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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