Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, two great actresses, a lot of talent and hostility for life. But why did they hate each other so much if, in the end, they were not so different? Both had a bad relationship with their daughters, their romantic relationships failed and both sank in alcohol. This is undoubtedly the most commented Hollywood hostility in history; hostility which, in spite of all the tumult, we saved a jewel of cinema: What happened to Baby Jane?
The fact is that the life of these actresses already looks like a movie. It is not surprising therefore thatBaby Jane has been a success and that even today it is still considered a classic.This film is now back on the agenda since it was rediscovered by young people through the seriesFEUD: Bette and Joan, which recreates the hostility of the two actresses and the problems they had during filming.
It is true that young people today feel a certain rejection vis-à-vis black and white films, it seems that a film so old makes us allergic and that the effort that supposes the visualization in black and white is too important for us. However, part ofthe magic of these films lies precisely in the absence of color.
Hatred and terror
When we thinkto horror movies today, images of demonic possessions, special effects, haunted houses and gore scenes come to mind. All this started in the 70's, coinciding with the release of movies such asTheExorcist, which will forever change horror movies.
Until that date,great master of terror had been Alfred Hitchcock ; most of the films were shot in black and white and we were used to another type of terror, more subtle, more psychological, where almost all the weight rested on the actors' interpretation, on the music and on the suggestion, without almost nothing to show.
"Bette Davis stole my best scenes, but the funny thing is, when I look at Baby Jane, I realize again that she stole them from me because it looks like a parody of herself and me to a star. "
All of this has changed today, and many people will have difficulty seeingBaby Jane horror movie. It is nevertheless how it was worded at the time. Indeed, manyspecial effectsThere is no need for Bette Davis to frighten us by her look, so that we felt anguish when Blanche (Joan Crawford), prostrate in a wheelchair, desperately trying to get her neighbor's attention or to pick up the phone to ask for help.
Can there be something more terrible than hatred?If someone hates us, he will be able to do everything and even more if he loses his reason, as in the movie Baby Jane. The fear and anguish of the film are based on this hatred, on resentment and on eternal rivalry.When we hate we can fall into irrationality, we do not care about the damage we can cause and we rarely think about the consequences.
Baby Jane, two sisters and two actresses
Baby Jane tells the story of two sisters who had their glory years and who fell into oblivion.One, Blanche, lives in a wheelchair and depends on her younger sister. Jane (Bette Davis), the name of the younger sister, has long since lost her sanity because of the guilt she feels for leaving her sister paralyzed and living through her years of glory, feeling that she can once again to become a little girl and to sing and dance with her father while the public admires her.
The hatred between the two, the resentment and the ego will be the main protagonists of the film; almost like in life real. Baby Jane begins with a little Jane artist, egocentric and spoiled by her father who treats his entourage badly, including his family; on the other hand, is his older sister, Blanche, who observes her with her mother, speaks little and feels discriminated against.We see that this special treatment towards Jane will make Blanche is a strong woman capable of eclipsing her sister, to such an extent that she will eventually become a big movie star.
"You should not talk bad about those who are dead, only good." Joan Crawford is dead.
Jane, on the other hand, will fall into oblivion for almost all mortals. The truth is that she lacks talent and will begin to hate her sister for stealing the show.Blanche and Jane are two eternal rivals, although Blanche apparently shows compassion for her sistereven if we discover little by little that it has not always been so.The film offers us very disturbing scenes such as the meals that Jane prepares for her sister or the song I'm writing a letter to daddy.
This rivalry, this hate crosses the screen and perhaps because the story of Blanche and Jane is not so different from that of Bette and Joan. Hatred, transformed into art, becomes something worthy of admiration when we watch the film; a hatred that was totally real. There was a lot of discussion about what happened on the set ofBaby Jane, the Coca Cola machine installed for Davis to compete with Crawford's Pepsi machine; Davis's real blow to Crawford during a scene, or the moment when Crawford decided to add weight to his outfit for a scene in which Davis had to drag her.
The rivalry was such that Crawford managed to win the Oscarof the best actressfor her role as Anne Bancroft.Award for which Davis was nominated forBaby Jane, thus stealing the limelight at Davis.
FEUD: Bette and Joan, the rescue
This rivalry was recently hot on the screen in the seriesFEUD: Bette and Joan, performed by veterans Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange respectively. The series, directed by Ryan Murphy, takes us on the set of the film and shows us the other side of the coin, that of the media and the Hollywood industry of the time. An industry in which women took second place and had few opportunities, even less when their youth and beauty had disappeared.
We see in the series that, perhaps, this hostility was largely fed by the press, which seemed more interested in insults. that actresses exchanged themselves only by their performance. Perhaps if things had been different they would not have fallen into such hostility. The truth is thatHollywood was interested in this hostility, it was the ideal propaganda to sell a film that did not have a budget too high and whose director was not very appreciated by the studios, Bob Aldrich.
SeriesFEUD managed to save some of the most interesting moments of these two stars, thus allowingBaby Jane a return to the spotlight. Besides, besides saving stars Davis and Crawford, the series counts a CAexceptional sting, starring Sarandon and Lange who, like the actresses they play the role, are fully mature, which is not an obstacle to show that they retain their talent intact.
Baby Jane had to save two women who no longer aroused interest among the youngest: they were already a certain age and their career stagnated. That is whyBaby Janewas a risky proposition and to ensure its success, it had to be sold with something else;in this case, fuel and highlight the hostility of his two stars.
Hatred, like love, can turn us into irrational beings.Both can change our perceptions so that they end up adjusting more to what we want to see than to what actually exists. In this sense,in Hollywood, regardless of happiness or morality, the important thing is, as in almost all large companies, to sell the product.
"When we hate someone, we hate in their image something that is in us."-Hermann Hesse-