, portrayed here as a man-eater with dubious mothering skills who lived her life every inch a star and Bette Davis, who considered herself a great actress before a movie star, who rarely forgave a grudge, who bullied those around her (and who may have had some hand in the death of a husband). The teaming of the two, past their prime, in the early 60s could only have been a match made in heaven or hell. It’s a wonder the film got made at all (intended follow-up pairing “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” floundered until Olivia De Haviand took over from a Crawford worn out by Davis’ spite). There’s so many great anecdotes here, the women were peerless in put-downs and sniping one –liners. For me, its monster Crawford who gets my sympathy more often against monster Davis. With so much proof and evidence Considine doesn’t need to go too far down the sensationalist route, leaving that for the respective daughters (Christina Crawford’s “Mommie Dearest” is surprisingly underplayed here, even on matters of Joan’s career. Crawford Jnr states that when she was ill and working on a daytime soap her mother muscled in and took over her part. Considine makes no mention of this.) My interest in these two ladies has been thoroughly rekindled so I’ll have to read more about them – there’s plenty out there. But for now, this is one of the most entertaining slabs of entertainment non-fiction ever.

 

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2 thoughts on “My Favourite Re-Read Of 2014

  1. How did I miss this before? I loved ‘Whatever happened to baby Jane’ ( except the rat on a serving dish). One of the classics.
    Having seen TV interviews with Bette Davis I can believe she was a diva. She did appear in some good movies and some fairly mediocre too. Can’t remember the name of it, but she played Elizabeth 1, not sure but I think it was Errol Flynn as well. Thought she was brilliant. A long time since I’ve seen any if her films, maybe you can get them on Amazon, will have to pop across and have a look.

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    • It took you a while to find this one!! The combination of Davis and Crawford was so explosive. Whoever decided to put them together for “Baby Jane” really was asking for trouble…I must admit I always shut my eyes for the rat on the plate bit. I bought a set of unopened Bette Davis DVDs not too long ago from a local charity shop (I still haven’t opened them they are on the shelf looking at me together with a considerable number of unwatched DVDs. I bought it because the set has “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” on it which was along the lines of “Baby Jane” and was supposed to reunite the two divas, only the shenanigans in filming got too much even for Joan Crawford and she pulled out with Olivia De Haviland going into the firing line. This book for me is one of the great tales of professional rivalries – I love it!

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