Tag Archives: dueling divas

The Dueling Divas Entries

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The Dueling Divas are underway, readers! I will be updating this post throughout the day as the entries come in, so be sure to check back!

Here are the entries thus far:

Over at Movie Star Makeover, Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth claw it out over Pal Joey.

Silver Screenings gives us a rundown of two military divas, Gregory Peck and David Niven in The Guns of Navarone.

Barry Bradford shows us two ladies battling it out in the wrestling arena with a rundown of All the Marbles.

Meanwhile, at Sister Celluloid, Carole Lombard and Kay Francis compete for the same man in In Name Only (but they’re really friends in real life!)

Cary Grant Won’t Eat You spoons up some drama between Ginger Rogers and Gail Patrick in Stage Door.

Silents, Please! recaps Asta Nielsen’s dual role in Die falsche Asta Nielsen.

Over at Wolffian Classic Movies Digest, Hayley Mills plays twins in…you guessed it…The Parent Trap!

I’m thrilled that Theresa, at the fantastic new blog CineMaven’s: Essays From the Couchis participating this year with a treatise on the divas in Libeled Lady versus those in its remake, Easy to Wed.

Marsha at A Person in the Dark tries to keep it civil between Jean Brodie and Sandy from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Critica Retro offers up a piece on Olivia de Havilland’s twins suspected of murder in The Dark Mirror. If you don’t speak Portuguese, be sure to make use of Le’s handy translate button on the right side of the page!

At Girls Do Film, we are treated to a fascinating look at the legendary relationship between two of the biggest divas of them all, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.

I See a Dark Theater takes on diva Rags Ragland and his dual role in Whistling in Dixie.

Meanwhile, at Vitaphone Dreamer, Lina Lamont and Kathy Selden take center stage as they duel over Don Lockwood in Singin’ In the Rain. So fabulous we “cahn’t steeeeand it!”

We travel to France for some Napoleonic dueling in Silver Screen Modes post about The Duellists.

Movies, Silently discusses Constance Talmadge and a wacky storyline involving identical twins in her piece on Her Sister From Paris.

Classic Reel Girl gets creative and tells us why Bob Hope and Bing Crosby really are dueling divas (no doubt on my end)!

The Wonderful World of Cinema delves into the rivalry between Bonnie Parker and Blanche Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde.

It’s a battle of the Barbras over at Moon in Gemini where we’re treated to a piece on Barbra Streisand’s dual roles (with a twist) in a On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

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Don’t Forget–The Dueling Divas Blogathon is this Saturday!

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Hear ye, hear ye, this serves as your reminder that the Dueling Divas Blogathon is happening this Saturday! Get ready for a fun day of rivalry and revelry, when Backlots’ readers get together to contribute posts about their favorite dueling divas. In case you’re new around these parts, here are the guidelines for this blogathon, now in its 4th year:

Your topic may be related to any of the following:

  • Classic film personalities who had a rivalry in real life, either over a particular film role or over a personality clash, ie Bette Davis and Joan Crawford
  • Classic film characters 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.

You don’t need to feel limited to a single duel between two personalities or characters. You can talk about various clashes a single actor had (ahem…Bette Davis) or duels within a group. In the past, I have written about the duels in The Women, which was a lot of fun.

Also, Backlots is a progressive and gender-eschewing blog, so your divas may be women or men, as you wish.

If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time! Email me or comment on this post, and I will know to expect your entry on Saturday.

I am very much looking forward to our 4th year of Dueling Divas, and know that this year is going to be a great one!

See you on Saturday!

 

 

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.

The Dueling Divas of “The Women” (1939)

Some of the most entertaining duels ever depicted onscreen are concentrated in one single film. The Women (1939), directed by George Cukor and starring Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Joan Fontaine, and Paulette Goddard, is one of the most well-loved comedies of all time, and much of the acclaim it has received is due to the unique relationships the characters have with each other, and the complex web of competition that occurs among nearly every character with nearly every other.

The Women presents an unprecedented experiment with regard to casting a film, and in regard to the relationships between the characters. Based on the Broadway hit by Clare Boothe Luce, the tagline reads “The Women: It’s all about the men!” Indeed, the women in the film talk so much about their husbands, it may take a while for the viewer to recognize that something is missing. The husbands, when they are heard from, are always either spoken to over the phone or send their communication through letters. True to the Broadway show, the MGM casting department went to great lengths to ensure that every member of the cast was female. From the extras to the photographs to even the animals, there is not one male in the cast of 130 that makes up The Women.

Though a completely feminine picture, and very progressive in its treatment of divorce and extramarital affairs, The Women is still very much a movie made under the code. All divorces are eventually dissolved, and the “wayward” women are punished. Nonetheless, the code strangely holds this film together, leading to a tight finish and no problem unresolved. When the movie was remade in 2008, the filmmakers made an effort to make it more politically correct, liberated, and feminist, which ruined the story and led the film to be universally panned by critics. There is truly nothing like this original version of The Women, a hilarious story of friendship, competition, and gossip among society women.

There is a tightly woven network of duels in this movie, and the plot comes together through exploration of who is dueling with whom! I will list all the main characters here, and then delve into the duels.

  • Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) wife of Stephen Haines
  • Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russell), wife of Howard Fowler, cousin of Mary Haines
  • Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford), perfume counter saleswoman, mistress of Stephen Haines and Buck Winston
  • Edith Potter, wife of Phelps Potter
  • Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard), mistress of Howard Fowler
  • Peggy Day (Joan Fontaine), wife of John Day
  • The Countess de Lave (Mary Boland), married multiple times, currently involved with Buck Winston
  • Little Mary (Virginia Weidler), Mary and Stephen’s daughter

MARY HAINES vs. CRYSTAL ALLEN

While having her nails done, Mary’s cousin Sylvia Fowler learns of the infidelity of Mary’s husband. The mistress is a perfume counter saleswoman named Crystal Allen, and Sylvia immediately takes action by telling Mary to get her nails done with the same woman, so she can hear the story for herself. Mary does that, and upon learning the story, she decides to largely ignore it. Sylvia, however, will do nothing of the kind. Due to her meddling, Mary and Crystal square off when they meet at the fashion show in the middle of the film. Pay special attention to the racy and clever dialogue.

It finally becomes clear that Mary is going to need to get a divorce from Stephen, as Crystal will not give him up.

PEGGY DAY vs. SYLVIA FOWLER

The sweet and shy Peggy Day finally gets fed up with Sylvia’s meddling in Mary Haines’ business, and after a scene at the gym with Edith and Sylvia in which the women gossip about the situation, Peggy complains to Edith that Sylvia is a “dreadful woman” and vows to tell her so. Edith convinces her not to, because it’s just Sylvia’s bad luck that Sylvia ” wasn’t born deaf and dumb.” The clash between Peggy and Sylvia continues through the rest of the movie, though Peggy’s shy demeanor prevents her from making it into an issue.

Peggy’s personality is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, she is very shy and unassuming, but on the other hand, she resents her husband for not letting her spend her own money. Eventually this becomes too much, and she ends up in Reno with Mary.

MIRIAM AARONS vs. SYLVIA FOWLER

On the train to Reno for her divorce, Mary Haines meets two women going to Reno for the same reason. One of them is the Countess de Lave, an exuberant multiple-time divorcee who nonetheless claims to believe in love by proclaiming “L’amour!” after nearly every sentence. She is intent on marrying Buck Winston, a singing cowboy and radio star with a popular show. The other woman is Miriam Aarons, a former chorus girl going to Reno for her first divorce.

Meanwhile, Sylvia finally gets a taste of her own medicine when she finds out about her own husband’s infidelity. She surprises Mary and Peggy with her own arrival to Reno. Shortly before Sylvia’s arrival, Miriam shared a secret with the Countess–she has been having an affair with Howard Fowler. Miriam does not know Sylvia, and it is a major surprise when Sylvia arrives and they are introduced.

Sylvia gets an article in the mail that shows with whom Howard has been having an affair, recognizes the name of Miriam Aarons. An all-out catfight ensues.

LITTLE MARY vs. CRYSTAL ALLEN

While in Reno, Mary finds out that Stephen has married Crystal. Little Mary, Mary’s daughter, does not like Crystal, but is civil to her because Mary has told her to be kind to Crystal. Crystal clearly is not the mothering type, and barely tolerates Little Mary. There is a confrontation between them where Crystal is on the phone in the bathtub with a mysterious man, and Little Mary becomes suspicious and eventually tells her mother.

SYLVIA FOWLER vs. CRYSTAL ALLEN

Sylvia and Crystal, who have become chummy, meet minutes after Crystal’s confrontation with Little Mary in the bathtub. Sylvia answers the phone when it rings, and it turns out to be the cowboy radio star Buck Winston. Crystal has been having an affair with the fiancé of the Countess de Lave.

By now, Little Mary has told her mother about the mysterious man, and with this newly found information about Crystal’s affair, Mary decides to take the initiative in getting Stephen back. She dresses for a party occurring that evening that Stephen and all the rest of the ladies are attending, and begins her recapture of her husband.

At the party, Mary tricks Sylvia into spilling the beans that Crystal is having an affair with Buck Winston, and thereby sets the ball rolling toward the end.

THE COUNTESS DE LAVE vs. CRYSTAL ALLEN

Also at the party, Buck Winston publicly declares his love for Crystal Allen. The Countess is humiliated, and Crystal goes for the jugular, implying that she is only after his money. The Countess reveals that all his money is gone, and that SHE is the sponsor of his popular radio show. Crystal is defeated, and her final line of the movie is:

“Well girls, I guess it’s back to the perfume counter for me. And by the way, there’s a name for you ladies, but it isn’t used in high society…outside of a kennel. So long, ladies!”

The movie ends with Mary running back to Stephen with arms outstretched.

Director George Cukor is magnificent in channeling all these feuds into fun and creative scenes. Though there is some serious dueling in the film, the sharpness of the script and slapstick humor keeps the audience entertained and keeps the film from getting too mean.

The Women remains one of the best films of that marvelous year of 1939, and one of the best comedies of all time, thanks to the brilliant performances by the actresses involved and the unparalleled directing of George Cukor.

Today is the final day of the Dueling Divas Blogathon! Be sure to check out all the entries here. Thanks for reading and a special thanks to those who contributed their hard work to this year’s blogathon. I can’t wait for next year!

Dueling Divas 2012

Announcing the 2012 Dueling Divas Blogathon!

It’s happening again! That’s right readers, it’s time for those sassy sparring ladies (or gentlemen, we’re all for gender equality here at Backlots) to get out their foils and do some serious dueling! The Dueling Divas Blogathon is back for its second year, and this time there is a twist.

The rules remain the same as last year. As a refresher, participants may blog about any of the following types of Dueling Divas:

  • 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.

You can write about the divas themselves, compare their films, or if you are planning on covering an actor or actress in a dual role, you can compare and contrast the differences in the characters to give one example. There is really a very wide range of possibilities for this blogathon, and for those of you who haven’t participated yet it’s lots of fun!

Olivia de Havilland plays twins in “The Dark Mirror” (1946)

The Dueling Divas blogathon will be held between December 20 and 23, and you can submit any number of posts over those three days. To RSVP for the blogathon, simply comment on this post and I will add your name to the list of scheduled participants. You don’t have to tell me what you will submit and when just yet, but if you already have something in mind I would love to hear it! And don’t worry if you see someone writing about the same divas as you, as we all know there are some pairs who are massively popular and I don’t want to limit anyone’s creativity here!

Here are this year’s participants thus far:

Now for the twist.

Each blogger who submits a post will have his or her name put into a raffle. At the end of the blogathon on December 23, I will pick out a name from the raffle and the winner will have the choice between two prizes:

     A) A DVD of the classic horror film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? starring two of our favorite dueling divas, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

     B) A copy of the TCM book Leading Ladies, that profiles the biographies of seemingly endless classic film stars including some real dueling divas!

The winner will receive his or her prize within a week of the blogathon’s conclusion. This is Backlots’ first competition/raffle, and I am very happy to be able to do it!

So start thinking about which divas you would like to profile, and be sure to RSVP in the comments section of this post so I can add your name to the list of participants. To add the blogathon to the events section of your site, you can use the banner at the top of this post and let your own readers know it is happening. I do want to keep it traditionally classic (before the year 1968), but if someone really wants to profile a classic clash from a more modern film, I don’t want to discourage it. As I’ve said before, the definition of “classic film” is very wide and there are no set rules about what is or what isn’t considered classic, so if you would like to profile divas from a post-1968 movie that you consider to be a classic, go for it.

Thanks for reading, and I can’t wait to see everyone’s posts in just about 6 weeks!