Tag Archives: Bette Davis

Announcing Backlots’ Third Annual DUELING DIVAS BLOGATHON!

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It’s back, readers!

Take a seat and get ready to see some sparring, ladies and gentlemen, because on December 22 for the third year in a row, Backlots will be hosting the Dueling Divas Blogathon! This blogathon has proven to be lots of fun in the past, and always elicits very interesting entries. I look forward to what’s to come this year!

On December 22, write about your favorite dueling divas. Your piece can be on one of those legendary offscreen duels (ex. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) or an onscreen one (ex. Eve Harrington and Margo Channing). You can even write about an actress (or actor, we’re gender-neutral here at Backlots!) who played a dual role in a classic film if you would like–such as Olivia de Havilland in The Dark Mirror or Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap. We don’t often get many entries of this type, but it’s there if you want it!

Olivia de Havilland in THE DARK MIRROR.

You don’t have to just focus on two people. You can talk about the various duels a single actor had (good heavens, Bette Davis’ duels alone could fill a book!) or duels within a group. Last year I wrote about the divas in The Women, which was a lot of fun.

So to sum up, here are the guidelines on who to write about:

  • Those who had a rivalry in real life, either over a particular film role or over a personality clash, ie Bette Davis and Joan Crawford
  • Those who had a rivalry on the screen, ie Mildred and Veda from Mildred Pierce
  • Any dual role played by an actor or actress in a classic film, ie Hayley Mills in The Parent Trap.

Please do try to stay on track with the theme! Since this is an open-ended blogathon with a lot of choices, it’s easy to get carried away. But if you just refer to the guidelines above, you’ll be good to go.

Comment on this post with your diva choices and I will add you to the list. So far we have:

MOVIES, SILENTLY: Mary Pickford’s dual role in Stella Maris

SILVER SCREENINGS: Edward G. Robinson’s dual role in The Whole Town’s Talking

CHRISTY PUTNAM: June Allyson vs. Joan Collins in The Opposite Sex

LOVE IS A FIRE: Bette Davis vs. Joan Crawford

OUTSPOKEN AND FRECKLED: Josephine vs. Daphne in Some Like It Hot

STARDUSTJoan Crawford vs. Norma Shearer in The Women

ONCE UPON A SCREEN: Greta Garbo vs. Marlene Dietrich

MOVIE STAR MAKEOVER: Rita Hayworth vs. Kim Novak in Pal Joey

CRITICA RETRO: Rita Hayworth vs. Linda Darnell in Blood and Sand

SEPIA STORIESOlive Thomas vs. Mary and Charlotte Pickford

THE HOLLYWOOD REVUE: TBA

GIRLS DO FILM: Olivia de Havilland in The Dark Mirror

Liz Smith: Two Bette Davis duels

While you ponder over who to write about, feel free to take this banner and add it to your site to let everybody know you will be participating.

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I can’t wait to read all your posts! This is going to be fun.

Backlots to Cover Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour

As I write to you, dear readers, I am on Highway 5 heading from my home in Oakland down to Los Angeles. The purpose of my visit, this time, is to blog for the Warner Bros. 90th Anniversary VIP tour which is happening tomorrow. I was invited along with several other classic film bloggers to be among 10 featured writers on the tour.

A brief history of the company: Warner Bros. was founded by four brothers, Albert, Sam, Harry and Jack Warner who had been collecting and distributing films for many years, in 1923. It remained a fledgling studio until Warner Bros. had the foresight to see that the future of movies was based in sound. In 1927, the studio released The Jazz Singer and Warner Bros. became a household name.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Warner Bros. had under contract some of the most gifted and eminent stars in the business. Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Errol Flynn, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, and directors such as Michael Curtiz, Busby Berkeley, Mervyn LeRoy and William Wellman all called Warner Bros. home at seminal points in their careers. Such diverse films as The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, A Star is Born, My Fair Lady, Cool Hand Luke, and The Exorcist were all shot at Warner Bros., securing the studio a reputation for staggering versatility.

Today, Warner Bros. is known and appreciated by classic film fans for the incredibly vast library of films available in the Warner Archive. Previously unreleased or rare films get a new audience with the Warner Archive Collection, and it has proven to be a very valuable resource to those researching classic film. It recently procured a license to release Paramount pictures under the Warner name, so the releases from the Warner Archive will continue to grow exponentially as time goes on.

The Warner Archive release of Thirteen Women.

In recent times, many high profile television shows have been shot at the studio, and on the tour I expect to see the sets of modern television shows like ER and Friends, both shot at Warner Bros. in the 1990s. I will be taking pictures and live-tweeting, and at the end of the day I will make a blog post here about my experience and some information about the Warner Bros. tours themselves, should you want to go on one.

See you soon!

What Happened at the 23rd Academy Awards?

As the Academy Awards are broadcast from Hollywood, Gloria Swanson anxiously awaits the announcement of Best Actress.

By Lara Gabrielle Fowler

On a whim yesterday, I removed my trusty VHS of Sunset Boulevard from its spot in my movie library (organized alphabetically, by year) and put it in for an  impromptu viewing. Sunset Boulevard is one of those movies with everything–flawless plot, perfect script, skillful directing, and tour-de-force acting by Gloria Swanson, whose portrayal of fictional fallen screen star Norma Desmond, whose life has unraveled to the point of insanity, is one for the ages. As a friend of mine puts it, “Gloria Swanson tore her heart out and bled that role.”

Rightly, she was remembered in the Best Actress Oscar nominations for 1950, along with Bette Davis (All About Eve), Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday), Anne Baxter (All About Eve), and Eleanor Parker (Caged).

All About Eve is similar to Sunset Boulevard in many ways. Both were directed by writer-directors (Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s script for All About Eve is a phenomenal triumph, and Billy Wilder’s script with Charles Brackett for Sunset Boulevard is famous for being the pair’s last collaboration) and both deal brutally with the issues of stardom as one ages. The main characters are stubborn and vulnerable larger-than-life personalities. We are led to realize the unfairness in life that has been dealt to them–where Norma Desmond’s fragile mental state leads those close to her (namely her strangely devoted butler Max) to treat her with kid gloves, no one takes Margo’s guff and it is assumed that she can take care of herself–when in reality she is in desperate need of protection.

Hollywood loved its own. It was going to be either Bette Davis or Gloria Swanson, no one else had much of a chance.

But when the announcement was read, there was an upset.

So what happened?

I think the nomination of two actresses portraying similarly themed characters, both giving the performance of their respective careers, was too much for that year. The votes were split down the for Davis and Swanson, relegating each of them to the minority allowing Judy Holliday to win with the “outlier” votes. Essentially, 1950 was so good, it backfired.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Judy Holliday was brilliant in Born Yesterday. It remains one of my favorite movies of 1950, and Judy Holliday was what made it. Check out this wonderful scene of her playing cards, and the subtle expressions and physical movements that drive the scene. I apologize for the poor quality, but it’s very much worth watching.

Had this been any other year, I would have applauded Holliday’s win, but it was an inappropriate result for a category that included Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and Bette Davis in All About Eve.

I would like to pose the question to you, readers–what are your opinions on the 23rd Academy Awards? Who do you think should have won? What do you think happened? Leave a comment in the comments section and let’s discuss it!

I look forward to reading your comments!